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South Rim Trail

 4.2 (5)


1.8 Miles 2.8 Kilometers

205' 62 m


-197' -60 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (10°)

7,796' 2,376 m


7,684' 2,342 m


Shared By Tom Carter


Bad / Closed 82 days ago

Getting forecast...

A must-do trail with iconic views of the Upper and Lower Falls and the Yellowstone Grand Canyon!

Tom Carter

Dogs Unknown

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Family Friendly The South Rim Trail (especially from Upper Falls Overlook to Artist Point) has some of the best views of the canyon without as many dangerous drop-offs as the North Rim Trail.


The South Rim Trail begins on the south side of Chittenden Bridge. It follows the mighty Yellowstone River 1.8 miles downstream, past impressive views of both Upper Falls and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, and ends near spectacular Artist Point. (HikerS beginning their trip here should park at the Wapiti Lake Picnic Area and Trailhead 100 yards beyond the bridge on the right).

Hiking is pleasant along the first stretch of trail through lodgepole pine and, occasional, five-needled limber pine. There are intermittent views of the river as it churns away toward its violent destiny. Soon the trail opens up and provides good views of Upper Falls. About 0.6 miles from Chittenden Bridge, the Upper Falls Viewpoint is reached. Although you are likely to experience crowds here, it is still the best place to view the Upper Falls. The falls spills 109 feet over a dense rhyolite lava flow that is resistant to erosion. Immediately downstream, a much softer rhyolite, containing larger amounts of volcanic glass, was more easily eroded by the river.

As you continue along the South Rim Trail, look carefully through the trees to the opposite side of the canyon. Cascading through the lodgepoles, down the far wall, is the lovely 129-foot Crystal Falls.

About 0.9 miles from Chittenden Bridge, you reach the turnoff for Uncle Tom's Trail to the bottom of the canyon. This trail uses a series of steel stairways to descend more than 300 feet in 0.3 miles.

Although heavily traveled, the next section of the South Rim Trail, between Uncle Tom's Trail and Artist Point, is truly spectacular! Picturesque views of the canyon and Lower Falls await you each time you break out of the trees. As you continue to Artist Point, take a moment to contemplate how this magnificent canyon and falls were created. Hundreds of thousands of years before the canyon was formed, an ancient thermal basin existed. The hot waters altered and weakened the hard rhyolite lava in the area, allowing the river to cut this deep canyon. Today, Lower Falls tumbles 308 feet over a hard, thermally-unaltered rhyolite flow.

Thanks to guidebook author, Tom Carter, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about visiting Yellowstone, check out his book, Day Hiking Yellowstone.


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Your Check-Ins


Sep 4, 2017
Anthony Lou
Jul 14, 2017
Al Valvano
Jun 27, 2017
Leah Pratt
Took from Artists to Uncle Toms because Toms parking area closed off! 1mi
Jun 21, 2017
Cyril Courtessole
Jun 18, 2017
Silvestre Rincon
Jun 8, 2017
Daniel Wood
Jun 3, 2017
Chris Jones
from artist point to Uncle Tom only. rest was closed for repairs. park I hiked needed then too 1mi
Sep 10, 2016
Jane Brouwer

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Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 5 votes


  4.2 from 5 votes
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