Standing at the edge of a plunging, thundering waterfall is often the highlight of any day out in the wilderness. For a hiker like me, I will travel a hefty distance just to catch a glimpse of a beautiful waterfall! So you can imagine my surprise when I realized that in Yellowstone National Park, a gorgeous and spectacular waterfall view can be attained just by driving down the highway!
Amazingly enough, out of the hundreds of waterfalls in Yellowstone, there are a dozen waterfalls that you can see without having to take a hike. I love the idea of a roadside waterfall because a spectacular view is in reach for the everyday Yellowstone traveler! Although I love to hike, I recognize that there are people in this world who don’t like it or are unable to. This list is for everyone who loves waterfalls…simple as that!
Be advised that most of these waterfalls still require an extremely short walk from the car/parking area to get the best view.
Without further ado, these are my 6 favorite roadside waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park!
1. Firehole Falls
This waterfall is located along a gorgeous scenic drive through Firehole Canyon. The canyon boasts many small cascades that dance off the jumbled cliffs, but the most spectacular of all is the beautiful 40 foot high Firehole Falls.
The falls can be viewed by pulling into a small parking area and walking to the other side of the Firehole Canyon Scenic Drive, which is a narrow one-way road with extremely limited parking. The drive itself is stunning, but the waterfall is just the icing on the cake. Get an early start to ensure a place to park.
Firehole Falls is located along the Firehole Canyon Scenic Drive, just south of Madison.
2. Gibbon Falls
Discovered in 1872, Gibbon Falls tumbles 84 feet over the cliff’s edge to the delight of many Yellowstone visitors! This picturesque waterfall provides a gorgeous wilderness setting just a few steps from your car.
You can hear the water thunder while driving along the highway and you may catch a glimpse if you are lucky, but the best way to see Gibbon Falls is to park and walk along the paved pathway to numerous viewpoints. The parking area is bigger than other pullouts, but it still may be difficult to find a spot.
Gibbon Falls is located along the highway between the Madison and Norris Junctions.
3. Kepler Cascades
Enjoy these spectacular cascades from a dramatic overlook! A short stroll to the overlook takes you right into the action, perching you high above the river to provide the best view of this 150-foot waterfall that rages under your feet.
We love the Kepler Cascades because of the unique vantage point and gorgeous set of cascades that churn and thunder through this narrow part of the Firehole River. We feel like we are a part of the action when we take time to stop at this overlook! The parking area is small, but definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
Kepler Cascades is located along the highway south of Old Faithful.
4. Tower Fall
Named in 1870 for the towers and and pinnacles that frame it, Tower Fall plummets straight and steady for 132 feet to the ravine below. The sheer beauty of this waterfall will take your breath away!
Although the parking area is large, this area can be congested and difficult to navigate during peak season. We found the viewing area to be quite small compared to all the visitors trying to catch a glimpse of the fall, so bring your camera and your patience as you wait for that perfect shot. From the parking area, you will have to walk about 100 yards to the overlook.
Tower Fall is located along the highway between the Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Village sections of the park.
5. Undine Falls
This triple-plunge waterfall, Undine Falls, drops a stunning 60 feet into the canyon below. If you are looking for a roadside waterfall with a little more solitude, this is the one!
Pronounced Un-Deen, this waterfall was named for wise, usually female water spirits from German mythology who live around waterfalls. The playful nature of this waterfall is reflected in its name as the water from Lava Creek plunges over the cliffs.
Undine Falls is located along the highway between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt.
6. Upper Yellowstone River Falls
The sheer magnitude of this waterfall will leave you stunned, but the beauty of the Upper Yellowstone River Falls is what keeps people coming back. One of the most powerful waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park, the Upper Falls drops 109 feet to the incredible river below and continues to wind through the Yellowstone’s famous Grand Canyon.
This lesser-known counterpart of the Yellowstone River Falls, the Upper Falls, generally sees fewer crowds (though is still a very popular destination) and less publicity than the Lower Falls. This is why I love it and definitely recommend a stop as you drive through the Canyon Area. Several viewpoints exist for the Upper Falls, but we thoroughly enjoy stopping at the Brink of the Upper Falls turnout and walking the short 0.2 miles for the opportunity to stand right at the edge!
The turnoff for the Brink of the Upper Falls viewpoint is located between the North Rim Drive and the South Rim Drive in the Canyon Area, just along the main highway.
Runner Up: Lower Yellowstone River Falls
No list of waterfalls in Yellowstone would be complete without the mention of the most famous waterfall in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The 308-foot Lower Yellowstone River Falls is a must-see on any Yellowstone vacation, and is certainly worth any time invested to enjoy this iconic view!
Several vantage points are available, but the most famous place to see the falls (without having to hike) is from Artist Point. Expect numerous crowds and beautiful views!
If you are up for a hike and want an even better view of the Lower Falls, be sure to check out a few of our favorites, Uncle Tom’s Trail or the Red Rock Trail.
Artist Point is located at the end of the South Rim Drive in the Canyon Area.