Maybe it’s the unexpected nature of waterfalls that makes them so special. You often hear the sound first, in the distance, rumbling like constant thunder. And then when you spot it, you’re hit with sheer delight. The beauty, power, and elegance of watching gravity-fueled water cascade from above is a highlight of any hiking trip. The United States has some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, and many are accessible by equally impressive hikes.
1. Lower Yellowstone Falls
The country’s first national park is home to several memorable sights, including Old Faithful, just one of the preserve’s spectacular geysers. In fact, two-thirds of all the world’s geysers are found in Yellowstone . But it’s not just the water being shot into the sky that makes the trip worthwhile. Yellowstone Falls is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the west, dropping nearly 500 feet in two sections from Yellowstone Lake into the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
The Upper Falls are an impressive sight at 109 feet tall. But the 308-foot tall Lower Yellowstone Falls are the signature non-geyser feature in the park. The lower section is twice as high as Niagara Falls, and spills the largest volume of any waterfall in the Rockies.
Located just east of Canyon Village in the north-central section of the park, the Lower Yellowstone Falls is easily accessible by a one-way road that offers four vantage points for viewing. The trail is accessible from the final stop, where a steep, three-quarter mile round-trip hike is all it takes to reach the top of the falls. From there you can take Uncle Tom’s Trail to descend the 500 vertical feet to the bottom. Just remember, you’ll have to climb the 328 steel steps to return to the top.