Inspiration Point viewpoint North Rim Overlook Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park

Starting with the Upper Falls of Yellowstone Falls, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River runs northeast for over 20 miles, carving a 1,000-foot deep gash in the pine-covered landscape. The north and south rims are separated by a mere 3/4 of a mile, with treacherously steep canyon walls painted in oranges, yellows and reds.

While you can only see a sliver of Yellowstone Falls from Inspiration Point, there is plenty to get inspired about. The point, which was originally named Promontory Point in 1878, juts out from the rest of the canyon wall to offer panoramic views up and down the canyon.

You can hike to Inspiration Point on North Rim Trail, or if you favor drive-right-up convenience, start from the parking area just behind the point and walk down a flight of stairs to inspiring views. It is less than a tenth of a mile round trip to Inspiration Point with fifty feet of elevation change.

Inspiration Point Yellowstone
The steps down to Inspiration Point

As you step out to the fenced-in observation area on Inspiration Point, you may feel as Nathanial Langford did when he explored Yellowstone as a member of General Washburn’s expedition in 1870, recording this experience at Inspiration Point:

The place where I obtained the best and most terrible view of the canyon was a narrow projecting point situated two to three miles below the lower fall. Standing there or rather lying there for greater safety, I thought how utterly impossible it would be to describe to another the sensations inspired by such a presence. As I took in the scene, I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread exposure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even comprehend the mighty architecture of nature.

At that time, General Washburn’s men would have enjoyed even broader views. About a century later, in 1975, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale severed off a massive section of Inspiration Point.

The former end of the point, including 100 feet of the initial viewing platform, crashed into the Yellowstone River far below. The observation area now stops behind the current tip of Inspiration Point, which geologists have determined to be unstable. Stay behind the fence and enjoy the safe, slightly diminished panorama.

Inspiration Point Yellowstone
Inspiration Point

Even from today’s vantage point, there is an expansive view of the deep rugged canyon. Earthquakes and tremors continue to reshape this area and are responsible for several landslides visible along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Look down at the whitewater far below the point or up the canyon toward a sliver of Lower Falls flanked by bare yellow walls. It’s an inspiring sight!

Inspiration Point Yellowstone
Looking up the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Inspiration Point

To get more views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, you can head west from Inspiration Point on North Rim Trail toward prime viewpoints like Grand View Point, Osprey Point, and Lookout Point. Yellowstone National Park has an entrance fee, but no permit is required to visit Inspiration Point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: From Canyon Junction, where Norris Canyon Road and Grand Loop Road meet, drive east on North Rim Drive. Go 0.9 miles and turn left on a paved two-way road to Inspiration Point. After 2/3 of a mile, the road ends at a parking area for Inspiration Point and the east end of North Rim Trail.

Trailhead address: North Rim Drive, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Trailhead coordinates: 44.72504, -110.46988 (44° 43′ 30.14″N 110° 28′ 11.56″W)

Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:

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Photos

Inspiration Point YellowstoneInspiration Point YellowstoneInspiration Point YellowstoneInspiration Point YellowstoneInspiration Point Yellowstone

These photos were taken in August of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
North Rim TrailNorth Rim Trail on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This trail follows the north wall of the canyon past several exceptional views between Inspiration Point and the Brink of the Upper Falls.
Lookout Point YellowstoneLookout Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This short spur off North Rim Trail (which you can also drive right up to) achieves an impressive view of Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Lookout Point YellowstoneLookout Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This short spur off North Rim Trail (which you can also drive right up to) achieves an impressive view of Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
The brink of the Upper Falls on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone RiverBrink of the Upper Falls on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This short trail extending from North Rim Trail reaches a daunting overlook atop the 109-foot waterfall at the start of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Uncle Tom's TrailUncle Tom’s Trail on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This 0.7-mile round trip hike descends a steel staircase clinging to the south wall of the canyon to a viewing platform with spectacular views of Lower Falls.
Artist Point Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone RiverArtist Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This viewpoint delivers one of the most photographed views in Yellowstone, a memorable perspective of the 308-foot Lower Falls.
Point SublimePoint Sublime on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This 3-mile hike explores the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, passing Artist Point toward more excellent views.
Yellowstone Tower FallTower Fall
This 1-mile hike starts with a head-on view of a 132-foot waterfall. Unfortunately, the final leg of the trail to the base of Tower Fall is closed due to damage from rock and mud slides.
Calcite Springs Overlook TrailCalcite Springs Overlook
This 0.25-mile loop overlooks a dramatic section of the Yellowstone River lined by bleached cliffs and steam venting hydrothermal springs.
West Thumb Geyser BasinMore trails in Yellowstone
Explore other hikes to waterfalls and hydrothermal hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.
Camping
Yellowstone CampgroundsYellowstone National Park Campgrounds
Twelve developed campgrounds with over 2,000 total sites are spread throughout Yellowstone.
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Tagged with · Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone · National Parks
Distance: 0.1 miles · Elevation change: 50 feet

3 Comments on Inspiration Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park

  1. Alex Stark says:

    My girlfriend and I are thinking of using this trail. Where exactly is it? We plan on staying at the Madison campground or the Bridge Ba (likely Madison). If a far distance, are we able to drive?

    -Alex

  2. […] we are treated to a couple last breathtaking sites and enjoyable family hikes. Artist Point and Inspiration Point. Both are just a short hike off of the main road, but both offer very popular and iconic views of […]

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