About the Site
Yellowstone National Park (8)  


Park History

Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful

Old Faithful Inn

Mammoth Hot Springs

West Thumb

Other Hydrothermals

Grand Canyon

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone & Other Lakes


Madison River




Hayden Valley




Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone Falls Arguably the most impressive physical feature of the park is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The most impressive feature of the canyon is the great falls of the Yellowsone River, shown below.

Yellowstone Falls is composed of two separate falls. The Lower Falls, shown below, is the higher of the two, at 308 feet, and is unquestionably the most photographed of the two. The Upper Falls is 109 feet high.

The Upper Falls is twice as high as the famous Niagara Falls. During high water season, over 64,000 gallons of water per second flow over the falls.

The grandeur of the falls and the canyon were brought to Americans in large part by William Henry Jackson. He would climb to unusual vantage points to get the best and most interesting pictures. Below is a picture of the river above the Upper Falls.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone The Grand Canyon itself has been formed by the erosive force of the Yellowstone River on the volcanic rock through which it flows. This process took about 160,000 years. The canyon, which is about 20 to 24 miles long, reaches a depth of 1540 feet. As seen below, it is also quite wide, ranging from 1000 to 4000 feet across.

Hot acidic water and steam altered the characteristics of the volcanic rock in this area, making it softer and vulnerable to erosion, as well as affecting its color. The canyon is basically a geyser basin eroded by a river. The upper 7 miles of the canyon lay within the confines of the crater from the great catastrophic eruption.

The striking yellow, orange, red, brown, and white colors of the canyon are the result of chemical alteration of the subterranean heat as well as minerals and iron oxides. Thomas Moran painted the canyon but stated that the colors of Yellowstone Canyon were "beyond the reach of human art."

A number of geysers can be seen at the bottom of the canyon.

Given the soft volcanic rock in the canyon area, it is not surprising that landslides are fairly common in the canyon.

Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River The Yellowstone River, at 675 miles long, is the longes undammed river in the lower 48 states. It's name--it was shown on 1797 map as "R. des Roche Jaune"-- derives not from the great canyon shown above, but probably for the color of rocks through which it flows downstream from the park.

The Yellowstone River is renowned for its fishing, where the cutthroat trout is the primary catch.

The headwaters of the Yellowstone River are found south of the park in the mountains. From the Grand Canyon area it makes a journey of 671 miles to the point where, as a southern tributary, it joins the Missouri River on its ultimate passage to the Gulf of Mexico.

The name of the Yellowstone River is likely drawn not from any characteristic of the river in the park but rather by Indians for sandstone bluffs through which the river flows downstream from the park. This view of the Yellowstone River is just east of the Roosevelt Lodge area.

- Next Page for Yellowstone National Park -

  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

  • Comments and other remarks can be sent via e-mail to parkvision@shannontech.com