5 min read

Yellowstone's Hidden Cascades: Top 15 Waterfalls to Explore

Ready to chase waterfalls? Yellowstone's liquid gems are calling you to adventure beyond the beaten path. Discover your personal splash of paradise in America's rugged heartland.

Tobi Miles
August 19, 2022

Have you been dreaming of the perfect waterfall? Then, it's time to start planning a trip to the first-ever national park, Yellowstone National Park, which opened in 1872.

You will see geological treasures such as waterfall wonders, canyons, caldera rims, hydrothermal natural springs and geysers, and diverse ecosystems. Hiking, camping, enjoying the land, and gazing at one of the countless cascades draw millions of visitors each year.

The best Yellowstone waterfalls are accessible by parking, walking a short trail, or even just rolling down your window to get a glance. However, some do require a hike into several colorful and beautiful canyons in the backcountry.

Either way, be prepared - you may see bears. Carry bear spray, be vigilant, hike in groups, and stay a safe distance from any animals. Now, let's check out the best 15 waterfalls at Yellowstone National Park to put on your to-do list.

T&T Tip: The park has several entrances: North, Northeast, East, South, and West. The South Entrance borders Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. You will be required to pay an entrance fee into each park.

Check Yellowstone National Park’s online website for the most updated information, including road and trail closures, park fees, information on camping, and more.

1. Tower Fall

Tower Fall drops 132 feet into Tower Creek and Yellowstone River. Named for the “towers” or stone formations spotted at the top of the falls, Tower Fall is a must-see natural beauty.

One of the more famously-known waterfalls at the national park, Tower Fall, is easily found by parking at Tower General Store. Follow the easy trail (about a 5-minute walk) from the parking lot to view the waterfall.

May and June are the best months to visit Tower Fall, but they are also the busiest. During winter, Tower-Roosevelt Junction is unavailable to drive through, which gives cross-country skiers a wonderful excursion to the waterfall.

Address: 1 Dunraven Pass Rd., Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: Yellowstone National Park entrance fee is $35 per vehicle or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

2. Kepler Cascades

Kepler Cascades falls 150 feet into Firehole River. This waterfall is located between canyon walls and features three different tiers. The white water flowing down is so powerful visitors can hear it roar before arriving.

Folks from Wyoming say you haven’t visited their state until you’ve seen Kepler Cascades. Nearby, Old Faithful Geyser, Kepler Cascades, is an easy visit. There is a parking area 2.5 miles from the Old Faithful Lodge. Follow the Kepler Cascades sign.

Once parked, take the wooden bridge pathway to the waterfall overlook. Some travelers stay in their cars or park along the highway to catch a quick view.

In winter, the roads are unavailable to access the lookout. However, it’s a popular route for cross-country skiers. The Lone Star Geyer Trailhead is also right there if hikers (and skiers) want more of an adventure.

Address: US-287, Yellowstone National Park, Park County, WY 82190

Fee: Grand Teton National Park is $35 per vehicle, Yellowstone National Park is $35 per car, or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park

3. Lower Falls

Yellowstone National Park’s granddaddy of waterfalls is Yellowstone River Falls. Made of two levels: upper and lower, this one is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the most powerful.

The Lower Falls takes a massive 308-feet plunge into the Yellowstone River, which created the geography and landscape of Yellowstone Grand Canyon (1,000 feet deep). Visitors are in awe when they look around to see some canyon walls towering as high as 1200 feet.

One of the best ways to observe Lower Falls is by driving along North Rim or South Rim Drives. Begin your journey from the West Entrance of the Park. There are four lookout points: Inspiration, Grandview, Lookout, and Artists.

Each stop gives visitors a unique perspective of the impressive waterfall. Lower Falls is magnificent, from the gorgeous rock palettes of yellow, rust, and red to the crashing white waters of the falls. In the freezing temperatures of the winter months, Lower Falls turns into an icy faucet.

Address: North Rim or South Rim Drive, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

4. Fairy Falls

Plummeting almost 200 feet, Fairy Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the park. Use Fairy Falls Trail to get there.

Fairy Falls Trail is located at the end of Fountain Flat Drive and 1 mile south of Midway Geyser Basin from the Fairy Falls Parking Lot.

Hiking to Fairy Falls is glorious. The 5-mile trail is flat and stress-free as hikers make their way through the lodgepole pine forest. Hikers enjoy this one because they can explore the Park’s other natural beauties Imperial Geyser, Middle Geyser Basin, and Grand Prismatic Spring.

Ultimately, trekkers will be led to the basin of Fairy Falls. Enjoy the enthralling experience of watching the water tumble from the ledge above.

