Grand canyon of the yellowstone

Near Canyon Village Yellowstone, WY


Until I came to Yellowstone, I thought the only Grand Canyon was in the southwest. Well, I was wrong. This Grand Canyon is 20 miles long, up to 4,000 feet wide, and 1,200 feet deep. But what makes this location special is the combination of the pink, yellow, and orange colored walls, and the massive 300 ft Lower Yellowstone Falls.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - of all the many great photographic locations inside of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone provides the most breathtaking views and infinite compositions. There are several great vantage points to take pictures from (on both the south or north rim). The classic shot is from Artist Point on the south rim. However, I think the best shots are taken from north rim. The shot above was taken on the south rim just off of the main parking lot. 

Trail Difficulty - MODERATE

I would rate the difficulty of the trail to Artist Point on the south rim a 1 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult) as it is an easy 200yd walk from the visitor’s parking lot. However, the trail to the location of this photograph is a bit more challenging - which is why I rate it as a 2. 

The difficulty of the hike to the location of the shot is very short, but is somewhat dangerous and should not be taken lightly. 

Download KMZ Trail File

Click Here to download the KMZ file for this location.

GPS Coordinates & Elevation

Google Maps Birds-Eye-View

Click link above to view location in Google Earth


CLICK HERE to get driving directions to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone parking lot.

The location is in central Yellowstone and can be accessed from all directions. These directions are from the Yellowstone South Entrance, coming from Jackson, WY.

From the Yellowstone South Entrance, travel north on US-191 for 21.2 miles toward the community of West Thumb. At this point the road splits. Take a right (east) on US-20 for 20.6 miles around the lake.

Once past the lake, continue on Grand Loop Rd. for another 13.1 miles. As you get close to Canyon Village, take a right (east) on South Rim Dr. and drive for 1.6 miles to the visitor’s parking lot of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Artist Point is at the end of the visitor’s parking lot.

Best Time of Day to Shoot

The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone can be shot any time of day; however, I find the location best at sunrise and early morning, as you often get a rainbow over the Lower Yellowstone Falls. Another good time to shoot this location is on an overcast afternoon. 

Best Time of Year to Shoot

Spring, summer, or fall are great times to shoot The Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone. 

The above shot was taken on June 14th

What Lens(es) Do You Need

Lenses ranging from 24mm - 200mm can be used in this location, depending on the composition you choose. The shot above was made by stitching together 4 shots vertically with a 24mm lens and panoramic tools. 


Once you have paid to get into Yellowstone National Park, there are no permits required.

Direction of the Shot

The direction of the shot is west @ 250°.

Special Nuances of Shot

The park service provides one of the very best viewpoints of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Artist Point on the south rim. From Artist Point, it is a straightforward shot. It is a fairly small area. If you shoot here after the tourists arrive, you will be surrounded.

 The shot above was taken just off of the Artist Point visitor’s parking lot. I jumped over the red fence (about 30 yds east of the restrooms) and walked up a slope to a trail on the ledge of the canyon. 

Special Equipment Needed

Other than a tripod, there is no need for any special photography equipment unless you plan on doing a panoramic shot. If you arrive pre-dawn at this location in the fall, it is most likely to be cold, so be sure to bring appropriate clothes, hats, and gloves.

Number of Other Photographers to Expect

Artist Point on the south rim is VERY busy during the day, with hundreds and hundreds of tourists. However, if you shoot at sunrise or early morning, you will see fewer other photographers there. 


Current Weather

Weather in Yellowstone is mild in the late spring, summer, and early fall and bitter in the winter. The weather in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and changes quickly.

Cell Service

I use Verizon, and there is NO cell service at this location. There is limited cell service at the Canyon Village.

Overnight Lodging/Camping

Canyon Village is a very small community only 1 mile from The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The community has a general store, a post office, a cafeteria, a couple of lodging locations, and a very nice campsite (Yellowstone Canyon Campground). The campground has a nice shower and laundry with 250 campsites, but books up quickly in the summer. 

Nearby camping and lodging

Camping - click on the campground below for directions

Yellowstone Canyon Campground – (in Canyon Village)


Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review

Canyon Lodge – Canyon Village
(800) 299-0396
3 Canyon Loop Drive, N Rim Dr, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Dunraven Lodge – Canyon Village
North Rim Drive, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins (on Lake Yellowstone)
(307) 344-7311
Yellowstone National Park, WY

Nearby Restaurants

Canyon Village is a very small community with a dinning room, deli and cafeteria. None of the eating establishments are special; it is just national park food.

Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review

Canyon Lodge Dining Room
(866) 439-7375
Canyon Village Area, Yellowstone National Park

Canyon Lodge Deli
Canyon Village Area, Yellowstone National Park

Canyon Lodge Cafeteria
Canyon Village Area, Yellowstone National Park

Laundry Mat

The only laundry mat in this area is in the Yellowstone Canyon Campground. There is also a shower at this facility. 

Other Photography Opportunities Around

Click on an image below to move to that location

Airport Options


Area Guides and Workshops

Jackson Hole (JAC) is usually the nearest airport for this area. It is a very nice, small, clean airport just 11 miles north of the city of Jackson.

Other major airports in the vicinity of Yellowstone Park are Denver, Salt Lake City, and Billings. Of those three, Billings would be the closest. Billings to the northeast entrance is 120 miles (over Beartooth Pass).

Other Resources

The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service)