Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Trails and Overlooks

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Trails and Overlooks

Why this work matters

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is one of the most iconic scenes in the entirety of the National Park System. But after more than 70 years of unforgiving weather, erosion, and damage from increased visitation, the trails and overlooks surrounding the Canyon are in need of rehabilitation.

Geothermic, acidic soils, and heavy erosion around Canyon’s viewpoints have degraded overlook infrastructure over the years. Safety issues have also been cited as visitors go off paved surfaces to use social trails, or back up along aging barriers to take selfies of the canyon views. Current overlooks aren’t sufficient to be allow visitors who use wheelchairs or otherwise have additional accessibility needs to fully experience the Canyon’s beauty.

By investing in this project to fund improved and rehabilitated trails and overlooks, you directly ensure that the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone visitor experience is a cherished memory and not a chaotic experience punctuated by closed trails, deteriorating pathways, and a disorienting trail system with poor accessibility.

What needs to be done

As of Fall 2020, funds donated by Yellowstone Forever’s member and partners have been used to complete the rehabilitation of six overlooks in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area:

  • Uncle Tom’s Point
  • Artist Point
  • Lookout Point
  • Grandview Point
  • Inspiration Point
  • Brink of the Upper Falls

While we’re almost done, there’s still one more overlook to complete — and we need your help! Yellowstone National Park is set to begin construction on the Brink of the Lower Falls, but we’re $828,000 short of our goal! Currently a total of $3.6 million has been raised to complete Phase II of the improvements at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, but we need to reach $4.5 million by the end of 2021.

Current Condition of Brink of the Lower Falls

Proposed rendering of Brink of the Lower Falls Improvements

Issues requiring rehabilitation at the Brink of the Lower Falls include:

  • Uneven and precariously narrow walking surfaces full of potholes and erosion
  • Rotting log rails on bridges and along trails serve as unsuitable barriers
  • Social trails have stripped areas of native vegetation and erosion is undermining the stability of masonry walls that uphold the precarious overlooks
  • Visitor access to restroom facilities and viewing platforms is substandard for people with disabilities
  • Narrow and prohibitively steep walkways reduce accessibility and cause a “bottleneck” effect during busy visitation hours
  • A lack of intuitive visitor information leads to a disorienting visitation experience
  • Unsound retaining walls and foundations threaten the very structure of the overlooks.

What we’ve accomplished

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Before renovations
After renovations

Inspiration Point

Before rehabilitation
After rehabilitation

From a donor:

Yellowstone is a national treasure and it belongs to all of us. We are all better stewards of the planet if we are better educated about it, and Yellowstone Forever offers the opportunity to learn about America’s greatest park. — Carlene L., Tennessee