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Rainbow, Brink of Upper Yellowstone  Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | by Ken Lund
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Rainbow, Brink of Upper Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone Falls consist of two major waterfalls on the Yellowstone River, within Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States. As the Yellowstone river flows north from Yellowstone Lake, it leaves the Hayden Valley and plunges first over Upper Yellowstone Falls and then a quarter mile (400 m) downstream over Lower Yellowstone Falls, at which point it then enters the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is up to 1,000 feet (304 m) deep.


Cascading from the 590,000 year old Canyon Rhyolite lava flow, Lower Yellowstone Falls is the largest volume waterfall in the Rocky Mountains of the United States. These falls are 308 feet (94 m) high, or nearly twice as high as Niagara Falls. The volume of water flowing over Lower Yellowstone Falls can vary from 680 cu ft/s (19 m3/s) in the autumn, to 8,400 cu ft/s (240 m3/s) at peak runoff in late springtime. The flow rate of Lower Yellowstone Falls is much less than that of Niagara Falls, as the Yellowstone River is only 70 feet (21 m) at the point at which it goes over the lower falls, whereas the Niagara River is 2,600 feet (790 m) in width as it approaches the crest line of Horseshoe Falls.


Today, there are numerous vantage points for viewing the falls. The Canyon loop road skirts the west side of the canyon with several vehicle parking areas. One trail leads down to the brink of the lower falls, a steep third of a mile (600 m). Another vantage point descends from the east down a series of stairs attached to the cliffs.


The Lower Falls area is located just to the south and east of Canyon Village in Yellowstone National Park. A one-way loop drive starting south from Canyon Junction takes one to the brink of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and offers four viewpoints, with the first stop at the trail that leads to the top of the Lower Falls. The one-way drive continues east and north past the other viewpoints, rejoining the main Grand Loop road from the east at Canyon Junction once more.

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Taken on August 10, 2007