Photographing the amazing Yellowstone waterfalls is always at the top of our list of things to do in the park.
As you start to plan your Yellowstone vacation, be sure to add waterfalls to your itinerary each day.
We have visited Yellowstone in the Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter. Each season showcases these waterfalls in different way.
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BEST CAMERA GEAR TO PHOTOGRAPH WATERFALLS IN YELLOWSTONE
We rely on our Camera Gear Checklist to make sure all the necessary equipment is packed in our camera bag ready to go – so we don’t forget anything.
We recommend the following items for photographing Yellowstone waterfalls:
1. Camera: If you’re looking for something new…
2. Tripod: We always recommend using a tripod to photograph waterfalls, especially if you want to capture long exposure images.
3. Remote Shutter Release: If you’ll be capture long exposure waterfall photos, a remote shutter release is essential to take away that extra ‘shake’ when pressing the button.
4. Camera Bag: Protecting your camera from the splash of water near waterfalls is essential. Using a camera backpack is so nice for hiking too.
5. Filters: It can be tricky to photograph waterfalls if the light is casting harsh white tones in the water. Using a neutral density filter helps to shield that harsh light to make it more even.
6. Camera cleaning kit: You’ll want a field cleaning kit to remove water mist that WILL make its way to your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.
7. Memory cards: Purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card!
8. External hard drive: Don’t forget to copy the photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’.
Yellowstone Waterfalls Map
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO SEE YELLOWSTONE WATERFALLS
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Spring
The rivers and waterfalls are full and raging from the snow runoff. You can see, hear and feel the power of the water as it rushes by.
It’s important to practice water safety during the spring/summer: Often, people do not experience fear when standing next to water in the same way that they would if they were standing on the edge of a precipitous cliff. However, intentional or unintentional entrance into the water can be as dangerous as falling off a cliff. (Recreation.Gov)
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Summer
The water flow is still good at this time. But you’ll need to pack your patience to navigate the crowds and deal with the biting bugs!
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Fall
Yellowstone in October is wonderful. We enjoyed relative quiet in the park. The only downside was the reduced water flow in the rivers. The waterfalls didn’t have the volume of water they would have during spring and early summer. But they were mesmerizing nonetheless!
Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Winter
During a Yellowstone winter vacation, the park has a blanket of snow and you can thoroughly enjoy the peace and tranquility of the park! The only way to see most of the waterfalls is with guided tours on snowmobiles or snow coaches.
MUST SEE WATERFALLS AT YELLOWSTONE
The following descriptions are for waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park that don’t require hiking to see them.
Use our photos and tips to help guide you to each waterfall on your Yellowstone trip!
The waterfalls are listed in alphabetical order.
CANYON: LOWER & UPPER FALLS
The Lower & Upper Falls in the Canyon area are the most popular waterfalls in the park.
The Yellowstone River carved out what’s known today as Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The steep canyon walls and yellow rocks that line it are how the park got the name “Yellowstone.”
You can view the 308 foot Lower Falls from various points along both sides of the canyon rim.
NORTH RIM DRIVE WATERFALLS:
Visit the North Rim view points in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds. The North Rim Scenic Drive is a short one-way road along the north rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It has limited parking.
There are several stops along the North Rim Scenic Drive where you can park and enjoy breathtaking views of the canyon and the Lower Falls.
Inspiration Point, Grand View and Lookout Point are the easiest view points to access. Red Rock Point and Brink of Lower Falls Trail are a bit more strenuous but definitely worth the short walk.
PHOTO TIP: Stop at all the view points, as each one offers a unique vantage to experience and photograph the Lower Falls and canyon with the river running through it.
BRINK OF THE UPPER FALLS:
Access the Bring of the Upper Falls on the short road located between the North and South Rim Drives. Walk a short distance to the brink of the 109 foot Upper Falls. This is where the Yellowstone River begins to descend into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
In the spring you can hear and feel the power of the water as it rushes through the narrow section and over the drop.
If you walk a little further down this paved path, past the trail to the brink of the falls, you will end up at the Old Chittenden Bridge which was the old roadway used for travelers who came through this area. You can also see the bridge that takes you to the South Rim Drive.
SOUTH RIM DRIVE WATERFALLS:
South Rim Drive is a short road in the Canyon Area where you can see both the Upper and Lower Falls. From the first parking lot you can access a viewpoint of the Upper Falls. There is a longer trail through the woods that leads to Uncle Tom’s Trail. Posted signs will point you in the right direction.
