Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the most breathtaking sight inside Yellowstone Park. Twenty miles long, the canyon is up to 4,000-feet wide and 1,200-feet deep in places. From several vantage points, you can view Lower Falls plunging steeply into the canyon 308 feet, or the Upper Falls tumbling 109 feet.

Overlook of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Photo by Gloria Wadzinski

What Created the Canyon’s Pink and Yellow Colors?

Mineral stains mark the locations of hot springs and steam vents in the canyon walls. For thousands of years, upwardly percolating fluids have altered the chemistry of the rocks, turning them yellow, red, white, and pink.

When the old geyser basin was active, the “cooking” of the rock caused chemical alterations in the canyon’s iron compounds. The rocks are essentially rusting. The colors indicate the presence or absence of water in the individual iron compounds. Most of the yellows in the canyon are the result of iron present in the rock rather than sulfur, as many people think.

The 19th century painter Thomas Moran said, “its beautiful tints were beyond the reach of human art.”

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Read More About the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Upper Falls in Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

3 Waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Thanks to the Yellowstone River, tourists to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone have three spectacular sights in the Lower, Upper and Crystal Falls. Read More...

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History of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Charles Cook explored the area in 1869, and is credited with discovering the canyon. The canyon, located below Lower Falls, is in a former geyser basin created by rhyolite lava flows. Read More...

Thomas Moran's "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" presented to Congress

How a Campfire Talk and a Painting Saved Yellowstone

Around a campfire in 1872 the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition first suggested establishing a national park in Yellowstone country. This painting of The Grand Canyon of the The Yellowstone was instrumental in convincing Congress that the place was worth setting aside for public land. Read More...

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Uncle Tom’s Trail Hike to Lower Falls in Yellowstone

This steep but wonderful trail takes you from the top of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon to the base of the 308-foot-high Lower Falls. It’s strenuous going down 500 feet, but less so than in 1905 when Uncle Tom lowered you by rope. Read More...

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View a Waterfall in Yellowstone

The park’s nearly 300 waterfalls may be its most underrated attraction. Read More...

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Lower Falls from Artist Point.

Yellowstone’s Artist Point Name Was a Mistake

Many people think that this was the spot where famous artist Thomas Moran painted. Yellowstone Park photographer F. Jay Haynes thought the same thing. Read More...