The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, as seen from either Artist Point or Inspiration Point, is one of the truly great wonders of the West. It is hard to conceive such breath-taking beauty. Once you have gazed into its jagged depths, alive with color, you will never forget it, nor would you if you could.
Perhaps you stand on the rim, and gaze down into a seemingly bottomless void. Eagles and fish-hawks quite likely will be circling far below. The sides of the ragged pit will be painted with myriads of shifting, changing, vivid colors, with shades of yellow predominating. In the bright sunlight the canyon flames in glory. No sound comes from the echoless, yawning gulf at the bottom.
Grand Canyon—richly named! From Artist Point it is nearly 1,600 feet to the opposite side. There is a sheer drop of nearly 800 feet below the platform on which you stand. Down there lies the green, serpentine Yellowstone River. Your gaze follows the curve of the canyon to where, in the distance, may be seen the silvery sheet of the Lower Falls plummeting downward in a billowy cloud of misty spray.
You can also see the Canyon from other angles and obtain a fuller realization of its majestic beauty. This may be done at Point Lookout, or farther up, at the Grand View.
Time stands still at this mighty chasm. However long you stare in silent wonder, it seems like but a fleeting moment.
The Upper and Lower Falls
As the Yellowstone River flows from Yellowstone Lake toward the Missouri River and the Gulf of Mexico, it leisurely twists and winds through the Park until, about fifteen miles from its source, the river is converged to a width of less than fifty feet. Through foaming cataracts it suddenly rushes forward to hurtle down 112 feet in a graceful fall known as the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone. The velocity of flow is so great at the crest that the water pours over the lip of the canyon in a graceful arc.
On approaching the Grand Canyon, a good view of the Upper Falls may be had from an observation point about one quarter mile below Chittenden Bridge.
A short distance beyond the Upper Falls the swift, surging torrent again comes to a mighty precipice, this time with a drop of 308 feet—the famous Lower Falls. Plunging over, it leaps downward with a thunderous roar, and disappears in a cloud of spray, presenting an unforgettable picture. A third of the fall is hidden behind this vast cloud of spray which conceals the mad play of the waters beneath.
Leaving Grand Canyon, which you do reluctantly, your route is north to Mammoth Hot Springs. Along the way many interesting sights are seen. About midway between Canyon and Mammoth you see Tower Falls, one of the most graceful waterfalls in the world. Plunging 132 feet into a cavernous basin, rimmed with stately evergreens, the Fall gets its name from the tower-like spires of rock that guard the river’s approach to the precipice.
Mammoth Hot Springs Area
From Tower Falls, travellers follow the road to Mammoth Hot Springs, site of the Park administration buildings.
Along the sides of the hill, from which the natural springs well, are a group of steps or terraces over which flow the steaming waters of hot springs, laden with minerals. Each descending step has been tinted by the algae (plant life), living in the hot water, in a thousand tones. So vivid are these colors that they appear to vibrate and glow in the sunlight. Some of the older springs have now dried up, but about twenty are still active.
More Geysers—Norris Basin
Upon leaving Mammoth Hot Springs, on the way back to West Yellowstone, you come upon Norris Geyser Basin. Its geysers spout at frequent intervals and its steam vents noisily erupt great volumes of vapor. Constant, Minute Man and Whirligig are some of the geysers. Emerald, Opal, Iris and Congress are a few of the pools.
Enchanting Gibbon Falls will add another lingering memory of your trip through Norris Geyser Basin.