Here we are at Canyon Village! We’ve come so far together on this Virtual Yellowstone Road Trip 🙂
Canyon Village’s namesake is one of the parks most beautiful features- the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Not to be confused with the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, this canyon is a sight all its own. What makes this canyon special is that it boasts the biggest waterfall in the park.
Most of the attractions in Canyon Village involve viewpoints over the canyon or the falls, so I’ll include all of those plus the hikes that can get you there.
So grab your camera and lace up your hiking boots, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Canyon Village!
Everything to see and do in Canyon Village
Enjoy the Lower Falls from Artist’s Point
Artist’s Point is the main attraction here at Canyon. Just a short walk from the main parking lot at the South Rim, a multilevel viewing deck lets you take in the mighty Lower Falls, and the paint pallet of reds and yellows that form the canyon walls.
It really is magnificent, and it’s probably one of the best photo ops you can get in Yellowstone.
You’re gonna have to fight for it though. Especially in the middle of the day, because throngs of tourists pile onto the decks for the perfect picture.
My advice is to be patient and wait for a really great view to open up, then scrunch make yourself as small as possible so you can enjoy the canyon for a few minutes without getting in anyone’s photo!
Take in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Inspiration Point
While you don’t necessarily get a view of the falls from Inspiration point, there’s a lot to like about this part of the North Rim trail.
For one, it’s a lot less crowded that Artist’s Point. Inspiration point also has multiple viewing decks and includes a sort of suspended bridge, so photographers can get a variety of angles while enjoyers can enjoy the canyon and all of its views.
From Inspiration Point, the canyon drops straight down and the sight is staggering. The wind buffets you fiercely and ravens and swallows fly all over the place.
Here’s my favorite view from Inspiration Point:
You can get to Inspiration Point from the Lodges by taking the Grand View Point Trail (0.6 miles) to where it intersects with the North Rim Trail and hiking 1.25 miles east. Or you can get there by taking the North Rim trail from the Brink of the Lower Falls parking lot (~3 miles).
Have your world rocked at Brink of the Lower Falls
I should preface by saying that this hike is a doozy. It is almost a mile of switchbacks that wind down the canyon, meaning it’s a huge change in elevation and very steep.
But I cannot convey how fantastic it is to stand at the brink of the mighty Yellowstone Falls. Even with my brand-spankin’ new shin splints. The viewing platforms stretch out onto the edge where the water from the Yellowstone River tumbles over 300 feet.
And that means that you are subject to a truly dizzying view and the calming sound of roaring. I couldn’t hear my sisters over that thundering, but I could tell that they were equally dazzled.
And appreciate Crystal Falls on the way
If you’re a waterfall-lover like I am, then do I have news for you…
On the hike down the canyon to the Brink of the Upper Falls, you’ll pass by the semi-hidden gem of Crystal Falls! On one side of the trail, a stream made of snowmelt trickles into a cave on the other side of the trail, and emerges into an angelic 129 foot waterfall!
Or give Brink of the Upper Falls a try
If the intensity of the Brink of the Lower Falls trail is too intense, never fear. You can still experience standing at the brink of a waterfall at the Brink of the Upper Falls.
This trail is only 1/8 miles from the parking lot, and is much less steep.
Try Skiing in the winter season
If you want to give cross-country skiing a try, there are some nice areas near the Old Canyon Bridge, Cascade Lake, and the Roller Coaster Ski trail. Be sure to check with a ranger before setting out, and visit this site for more advice.
Not much to say besides it is a giant boulder sticking up out of the ground. It is dutifully marked, and so you can see it as you drive along the Canyon Rim Road.
It’s a huge rock in the middle of the woods and I love it for that.
Canyon Visitor Education Center
If hiking isn’t your thing, then you probably may have trouble finding much to do at Canyon.
However, the visitors center here is one of the better ones in the park. It’s a two-story log cabin packed with lots of exhibits about Yellowstone’s geology and the super volcano. Plus, it’s got air conditioning!
Ribbon Lake can be accessed from the Clear-Ribbon Lake trail at the South Rim. This trail leads you along the rim of the canyon where the views are so nice, they call this area Sublime Point. Then travel through the woods until you reach the quiet-lily pad covered lake. This is a less-trafficked trail if that is something you’re looking for.
Red Rock Point
Red Rock Point is a viewing area over the canyon that can be reached from the Red Rock lookout point trail. It’s named for the red deposits that streak vertically down the canyon.