It’s a terrific day hike for the family and adventuresome cross-country skiers in the winter.

Address: Fountain Flat Dr., Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

Related Read: 15 Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park

5. Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls is an 84 feet high cascade that pours into Gibbon River and toward Yellowstone’s iconic caldera rim. Gibbon Falls continues to erode the rocks on its way down, which keeps the waterfall growing higher and higher.

The Yellowstone Caldera Rim or volcanic ridge was created by a volcanic eruption 640,000 years ago. Volcanic activity and lava made these magnificent mountains.

Spend a few different ways admiring the natural complexity of Gibbon Falls. The wonderful thing about Gibbon Falls is visitors can spend time in the area picnicking to the gushing sound of water in the background.

Those who want to stretch their legs appreciate the easy paved trail to the overlook. The tranquil path is an out and back path.

Drivers touring the park can quickly pull off Grand Loop Road between Norris Geyser Basin and Madison Junction for a roadside view.

Address: Grand Loop Rd., Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

6. Moose Falls

Moose Falls is a geothermal waterfall that drops 30 feet alongside Crawfish Creek. Moose Falls may be one of the smaller Yellowstone cascades. It's also one of the most serene, even with the plunging waters.

Moose Falls is 1.3 miles north past the South Entrance. Drive across the bridge over Crawfish Creek and see a turnout on the east side of the road.

From the your car, take a short walk just about 100 yards to the bottom or top of the falls. Visitors love to cool off at the bottom of Moose Falls, whether they take a refreshing dip in the basin or enjoy the misty vapor spraying from the gushing water.

Families find this waterfall one of the more accessible waterfalls to visit especially traveling with younger kids. The Park’s South Entrance and access roads are closed during the winter, so the best time to view Moose Falls is spring, summer, and fall.

Address: Highway 89, South Entrance Yellowstone National Park, WY

Fee: Grand Teton National Park is $35 per vehicle, Yellowstone National Park is $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

7. Undine Falls

Undine Falls captivates visitors with its powerful gush of water pouring from 60 feet high. Check it out from the road or take a hike into the canyon to experience Undine Falls.

This waterfall has three shelves that flow along Lava Creek. To appreciate the impact of Undine Falls, choose the beautiful view from the top.

Road trippers can park in the Undine Falls turnout off Grand Loop Road which is 4 miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs.

There is a 1.8-mile in-and-out trail to follow. From the car, drivers can also see the Falls 4-miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs. These are great options for families.

To view Undine up and close parking at the Lava Creek Picnic Area makes it possible. Here hikers can take the short and easy Lava Creek Trail or the Lava Creek Canyon Trail for hikers who want a more challenging adventure.

Address: Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

Related Read: Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone Road Trip

8. Firehole Falls

Firehole Falls is majestic within steep canyon walls as it makes its 40-foot descent. According to geologists, this waterfall was created more than 120,000 years ago from a rhyolite lava pool in Yellowstone’s supervolcano caldera.

To see all of its splendor, take Firehole Canyon Drive, about .5 miles south of Madison Junction and 15.5 miles north of Old Faithful Village. Firehole Canyon Drive snakes along with Firehole River and is also quite beautiful.

Plan with patience. Firehole Falls is a popular waterfall to visit. If the parking lot is congested, don’t give up; there are other roadside areas on Firehole Canyon Drive to park.

Address: Madison Junction, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

9. Silver Cord Cascade

Credit: yellowstonehiker / Flickr

Dropping 1200 feet into the Yellowstone River, Silver Cord Cascade is located in the Backcountry of Yellowstone. It is officially the tallest waterfall in the park and the tallest in Wyoming.

Silver Cord Cascade formally took its name in 1885 after being known as Silverthread Falls. Silver Cord is known as the horsetail waterfall because of its long shape. From a distance, Silver Cord Cascade looks like a thin silver thread tracing down the rocky mountainside.

Silver Cord Cascade isn’t the most straightforward fall to find. Hiking the in-and-out Clear Lake-Ribbon Trail will give you one of the best views of the waterfall. This trail allows backpackers to get close to the cascade.

Another option is to take the Seven Mile Hole Trail 1-mile, which provides hikers with a unique perspective from the North Rim across the canyon. Find Seven Mile Hole Trail from Glacier Boulder Trail close to Inspiration Point.

Both trails are incredible routes featuring stunning cliffs, lush forests, and hot springs.

Address: South Rim Road or North Rim Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

10. Crystal Falls

Credit: David Hedquist / Flickr

While Crystal Falls is one of the lesser-known waterfalls in the park, it is memorable. Plunging 129 feet, Crystal Falls flows over three separate rocky tiers from Cascade Creek. Crystal Falls is between the Upper and Lower Falls of Yellowstone.

