The people in charge of naming landmarks at Yellowstone National Park didn’t hold back when they assigned the name Point Sublime to a viewpoint on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The trail to Point Sublime offers views that can’t be seen from a car, exploring the picturesque canyon wall beyond Artist Point. It is 3 miles round trip to Point Sublime with a gradual 250 feet of elevation gain. The vista point looks northeast down the dramatic canyon carved by the Yellowstone River, and the trail along the canyon’s edge passes several splendid views that could warrant names of their own.
From the end of South Rim Drive, start hiking down the paved trail to Artist Point. This popular viewpoint delivers one of Yellowstone’s most photographed views, looking up the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone toward the 308-foot Lower Falls. Take in the view from the overlook before continuing east along the canyon wall.
When the pavement ends at Artist Point, follow a less-traveled dirt trail toward Point Sublime and Ribbon Lake. The bold trail follows the edge of the canyon, often only a few feet from a perilous fall. There are no railings along the way, and those with a fear of heights may struggle with this hike. With that caveat, the views along the way are amazing. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is over 20 miles long with steep, rugged walls that drop a thousand feet to a violent river.
About 2/3 of a mile from Artist Point, the trail arrives at a marked junction. Stay to the left to reach Point Sublime. By turning to the right, you can hike to Lily Pad Lake (a small pond in a mountain meadow) a quarter mile up the trail, or continue to Ribbon Lake, 1.5 miles away.
While hiking a mountain trail, you can reach false summits that turn out not to be the true peak of the mountain. Point Sublime Trail has several false sublimes when you think you’ve arrived at the heralded view only to discover that the trail keeps going. In fact, if you are running short of time, there is a viewpoint on the trail a third of a mile past the junction that is supremely impressive. You could turn around at Point More-than-sufficient without feeling like you missed the trail’s best views.
Looking across the daunting canyon, you may catch a glimpse of hikers on North Rim Trail, which runs along the bleached cliffs on the opposing wall of the canyon about 3/4 of a mile away. The metal staircase leading down to Inspiration Point is easy to spot.
Point Sublime Trail ends 3/4 of a mile from the junction at an overlook with a long wooden railing. Shade from lodgepole pines makes Point Sublime a relaxing place to take a shack break.
Point Sublime looks northeast down the V-shaped canyon carved by the Yellowstone River. The canyon walls are steep with rugged spires colored in brown, yellows, and even reds. From this vantage, you can observe the canyon’s rugged walls tapering out, with pines encroaching on the slopes as they become less severe.
The scenic hike on Point Sublime Trail allows you to escape the crowds while fully experiencing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. If possible, visit the south rim in the morning for the best lighting on the Grand Canyon. The trail is a thrill ride and the views are enormous. There is an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park, but no permit is required to hike Point Sublime Trail, so get out and enjoy.
To get to the trailhead: From Canyon Junction, where Norris Canyon Road and Grand Loop Road meet, drive 2.2 miles south and turn left onto South Rim Drive. Proceed another 1.6 miles to the parking area at the end of the road.
Trailhead address: South Rim Drive, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Trailhead coordinates: 44.720183, -110.479766 (44° 43′ 12.65″N 110° 28′ 47.15″W)
|Artist 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.
|Uncle 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.
|Inspiration Point on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone|
This jutting point is one of the premier vistas along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, reachable at the bottom of a flight of stairs from a parking area at the east end of North Rim Trail.
|Lookout 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.
|Brink 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.
|North 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.
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|
This 0.25-mile loop overlooks a dramatic section of the Yellowstone River lined by bleached cliffs and steam venting hydrothermal springs.
|More trails in Yellowstone|
Explore other hikes to waterfalls and hydrothermal hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.
|Yellowstone National Park Campgrounds|
There are 12 developed campgrounds with over 2,000 total sites spread throughout Yellowstone.