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Telluride, Colorado - OutdoorPlaces.Com
 
 Yellowstone National Park, Canyon Country, Wyoming, United States

Why The South Rim Of Yellowstone Canyon Is The Best Hike In Yellowstone
Hiking The South Rim
Artist Point
Lily Pad Lake Trail
Point Sublime
Clear Lake Trail
Hidden Thermal Area

Meadows Of The Yellowstone Grand Canyon
Clickable Yellowstone Canyon South Rim Trail Map
Hiking In Bear Country
Altitude 101
Hiking Equipment
Printable Day Hiking Equipment List

 

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming has over 1,200 miles of hiking trails within it's boundaries.  To make a claim that one person has found the best day hike in the entire park is a tall order, and probably open to a lot of controversy.

The reason the staff at OutdoorPlaces.Com feels that of all 1,200 miles Canyon Country is the best place to day hike, or set off for a backcountry adventure, are five fold.  First, it is very easy to access this location, there are a number of parking areas and access roads at the northern side of the trailheads, so if you only have three to four hours, you can still have a very enjoyable hike.  Second, the starting terrain to get onto these trails are moderate to strenuous.  This discourages those with less ambition from wandering further back on the trails, which allows for solitude a short distance from the parking lot on relatively flat trails typically in good condition.  Third, these areas were spared the wrath of the 1988 fires and are unscathed.  Fourth, these trails connect to a spider web of much longer backcountry trails allowing you to escape into the wilderness, or exit quickly to safety.  And finally five, no where else in the park can you see four key Yellowstone features in four miles including the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, thermal mud pots, vents, and lakes, old growth forest, and open meadow.

Your journey will start at the Uncle Tom's Trailhead located on the South Rim Drive in Canyon Country.  When you get there, make sure to pick up a Yellowstone Association Canyon pamphlet which will be located in a heavy metal box in the parking lot.  If the box is empty, you can try any of the other parking lots.  The requested donation is 25 cents and it is worth it.

Proceed to the north and you will find the trailhead and a good view of the canyon.  There will be a lot of people here.  Head east on the South Rim Trail.  If you want a diversion, you can go down the 300 steps on Uncle Tom's Trail into the canyon to get some good views of the lower falls.

The crowds at Uncle Tom's will quickly dissolve due to the undulating terrain which will discourage those with less ambition.  The view to the east is dazzling but as you move further away from lower falls, make sure to look back to the west of the ever improving views.  It is about 1-3/4 miles to Artist point heading east.

The solitude of the trail is quickly shattered by the bustle of the Artist Point parking lot.  Follow the northern side of the parking lot east and you will come to a wide trail with swarms of people -- don't despair, true solitude is not far away!  You need to stop at Artist's Point and look west back at the lower falls of Yellowstone Canyon.  This location will provide you a view of Yellowstone's second most famous feature (Old Faithful being first).

From Artist's Point you will turn east on the South Rim Trail heading toward Point Sublime and Lily Pad Lake (wrongly marked on the Yellowstone Association Map as Lily Pond Lake).  The trail becomes more challenging on this stretch, and if you are not use to the altitude, you should allow yourself a little extra time.  Within 200 yards of Artist's Point, the crowds and the noise have quickly dissolved into spectacular canyon views.  Unlike the first 1-3/4 miles of the trail, where the best view was to the west behind you, the surreal colors of Yellowstone Canyon are now laid out before you to the east as you move along the rim of the trail.

About 6/10 of a mile east from Artist's Point, you will come to the trailhead for Lily Pad Lake, Ribbon Lake, and Wapiti Lake Trails.  You can continue another 4/10 of a mile east to Point Sublime, which is diagonal from Inspiration Point on the north rim, and gives you bragging rights for walking the entire south rim trail.

Lily Pad Lake Trail south into Yellowstone Backcountry...
 

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