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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

This is the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, in Yellowstone National Park.  I’ve traveled to Yellowstone many times over the past 40 years.  This is always near the top of my list as a must see sites.  There are many points from which to view the falls along the Canyon.  There are hiking trails along the north and south rims of the canyon.  On the north side there is a board walk you can use to access the viewing points.  Both sides also have roads that travel part way along the Canyon from the Falls.  My goal has to been to find the falls bathed in the Golden Light.  After a few attempts, I came to realize (I’m a slow learner) that the Golden light wouldn’t hit the falls. It is blocked by the walls of the Canyon.  You can see this in the photo above.  I took this in late October, 2008 while participating in Moose Peterson’s, Basecamp, in Yellowstone National Park.  Moose in an Iconic Photographer of wildlife and landscape, that was running a week long photography workshop in Yellowstone.  For this picture, we were at Red Rock Point at about 6:30 am.

Moose Peterson (right) speaking with a photographer

We had great light, but what I wanted for the subject of my picture was not in the ‘Golden Light’!  I shot this picture using a Nikon D3 with a 24-70/f2.8 at 200 ISO (mounted on a GT3541XLS Tripod with a Real Right Stuff BH-55 head).

Despite my lamentations, this is a great area for landscape photography.  There are a number of great perspectives you can hike to and see the falls from.  Two of my favorites are; Artist Point and Uncle Tom’s Trail.  Uncle Tom’s Trail, trail head, is located near the Lower Falls on the South side of the Canyon.  There is a parking lot and bathrooms near the trail head.  Be forewarn though, it can be a moderate to tough hike if you’re not in shape.  There is a 150 foot drop from the trail head as it descends to the base of the falls along over 300 steps.  And, yes, you have to hike back up those stairs when you’re done (there is no elevator).  But, it’s well worth the view. You might get a little wet from the mist created by the water plunging into the Yellowstone River.  You can access Artist’s Point from the same trail head (or get back in the car and drive to it).  The trail goes along the edge of the canyon (warning: there is no guard rail).  It’s a leisurely hike with great vistas to consume.  But, be aware that the weather in Yellowstone can change in a minute.  The mountains there tend to make their own weather.  I’ve been hiking in sunny, 65 degree weather along the canyon edge one minute, only to find my self in a hail storm and 40 degree weather minutes later.  And, with no guard rail, it can make the rest of the hike interesting to say the least!

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