One More Waterfall

Lower Falls Yellowstone River

I’ve got one more Waterfall on my list of stops for this day.  Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River is known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I need to warn you, I didn’t fall in or get chased down to the bottom by a bear , or go over them in a barrel. I’ve noticed that I get far more “likes” when something scary happens to me. Unfortunately this will be disappointing for my thrill seeking readers. Its just an absolutely beautiful waterfall.

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Norris to Canyon Junction

I’m saving Norris Basin for my next Yellowstone trip so as my friends in the white Navigator turned left I continued on toward Canyon Village. There were a few more critter jams. The bison were taking their time crossing the road. At one critter jam the wait was over 20 minutes. I couldn’t see what was going on but once we started moving it was apparent. It was a huge herd of bison.  At Canyon Junction I made a right and soon spotted the parking area for the Lower Falls. A boardwalk leads out to a platform known as Lookout Point.

Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River

Red Rock Point

I really need to get over my back injury because on my next trip the trail to Red Rock Point is on my bucket list. The trail is only about a mile round trip but it’s steep! And I mean very steep! The bottom of this trail is consider the best place to experience the Lower falls and to get the best photos. Sadly,  I definitely wasn’t up to that hike this trip.

Red Rock Point

Inspiration Point and The Upper Falls

Another reason to return is that I didn’t see the upper falls at all. The road to Inspiration Point was closed and I wasn’t even aware that there was a side road called North Rim Drive. From what I’ve heard since my trip this allows for close views of the upper falls. Lower falls is the more spectacular if you base this assumption on size alone.  The Upper falls drops 109 ft. Pretty impressive by eastern standards but Lower falls drops 308 ft! Yes, I definitely want to explore this area more next trip.

Lower falls throws up spray

Madison Junction to Gibbon Falls

Madison River joins the Gibbon River

At Madison Junction the road from the West Entrance joins the loop road. The Madison River also joins with the Gibbon River at this point. I continued on the Grand Loop to follow the Gibbon River

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls

I saw the stone walls and walkways first. Photographers were set up with tripods, intent on something I couldn’t see. I was coming up on the parking area for Gibbon Falls. Gibbon Falls is not the highest or wildest waterfall in the park but it is really wide. The water flows in lacy ribbons over the gradual rock drop. From the parking lot you have a walk of about .2 miles to the southern end of the lookout. Along the way you enjoy different views of the falls and interpretive boards that describe what you are looking at. This is a very nice stop.

Gibbon Falls

You’re Looking at the rim of a Caldera

The Gibbon River flows along the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera. Gibbon Falls is where the river falls off the rim. Its mind boggling. The rim just looks like a mountain ridge but its the lip of a giant volcanic crater! 

over the caldera rim

A White Navigator

Returning to my car I met a couple who, like me had just trekked the length of the walkway. They were driving a large white Navigator and once again I wished I had an SUV instead of my little black Toyota. That would soon be a factor in my next Yellowstone adventure. Little did I know what was waiting for me just a few miles ahead as I followed my new acquaintances out of the parking lot. They turned right and so did I. They were on their way to Norris Junction. I planned to skip Norris today and start my swing back toward Jackson through the   Hayden Valley. I was hoping to start spotting some wildlife. All I can say is “Be Careful What You wish For!”

Jousting Bison

In the Cauldron Boiling and Bubbling

A Boiling, Bubbling Brew

stock photo

Apologizes to Shakespeare (and Macbeth), but boiling, bubbling cauldrons are what went through my mind at the Fountain Paint Pots Loop Trail. This area has it all, mud pots, geysers, hot springs and fumaroles.







Fountain Paint Pots Loop Trail

That’s a mouthful. Good thing the trail is shorter than the name. Its only about .5 miles to complete the whole loop. It does have a slight elevation of about 50 ft. Plus the trail is a well maintained boardwalk making the walking easy.

Celestine Pool

Celestine pool

It was pretty windy the day I was there and the wind had a real “bite” to it. As I started up the boardwalk I passed a large, quiet pool named the Celestine Pool.  Don’t be fooled by its tranquil, steaming surface. In 1981 a young man and his dog both died here. The dog jumped into the steaming waters and the young man followed to save it. Neither survived the scalding water.

I wandered along for a few more yards then decided to save the rest of the trail for a warmer day. The wind was blowing the clouds of steam away from me so I was getting the full force of the cold without the tempering of a steam cloud. Sadly I didn’t make it to the boiling mud pots this trip.


