2006: Yellowstone

Canyon of the Yellowstone



Who knew Yellowstone had its own Grand Canyon? Granted, it's not quite as large or deep or spectacular as that other one, but it's less intimidating and more accessible. You can hike the entire rim in a couple of hours, where you can get astounding view after view of two really kick-ass waterfalls.You can descend almost to the canyon floor on a set of metal stairs, get misted by one of those waterfalls, and climb back up in just about an hour. And you can see the beautiful Yellowstone River for almost the entire hike, showcased appropriately by the colorful carved rocks of the canyon walls. Take that, Arizona.

We hiked the south rim of the canyon, which gives the best views of the falls at various vista points. Moving west to east, we viewed the first major falls -- imaginatively named Upper Falls -- from a vista point high above the water on the canyon rim.

...Uncle Tom's Trail! We survived...

We descended to the level of Upper Falls using Uncle Tom's Trail, which is no longer a trail but rather a set of imposing steel staircases. It's quite a trek, especially going back up, but worth the close views of the falls.

And what would an Upper Falls be without a Lower Falls? This roaring surge of white water is part of one of the most-photographed locations in the entire country. Called Artist's Point, it's a large viewing area on the south canyon rim.

Not wanting the spot to lose its reputation, I snapped away to the limits of my memory card and the patience of my husband.