TAKE NOTE: Uncle Tom’s trail is a steep descent on steel stairs into the canyon coming to an end at a platform that puts you right in front of the Lower Falls. It’s an impressive view of the falls and the canyon, but the climb up from the bottom is fairly strenuous.
At the end of South Rim Drive you will find Artist Point. It’s a very short paved trail from the parking lot to the actual viewpoint. This is a very popular spot for visitors to view the Lower Falls in the distance with the yellowed canyon walls on either side. We recommend getting there early in the morning.
PHOTO TIP: Sunrise is the best time to take photos at Artist Point. The waterfall faces the east and the rising sun will illuminate the falls and canyon.
Firehole Canyon Drive is a 2 mile one way road that runs along the Firehole River. The river provides photographic opportunities as well.
Dave was disappointed there are signs prohibiting climbing to the base of the falls. He enjoys capturing the full magnitude of a waterfall from the base of the falls.
PHOTO TIP: Take the time to create various compositions. Find different angles, distances and frames to photograph the falls.
Firehole Falls is one of our favorites to photograph – spring, summer, fall and winter.
Gibbon Falls is a spectacular waterfall where the Gibbon River flows 84 feet over the erosion-resistant rock of the giant caldera rim.
There is a large parking lot and a paved trail above the banks of the Gibbon River.
- Gibbon Falls is more scenic in the afternoon when the sun lights up the falls, but be prepared for the crowds, especially during peak season.
- Walk along the path to photograph various angles, distances and frames.
Kepler Cascades is a stunning roadside waterfall that drops roughly 100 feet over a series of falls with the largest drop around 50 feet.
A small parking lot is available where a short boardwalk leads to a wooden platform on the canyon’s edge providing the perfect spot to take photos.
PHOTO TIP: During sunrise and early morning the river and waterfalls are in shade which provides even lighting for photographing this location.
Lewis Falls is a 30 foot waterfall located along the South Entrance Road just south of Lewis Lake. There is a small parking area and a sign alerting you to the falls (Parking might be difficult to find during peak time and season).
It is not a very high waterfall, but the easy roadside access makes it a very popular destination.
PHOTO TIP: Walk down to the river’s edge to get a view of the falls where the river, rocks and logs provides interesting foreground elements.
Located about a mile and half from the South Entrance to the park, the trail to Moose Falls is an easy 100 yards.
- This is one of the few waterfalls where you can hike to the base. The trail is short but steep.
- Photograph this waterfall in the morning to get the sunlight shining through the trees.
- Walk around and be creative with composition at this location.
Tower Fall is 132 feet and surrounded by eroded volcanic pinnacles. The overlook is 100 yards from the parking lot.
We were disappointed the trail down to the base of the waterfall has been permanently closed since the early 2000’s due to seismic activity in the area, a landslide, and a high rate of erosion from the heavy foot traffic.
PHOTO TIP: Hike the trail to access a wonderful section of beach where Tower Creek meets the Yellowstone River. There are many photographic possibilities here so let your creativity take flight! The trail is 3/4 mile long and a bit steep in some places so be prepared for the extra effort to hike back up.
The serenity of this location combined with the sound of running water made it one of our favorite stops. It was nice to find a quiet spot away from the tourists who were only focused on seeing Tower Falls.
Undine Falls is a section of Lava Creek that runs 60 feet over the edge into a small canyon down below. Walk a short distance from the parking lot to view this two-tiered waterfall.
PHOTO TIP: Undine Falls faces west so it’s best photographed before sunrise, the late afternoon or evening.
Virginia Cascades is a drive by waterfall, literally. It’s a 60-foot cascading waterfall on the Gibbon River located along a two mile one-way narrow road with steep drop-offs on the passenger side. There aren’t many pullouts along the road. We found one a bit down the road after we passed the falls and had to walk back to find a location to view and photograph them.
PHOTO TIP: Due to the narrow road, the space to set up a tripod and spend time taking pictures is limited…and could be dangerous if the traffic is heavy. It’s also difficult to find the ‘right spot’ along the road to get a good view of the waterfall.
This is one waterfall we would skip in favor of the many others in the park that provide parking and space to safely see and photograph them.
YELLOWSTONE VACATION TIPS & RESOURCES
Hotels and Vacation Rentals Near Yellowstone
Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:
Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:
Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:
Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
Mountain View Cabin, Cooke City – great views and we enjoyed having a washer and dryer!
High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!