Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited parks in the US, and for good reason. Spanning across three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, the park is known for its geysers, hot springs, and diverse wildlife. One of the park’s hidden attractions is Gibbon Falls, a beautiful waterfall that can be reached via a very short and easy trail.
Overshadowed by the much more popular Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Springs, Gibbon Falls is an 84ft high waterfall that is viewed from a very short path from its parking lot. Don’t miss out on this waterfall!
Getting to Gibbons Falls
The GPS coordinates to the parking lot are 44.653824, -110.771713 (Google Maps Link).
To reach the trailhead for Gibbon Falls, take the West Entrance Road in West Yellowstone to the Madison Junction Area. From there, continue about 5 miles east on Grand Loop Road (Highway 89) until you reach the parking area for the waterfall. All in all, Gibbon Falls is about 18 miles from the west entrance. The trailhead is then just a short walk from the parking area and is easily accessible for all ages and abilities.
The paved parking lot doesn’t have a lot of room for many cars (less than a dozen), so getting there early (before 10am) or later in the day will help with the parking situation.
The Gibbon Falls Trail
This stop is more of a viewpoint than an actual trail because the path to Gibbon Falls is a short, easy walk that is about 1/4 mile long. The path is mostly level, paved and well-maintained, making it a great option for families with any age and ability. The out-and-back trail to the waterfall offers great views of the surrounding mountains and the Gibbon River Valley.
While not technically a true “hike”, this paved trail is perfect for someone who is looking for a quick stop to take in the beauty of Yellowstone without the need to fight through crowds or take a 10 mile hike. This waterfall is definitely worth the stop if you happen to be driving by and have 30 minutes to spare!
At the end of the paved path, visitors will reach the crest of the waterfall. The waterfall is especially beautiful in the spring and early summer when the water from snowmelt is at its peak, but it is beautiful any time of the year.
There are a few steep unofficial dirt trails that lead down to the base of the waterfalls for those that are brave enough to attempt them. However, those that do are rewarded with some amazing views of the waterfall from below.
|Hiking Distance||0.5 miles (0.8 km)|
|Hiking Duration||1/2 hour|
|Route Type||Out and Back|
|Difficulty Level||Very Easy|
|Elevation Climb||55 feet (17 m)|
|Fees||Free to hike, but Yellowstone NP charges an entrance fee.|
Gibbon Falls is located on the Gibbon River, which is a tributary of the Madison and Firehole Rivers. The waterfall is approximately 84 feet tall and has an average water flow of about 100 cubic feet per second. The elevation of the waterfall is 6,800 feet above sea level.
The waterfall itself is a gradual one, but is still surprisingly impressive. The water cascades over a remnant of the Yellowstone caldera rim rather than over a steep cliff. The caldera that it flows over was created by a volcanic eruption that happened around 631,000 years ago.
Nearby trails and other points of interest include the Firehole Canyon Drive and the Firehole Falls, which are located just a short drive away. The Firehole Canyon Drive is a scenic drive that offers great views of the Firehole River and the surrounding canyon. The Firehole Falls is a series of small waterfalls that are located along the river. Both the drive and the falls are great options for visitors looking to explore the area further.
Seasonal Weather & Winter Closures
The weather in Yellowstone National Park can vary greatly depending on the season. In the summer, temperatures can reach the high 80s and 90s, making it a great time for hiking and exploring the park. Spring and fall are also great times to visit, with milder temperatures and fewer crowds.
Winter is the most challenging season to visit, with snow and ice covering many roads and trails, but also offers unique experiences if you are willing to cross country ski or snowshoe around. Visiting Gibbons Falls is especially difficult in the winter, as Grand Loop Road (the main road to the parking lot) is closed from December through April.