Cascade and Grebe Lake
These quiet lakes require a longer hike to get to. From the Cascade Lake Trailhead, it’s 2 miles to Cascade Lake, and then 1.5 additional miles to the larger Grebe Lake.
Where to Eat in Canyon Village
Canyon General Store
While most general stores usually only have snacks and groceries, the Canyon General Store also offers sandwiches like burgers and an ice cream parlor.
The Falls Cafe is mostly grab-and go stuff. Think deli sandwiches, salads, and whatnot.
The Canyon Eatery
has a lot to offer. currently, there are two options: comfort food (think meat and potatoes) and noodle bowls, as well as drinks, coffee, and alcohol?!
Yep, alcohol! Locally crafted brews available here. I couldn’t really see the options though as I was trying to order, and I accidentally got a cider instead of a beer. Oh well! It was tasty.
As for the food, I got a noodle bowl and was blown away! In my expeirence, the fast food in Yellowstone is just not very good. But here, I got to choose the meat, veggies, and two sauces, and my food was so delicious I was delighted! Would absolutely recommend eating here when in Yellowstone, and that’s not something I’ve said yet on the Virtual Yellowstone Road Trip.
Ice Creamery and Soda Fountain
The Ice Creamery is in the same building as the Canyon Eatery. It’s the same type of counter setup that I worked at up in Mammoth Village, so the flavor selection and brands they order are good.
However, I actually like the ice cream at the General Store better. Call me a traitor if you will.
I think they may also sell burgers? I’m not sure, so much has changed since the pandemic and the website versus my experience visiting in 2021 are a little incongruous.
M66, short for “Mission-66” is Canyon Village’s sit-down dining restaurant.
Like the rest of the park’s sit-down restaurants, the quality of the food seems to be pretty consistent. There’s also a lounge here where you can order a drink and sit in a comfy chair.
Washburn Lookout Lodge
The Washburn Lookout Lodge’s cafe area is more of a coffee bar than a restaurant option, but they do have a few grab-and-go lunch items.
This is the place if you’re craving the handcrafted latte comforts of home, though.
If you’re self catering, there are lots of picnic areas scattered near and around Canyon Village.
Otter Creek is 2.4 miles south of the village, Chittenden Bridge is 1.7 miles south and right by the Wapiti Lake trailhead, Cascade is 1 mile north, and Dunraven Road is 1.7 miles north.
Where to Stay in Canyon Village
Canyon Village is incredibly unique in that instead of one big hotel, there are a half dozen smaller hotels all scattered around the main lodging/food area. As a result, they’ve made it into a resort-type of layout with lots of patios, fire pits, and chairs to just relax and enjoy nature.
What I loved most about staying at the Hayden Lodge in Canyon was being able to sit outside and read in the evenings, then walking to one of the restaurants without ever feeling like I was “leaving Yellowstone” to do so. The forest is all around!
The Washburn Lodge is the ‘main’ hotel at Canyon Village because this is where you check into any of the other lodges and cabins. Unlike the other lodges, the Washburn Lodge has amenities like a snack and coffee bar, a front desk where you can book tours, and a roaring fireplace in the lobby.
Beyond that, the rooms themselves are pretty much the same across the lodges. Somthing that makes all of the Canyon Lodges different from the hotels in the rest of the park is that there are a ton of different room types to choose from.
Rhyolite Lodge, Cascade Lodge, Dunraven Lodge, Moran Lodge, and Hayden Lodge
These are the 5 “satellite lodges” in Canyon Village. While you have to Check in at Washburn Lodge, each lodge has a parking lot so you won’t have to worry about hiking to access it.
All of the lodges are connected by a nice set of walking paths, with campfires and benches scattered around. It’s a bit of a walk to the restaurants, but not a terrible one.
These lodges are the newest in the park, and it shows. Everything is so clean and pleasant. I really enjoyed reading outside on the grounds and then reading inside in the small but comfy lobby when it got too cold.
While not as extravagant as the Old Faithful Inn or Lake Hotel, I really enjoyed our stay at the Hayden Lodge. I would definitely consider staying again.
Also called the ‘Western Cabins’, these cabins have all the comforts of a hotel room except for TV, telephones, and air conditioning.
These area good option if you really want some peace and quiet.
Just a bit northeast of Canyon Village, there is also a campground, and it’s a big one. Covered by a Lodgepole Pine forest, it’s a nice place to camp near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Both RVs and tent campers can get spots here, although I don’t think there are RV utility hookups.