Hiking Project Logo

blue Tower Fall Trail

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

Trail

0.4 mile 0.6 kilometer point to point
Singletrack
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 0' 0 m
Descent: -236' -72 m
High: 6,444' 1,964 m
Low: 6,208' 1,892 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 13% (7°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

Dogs

Unknown
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Tom Carter

Enjoy a spectacular view of Tower Fall before switchbacking down to the Yellowstone River.

Tom Carter

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Family Friendly Although the trail is a bit steep for small children, it is a beautiful spot and they may enjoy the challenge. Once down to the Yellowstone River they will enjoy playing on the sandy beach.

Rockslides have indefinitely closed a small section of this trail that previously led to the base of Tower Fall.

Description

Follow the paved path over a rise to a spectacular view of 132-foot Tower Fall. The erosive powers of Tower Creek and the Yellowstone River have cut deep into the landscape. Tower Fall exists because Tower Creek could not carve as deep or as fast as the more powerful Yellowstone River. The rocks at the brink of the falls, and the vertical cliff beneath, are coarse breccias and conglomerates of the Eocene Epoch. The pinnacles that tower above the fall are capped with large boulders that prevented their erosion.

The 1870 Washburn Expedition named it "Tower" Fall for its prominent pinnacles. In Washburn's words it looked "like some old castle with its turrets dismantled but still standing." For more than 100 years, one of Tower Fall's most prominent features was a large boulder that appeared to be precariously perched on its brink. Early explorers cast bets on the hour it would fall. They would have been shocked to know it did not come tumbling down until June 1986. A sign asking "When will the boulder fall?" was still up years later, prompting sarcastic park employees to ask, "When will the sign come down?"

To the right of the overlook, the well-maintained trail switchbacks down to the Yellowstone River. The trail forks near the bottom. The left fork follows Tower Creek upstream to the base of Tower Fall. NOTE: Rockslides have indefinitely closed this section of the trail.

The right fork drops to the bank of the Yellowstone River. The steep slopes on the river's opposite side rise 700 feet to the top of Specimen Ridge. You are in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which begins 18 miles upriver and ends several miles downstream.

Native Americans, including Blackfeet, Bannock and Shoshone, inhabited the lands surrounding Yellowstone for hundreds of years before the first white explorers came. They entered the present park occasionally to hunt big game or gather obsidian for fashioning weapons. Most of the tribes viewed Yellowstone and its remarkable geothermal features as a place of spiritual power and did not fear it as some early historians asserted.

This relatively shallow section of the Yellowstone River was used by Native Americans and early explorers as a fording spot. The historic Bannock Trail crossed the river here. From 1840 to 1878 this 200-mile trail was used by Bannock, Shoshone and Nez Perce Indians to traverse Yellowstone and reach rich buffalo hunting grounds to the east. Today this section of the river is known as the Bannock Ford.

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

Contacts

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

Sep 2, 2018
Miranda Yee
Aug 8, 2018
Amber Hanlon
Aug 7, 2018
Corene Hess
0.4mi
Jul 23, 2018
Lan Zhao
Sunday 6/22/17
Jul 23, 2018
Matt Harrington
Jul 18, 2018
Stephanie Freeman
Jul 15, 2018
Teresa Garner
Jul 14, 2018
Brian Anton

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 10 votes

#7

in Tower

#5430

Overall
  4.1 from 10 votes
5 Star
30%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#7

in Tower

#126

in Wyoming

#5,430

Overall
34 Views Last Month
1,003 Since Sep 10, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

0%
29%
57%
14%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking