Our top picks for the best waterfall hikes near Montana Whitewater and Yellowstone National Park
Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park are gold mines for waterfalls and accessible hikes! Therefore, we created a list of our favorite waterfall hikes to help you narrow down your choices. In addition to the beauty of falling water, these hikes provide you with satisfying natural surroundings in Montana’s rugged wilderness. Some even say the negative ions in aerated water can provide positive energy. So, what else could you want?
Best Waterfall Hikes near Bozeman and Big Sky
Ousel Falls is one of Big Sky’s best kept secrets. The mellow 0.8 mile hike to the falls (on a well maintained gravel trail) is an accessible and fun outing for all ages and an absolute “must see” if you’re in the area. Whether you take an hour or spend an afternoon there, every season gives the 35 foot falls a curious new personality. Ousel Falls is less than a five minute drive from downtown Big Sky, why wouldn’t you go?
A scenic 45-minute drive from Bozeman, Grotto Falls is worth the commute. Located just past the Southern tip of Hyalite Reservoir, both the waterfall and the drive itself are stunning. An easy 1.25 mile out-and-back walk to Grotto Falls is perfect for kids, dogs, maybe even your parents, so bring the whole crew along! Though the falls aren’t extremely high, the sheer volume of the water and beautiful pools are a perfect place to stop, picnic and enjoy the beautiful Montana forest.
Now, if you’re feeling motivated, continuing on past Grotto Falls will bring you to Arch Falls, Champagne Falls, or Hyalite Lake. If you have time and the right equipment, each of those destinations is well worth the effort!
Located near Grotto Falls up Hyalite Reservoir, Palisade Falls is a staple of the “Bozeman Outdoors” and an absolute must-see. Not only is the stunning landscape of Hyalite Reservoir a treat itself, the magnificent 80 foot waterfall is the icing on the cake. Only one mile round trip, the falls are great year-round. In the winter, if you’re lucky, you can find ice climbers high on the frozen pillars of water. One of the easiest hikes in the area, Palisade Falls is paved and wheelchair accessible so anyone can enjoy its beauty!
Best Waterfall Hikes in Yellowstone National Park
Upper & Lower Falls- Yellowstone
The Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River’s beautiful 109-foot drop is a staple destination in Yellowstone National Park. While the Upper Falls is nearly a third the size of the Lower Falls, there is less tourist traffic, making the short hike to the overlook a worthwhile trip. Standing at the top of the falls, the impressive view down the drop coupled with the roar of the water, is stirring and a great Yellowstone experience.
The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River has wowed visitors for years. The spectacular 308 foot drop framed by the pastel yellow and pink canyon walls is a moving sight. A 0.4 mile hike on a well maintained, but steep, gravel switchback path will take you to the top of the falls to experience the striking power of the rushing water. Easier hikes from nearby Inspiration Point, Grandview Point, Lookout Point and Artists Point are sure to move you.
Gibbon Falls- Yellowstone
A roadside attraction in Yellowstone National Park, Gibbon Falls drops 84 feet and is less than 5 miles from the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers. You can find this very accessible waterfall at the Madison Junction on the Grand Loop Road.
Tower Falls Yellowstone
A 132 foot waterfall, this location in the park was first photographed in 1871 when William Henry Jackson and artist Thomas Moran explored the area. After showing Congress the beauty of the landscape, Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872. Rock columns north of the wall were created by the cooling process of lava flow that forced huge cracks in the formations. Until 1986, park visitors could see a large boulder teetering on the edge of the falls. Gravity ran its course and forced it over the falls. Due to severe erosion, visitors cannot hike to the bottom of the falls. There is a Tower Fall overlook and trail for 3/4 mile to see Tower Creek flowing into the Yellowstone River.