Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
325.00 ft (99.06 m)
Trail type
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Uncle Tom's Trail is one of the Yellowstone National Park's most unique trails. A steep stair case descends from the rim of the canyon and takes you near the base of the famous Lower Falls. As the falls plunge 308 feet into the canyon, the impact throws a cloud of mist into the air creating the often seen rainbow at the base of the falls. This short hike is an excellent addition to a day spent exploring the many trails and viewpoints of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

"Uncle Tom," an adventurer from Bozeman, Montana, built the original trail in the late 1800s. At the time the trail consisted of a series of ropes and rope ladders to aid in the descent down the rocky canyon walls to the base of the falls. After he built the trail, the park service granted him a permit to ferry park visitors across the river and guide them down to the lookout. The dangerous nature of the trail eventually led the park service to shut down the guided trips to the lookout. Today a staircase has been built by the National Park Service and serves as a much safer alternative to reach the lookout.

To reach Uncle Toms Trail, park at Artist Point and hike the South Rim Trail about 0.5 miles until you reach the junction for Uncle Tom's Trail. Uncle Tom's Trail descends the rocky cliffs of the Grand Canyon to a lookout platform that is a great place to grab some photos, have a snack, or just take in the mighty roar of the massive Lower Falls. To return to your car, simply follow the South Rim Trail back to Artist Point.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Amazing views of Lower Falls. Unique trail.


Artist Point is very crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

7,799.00 ft (2,377.14 m)


Historically significant
Bird watching
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping


Uncle Tom's Point and Parking Area, Uncle Tom's Trail (the stairs), and the entire South Rim Trail are closed for reconstruction: expect completion in spring of 2018. source:
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