Explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with my stop-by-stop drive guide. Get practical tips and essential information to effortlessly navigate the South Rim Drive, the North Rim Drive, and the short road to the Brink of the Upper Falls.
This article guides you on the best order for the Grand Canyon drives, gives details about each stop, and includes a map.
Key things to know
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About the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is one of the most remarkable features in Yellowstone National Park. The canyon is approximately 20 miles long and up to 4,000 feet wide, with the Yellowstone River flowing through it.
The canyon walls feature a range of colors, from yellow to pink, due to the presence of iron compounds in the rock. The canyon also features two major waterfalls, the Upper and Lower Falls, which are very popular tourist attractions.
Yellowstone visitors can explore the beauty of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone through several scenic overlooks and hikes. The scenic overlooks can be accessed easily by car using the South Rim Drive, the North Rim Drive, and the road to the Brink of the Upper Falls.
Plan to spend at least two hours at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone if you are driving to each of the viewpoints without lingering for a long time. Of course, you could easily spend more time there. If you plan on doing any hike, plan for at least half a day at the canyon minimum.
How to do the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone drives
Of course, you can do the drives in whichever order you’d like, but this is my recommended order for doing the drives.
- To reach the Brink of the Upper Falls, take the short road off the Grand Loop Road, which is south of Canyon Junction. The road to the Brink of the Upper Falls is located between the South Rim and North Rim drives.
- After returning to the Grand Loop Road, turn left for the South Rim Drive, which ends at Artist Point.
- Return to the Grand Loop Road and turn right. you’ll pass the turn-off for the Brink of the Upper Falls, which you visited before the South Rim Drive.
- Take the North Rim Drive, which is mostly a one-way loop ending at Canyon Village. There is a spur road off of North Rim Drive that leads to Inspiration Point.
See more Yellowstone travel tips.
Map: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone driving route
To save this map in Google Maps, click or tap the star next to the map name. To access it later, open the Google Maps app, tap ‘Saved,’ then select ‘Maps.’
Click the ‘extend sidebar’ icon in the upper left corner of the map to view all layers, including stops and driving directions. In the sidebar, you have the option to turn each map layer on or off. For more information about each marked overlook, click on the corresponding camera icon.
I recommend that people traveling to Yellowstone download the GuideAlong app and purchase the Yellowstone audio tour.
Short on time? Best stops at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
If you don’t want to spend 2+ hours at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and you also have no desire to hike there, I would focus on these stops.
- Artist Point (South Rim)
- Upper Falls Viewpoint (South Rim)
- Lookout Point (North Rim)
- Brink of the Upper Falls (North Rim)
More details about all of these stops and how to get to them are included below.
Brink of the Upper Falls
When doing the scenic stops along both rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone don’t neglect the Brink of the Upper Falls. This short drive takes you to a great overlook with three different viewing areas, allowing you to see the cascading, 109-foot Upper Falls.
To reach the Brink of the Upper Falls, drive south from Canyon Junction on the Grand Loop Road. Just 1.6 miles from the intersection, turn left onto a spur road leading east. This road is located between the North and South Rim Drives.
Once you arrive, you’ll find a parking lot where you can leave your car and walk a short distance to the brink of the powerful Upper Falls. Make sure to take your time and enjoy all three of the viewing areas at the Brink of the Upper Falls.
South Rim Drive
After you enjoy the Brink of the Upper Falls, head back to the Grand Loop Road. Turn left and head south to the South Rim Drive. This two-way road is about 2.5 miles south of Canyon Junction and follows along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The turnoff is marked with a sign “South Rim Drive.”
There are two scenic stops on the South Rim Drive.
- Upper Falls Viewpoint
- Artist Point
Upper Falls Viewpoint
The first stop on the South Rim Drive is at the Upper Falls Viewpoint. Take the first left into the Upper Falls parking lot. This spot provides two views of the beautiful Upper Falls. Though perhaps not quite as impressive as the Lower Falls, Upper Falls is still worth seeing.
Next, head back to South Rim Drive and onto Artist Point for an iconic view of the stunning Lower Falls.
To get to Artist Point, you’ll head back to the South Rim road and turn left. Drive for about a mile to the Artist Point parking area at the turnaround loop. Expect this viewpoint of the Lower Falls to be the busiest on your drive around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It’s one of the most photographed single views in the entire Yellowstone National Park.
I highly recommend taking the time to soak in the scenery at this location. From the upper overlook, you can see the canyon in both directions, and the lower overlook is wheelchair accessible.
North Rim Drive
Following your time at Artist Point, return to Grand Loop Road by South Rim Drive the way that you came in. Turn right on Grand Loop Road and head north, past the Brink of the Upper Falls Road to North Rim Drive. Turn right onto the one-way North Rim Drive.
Each of the four viewpoints along the North Rim Drive is wheelchair accessible.
- Brink of the Lower Falls
- Lookout Point
- Grand View
- Inspiration Point
Brink of the Lower Falls
Here there is a steep trail that will take you closer to the Lower Falls or you can see a somewhat distant view of the Lower Falls from the overlook here.
If you only have time to do one overlook on the North Rim Drive, I think it should be Lookout Point. This spot provides a great vantage point to see the Lower Falls.
Grand View Point
Grand View provides a view of the canyon that is quite nice.
This is the last stop on the North Rim Drive and mainly a view of the canyon. You can see the Lower Falls in the distance though. To get to Inspiration, you’ll turn off the one-way North Rim drive and take a spur road out to the Inspiration Point parking area.
If time is limited, you might choose to skip Inspiration Point and perhaps also Grand View Point.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone without hiking?
Yes, you can enjoy the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone without having to hike. There are many viewpoints along both the South and North rims that are a short walk from the parking area. Many are also wheelchair accessible.
How long does it take to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone?
Set aside at least 2 hours to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to drive to each of the scenic overlooks on the South Rim and the North Rim. If you want to add some hiking, plan to spend at least 3 to 4 hours.
Is there anything to do at Canyon Village?
Yes, there are a lot of things to do at Canyon Village. I recommend that you make time to stop at the Canyon Visitor Center. You can ask a ranger any questions you have about the area or the Grand Canyon hikes. There is also a general store, dining options, and gift shops.
Is there anything else to do near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone?
Yes, there are several things to do near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Of course, at Yellowstone “near” is kind of a relative term since it’s such a large park. After visiting the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, consider adding these attractions to your itinerary.
- View wildlife in Hayden Valley
- Explore Mud Volcano
- Head north over Dunraven Pass to Tower Fall
- Hike up Mount Washburn
- Explore Norris Geyser Basin