While visiting Yellowstone National Park last summer and on the same grey and rainy day we toured West Thumb Geyser Basin, my friends and I also drove to and explored some of the front country area around Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. We checked out several spots near the canyon area but the view of Lower Falls from Artist Point was my favorite.
Many artists have visited Yellowstone’s Lower Falls over the years. In fact the Hayden Survey in the early 1880’s included both photographer William Henry Jackson, who became famous for his groundbreaking images of the expanding American West, as well as Thomas Moran, whose paintings of the Yellowstone country helped pave the way to it’s protection. No wonder this prominent viewpoint is called Artist Point!
The canyon is one thousand feet deep in some places and the lower falls cascade an incredible 308′ into the canyon. Amazingly, at 308′ of drop, Lower Falls are not the tallest waterfall in Yellowstone. It is however, the largest waterfall by volume not only in Yellowstone but the American Rockies.
Don’t let the precipitous drop you see in my photos deter you; the area is well marked and safe. These views are but a short and easy stroll from the parking area and can be enjoyed by anybody!
I recently returned from a backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park, a trip in which my group never saw the sun and was constantly wet. Heck, it was the last week of August and one night the snow line came within a few hundred vertical feet of our camp! With the weather making things such a struggle to stay dry and warm, it was a real challenge to get out and take great pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I am busy editing a bunch of photos that I did take in Yellowstone, I just wasn’t as successful as I had hoped to be.
Personal expectations aside, I did manage a few great images on the morning of my last day of vacation. I had just dropped my travel companions off at the Jackson Hole airport and was heading north towards Togwotee Pass and on towards home in Casper, Wyoming when I noticed the storm clouds start to part and barely reveal glimpses of the Teton Range off to the west. I thought the moment was right just as I was pulling up to the start of a construction zone. I pulled off the road onto the shoulder and jumped out of my truck to get a few images as the clouds lifted off the mountains. I got a tongue lashing from the flagger for exiting my truck at the start of a construction zone, but after a week of frustrating and lack luster photography conditions, I was fine with taking the abuse in order to capture a special moment in an incredible mountain setting.
Yellowstone National Park…I currently own five maps that cover the topography and trails of the entire park. Yet, I have never been in the Yellowstone backcountry. In fact, I have only visited Yellowstone once. Even though I have moved to Wyoming, the park’s closest entrance is still a four and a half hour drive from my home in Casper. Even with the long drive, I plan to visit America’s first National Park many times to come; in fact, I’ve officially booked a four day backpacking trip into its backcountry this August!
Until August, all I can do is look at my earlier images from the park and dream of what sites are to come. I’m so excited, I had to share a few…