The crystal-clear waterfall began from the creek’s outfall into the canyon, formed after the glacial period.

Take a peaceful hike to view the striking falls by parking off South Rim Drive at the Brink of the Falls lot. Begin on the Brink of the Lower Falls trail to access North Rim Trail. This route will take you above Crystal Falls to a scenic overlook.

There is another awesome but distant viewpoint from the South Rim Trail, east of Uncle Tom’s area.

Make it a day by touring the three canyon waterfalls in this area: Upper Falls, Crystal, and Lower.

Address: Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner in Park County, WY

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

Related Read: 50 Most Beautiful Places in the US

11. Upper Falls

These incredible falls are part of the upstream Yellowstone River and continue to be treasured by visitors. The Upper Falls rush of water dramatically drops 109 feet.

Many photographers have captured the rocky canyon during winter when the waterfall freezes. There are usually a few different locations to view Upper Falls. Uncle Tom’s Trailhead and Lookout is closed.

Drive from Canyon Village to South Rim Drive to park in Lot 1. Once parked, look for signs leading you to Upper Falls Viewpoint or Brink of the Upper Falls. It is a short walk to the Brink. Take a breath and look down the cliff to see the surge of water.

Address: Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

12. Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls is one of the few distinct geothermal waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park. Fed from the Little Firehole River, visitors will likely observe steam rising from side vents near the top of this 70-foot tall waterfall.

Plan on a hiking excursion in to see Mystic Falls. A couple of trails from the Biscuit Basin parking lot will lead you into the waterfall. Mystic Falls Trail is a 2.4-mile out-and-back hike.

Hikers will pass through the stunning Biscuit Basin, see the gorgeous clear blue Sapphire Pool, and walk by Fairy Creek.

There is also a 4.1-mile loop that takes you on a climb to the Biscuit Basin Overlook and the top of Mystic Falls.

Address: US-287, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

13. Wraith Falls

This waterfall is a fun and easy one to bring the kids. Wraith Falls has a gentler sloped drop of 79 feet on Lupine Creek in the Northern part of Yellowstone National Park.

The trail, under a mile, is a prevalent pathway. Start and end at the Lava Creek Picnic Area located on Grand Loop Road. Families are fond of this “hike.” It’s a great time exploring the sagebrush meadows and wildflowers along the trail. A generous segment of the walk is a boardwalk.

The short walk to the viewpoint appeals to all ages and levels of hikers. However, there is a slight climb before approaching the beautiful Wraith Falls.

Spring and summer are the optimal times to drop in. In winter, the waterfall freezes and can be challenging to spot with the heavy snowfall in the area.

Address: Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Fee: $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

14. Lewis Falls

Slow down at the nearby Lewis Falls pullout as you enter or make your way out of Yellowstone on South Entrance Road. You’ll find a lovely 30-foot waterfall just 11 miles into the park.

Seeing Lewis Fall is so convenient that some folks roll down the car windows for a quick gander. Or stay awhile to picnic, camp, fish, and enjoy the tranquility of the falls.

Have your camera ready as Lewis Falls is a stunning picture to snap. Many photographers spend time here capturing its beauty and rolling waters.

After parking, cross the Lewis River Bridge and head west towards the waterfall. Pull over after crossing the bridge if you arrive from the south. Lewis Falls is accessible spring, summer, and fall because the park closes South Entrance Road to vehicles during the winter.

Address: Yellowstone National Park, South Entrance Road, Moran, WY 83013

Fee: Grand Teton National Park is $35 per vehicle, Yellowstone National Park is $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

15. Union Falls

Getting to the incredible Union Falls is worth the 15.4-mile round trip hike. Falling at 265 feet, Union Falls is the third highest (Lower Falls and Silver Cord rank #1 and #2) in Yellowstone.

You’ll begin at the Grassy Lake Road trailhead outside of the park south on US Hwy 287, which is located outside of the South Entrance.

The hike to the waterfall can take 3 to 5 hours (depending on your pace). Aside from crossing Falls River (about ½-mile on the trail), the footpath is level and easy to walk. Horseback riding is welcome on this trail.

Once you reach Union Falls, you’ll be amazed by this splendid natural beauty. The cool mist spray from Union Falls is refreshing. Impressive and pretty, Union Falls is known for its cascading water over a wide rocky ledge.

Address: South Entrance Road, Yellowstone National Park, Moran, WY 83013

Fee: Grand Teton National Park is $35 per vehicle, Yellowstone National Park is $35 per car or $20 per person by foot, bike, or skis.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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