Firehole Canyon Drive to Falls & Swimming in Yellowstone

Firehole Falls. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

Firehole Canyon Drive is a 2-mile, one-way side road off Yellowstone’s Grand Loop south of Madison Junction. On the drive you will pass the Firehole River, Firehole Falls, and a natural swimming hole.

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Firehole Falls

Firehole Falls is a 40 foot waterfall amidst 800-foot thick lava flows forming the canyon walls. There is a small parking area available near the falls and several small pull-offs along the road.

Firehole River Swimming Area

The swimming hole in Firehole Canyon is one of two swimming areas inside Yellowstone National Park. The other area on the Boiling River has no facilities and is only open in late Fall through Winter because of water levels.

There is no parking lot at the Firehole Swimming Area, but there are several locations to park on the side of the road. You can use the changing rooms at the road to put your swimming suits on. Then access the rocky beach area by climbing down wooden stairs. The beach is roomy enough that you can sit and watch the swimmers if you don’t want to swim yourself.

Sorry – it’s not hot. The name “Firehole River” may lead you to believe that this is heated by hot springs, but the swimming area is a cool temperature similar to an unheated swimming pool. Those used to swimming in rivers and lakes will not see any difference in this water temperature.

There is no lifeguard on duty, but the beach is relatively calm and safe. Swim at your own risk. There are many small boulders and rocks in the river, making it fun to explore. To safely maneuver, some type of footwear made for water sports is recommended. Climbing on and jumping from the cliffs is illegal, unsafe and strictly prohibited.

The beach is closed during high water in the Spring, and during the winter season. Inquire at the visitor centers for dates that swimming is allowed.