Firehole Canyon DrFirehole Canyon Drive and Waterfall

Back in the parking lot I considered my options. Time to head more north to another loop road. This one is called Firehole Canyon Dr. The road is a 2 mile one-way drive through the Firehole River’s canyon. Here I found another waterfall. This one is the 40 ft. Firehole Falls. With it’s canyon walls and rushing currents it’s not a quiet , peaceful falls. This waterfall has a roaring energy.



Firehole River falls

There is a small parking area near the falls but no sidewalks on the side of the road closest to the falls. No one seems to let that stop them, myself included, as we jockey for the best photo we can get.

Firehole Falls

A little farther on you can go swimming in the river if you dare. There is parking and a set of stairs down to the river. I bet it’s a nice spot on a hot summer day.

Firehole falls flows over the boulder

Next Stop: Lewis Falls

Lewis Falls is just a 30 Ft Cascade

Parking for Lewis Falls is mostly by the roadside. Its just a short walk up a slight incline to a rocky outcrop with a good view of the falls. Even I was up to this much. I skipped the rocky trail that takes you right to the falls. It looked a bit slippery and icy from the snow in the area. I’d skipped this stop the day before because there were so many people. This early I was the only one here. Lewis falls 30 ft cascade

Lodgepole pines frame the waterfallNamed for Meriwether Lewis

Just as the Lewis River is named for Meriwether Lewis so too is the falls unless you want to say its named for the river. Even with the frothing cascade it’s hard to believe this river is carving out a 400 ft canyon just a little way downstream! On the opposite side of the road from the falls the river spreads out to a wide calm river meandering through a peaceful meadow. I’m told this is a great place to look for moose but the meadow was empty when I was there.

Standing in a Volcano

Everyone knows that Yellowstone is a super volcano but within that giant caldera are numerous vents and smaller caldera. It’s these features that create the bubbling hot springs, geysers and mud pots. According to the Yellowstone Guide Yellowstone Treasures by Janet Chapple, Lewis Falls marks the southern boundary of the caldera. I think she means the super volcano caldera. My Gaperguide talked about the road following the rim of the caldera so I think they are the same thing. Kind of amazing to think you are in such a huge active volcano.

Take a minute to Fish

The day before I spotted an angler perched on the overlook. He was whipping his fly rod back and forth and finally the line soared out in a graceful arch. I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it. It seems that most of the rivers are restricted to fly fishing. Check with the local rangers for rules and permits before you give it a try. Snow in the forest near the falls  

Kepler Cascades and Old Faithful

Kepler CascadesLet’s Start with Kepler Cascades

 Kepler Cascades is a waterfall on the Firehole River in southwestern Yellowstone National Park . The cascades are located approximately 2.5 miles south of Old Faithful. The cascades drop approximately 150 feet over multiple drops. The longest drop is 50 feet. The cascades were named by the park superintendent in 1881 for the 12-year-old son of Wyoming’s territorial governor John Wesley Hoyt. Hoyt and his son, Kepler, were visiting Yellowstone in 1881 when  Superintendent Norris named the cascades after the younger Hoyt.

The Firehole River flows over a series of small ledges before making it’s 50 ft drop. There’s a paved parking area and a well Observation Platform at Kepler Cascadesmaintained wooden observation platform. Its a great place for viewing the falls and taking pictures. I was there in the off season so there was plenty of room. No telling what it’s like in the summer season.

Falls at Kepler Cascades

Upper Geyser Basin

Upper geyser Basin

Leaving the Kepler Cascades behind steam starts to become visible in the distance. I’m about 2.5 miles away from the upper geyser basin, home to Old Faithful Geyser. When you reach the Upper Geyser basin there’s a lot more than just Old Faithful.  The Upper Geyser Basin, approximately two square miles in area, contains the largest concentration and nearly one-quarter of all of the geysers in the world! You enter a world of steam and clouds. While I was topping off the gas tank I spotted a lone Bison wandering toward the steaming plateau. Tourists closely followed behind the bison with camera’s clicking.  I was surprised the rangers didn’t round them up and shoo them away from the animal.


I could see Old Faithful in the distance building up a head of steam. If I didn’t make it to the viewing area in the next few minutes I’d have a 90 minute wait for the next eruption.  

Old Faithful warming up

Sure enough, in just the few minutes it took me to go up the road to the Old Faithful Parking Lot, the geyser went off!

Visitor Center