Searching for breathtaking waterfall views in one of the most stunning National Parks in the United States? Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park is appealing for many different reasons, and it delivers on impressive and beautiful views! Learn what to expect from a visit to Gibbon Falls and the Gibbon Falls Trail!
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Table of Contents
Guide to Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park
Gibbon Falls is a favorite amongst visitors to Yellowstone National Park, and is a highlight of any Yellowstone itinerary from the west entrance. This guide to Gibbon Falls includes the following:
- What to Know Before You Go
- Helpful Distances
- Background on Gibbon Falls
- Guide to Visiting Gibbon Falls
- Gibbon Falls Trail
- Little Gibbon Falls Trail
- Other Nearby Attractions
What to Know Before You Go to Gibbon Falls
Location: Yellowstone National Park (west entrance) – Google Map link
Directions: take Grand Loop Road (Highway 89) approximately 30 minutes from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, to the pulloff for Gibbon Falls located on the right side of the road
Entrance Fees to Yellowstone National Park: $35 per vehicle, good for 7 consecutive days
Closest Towns/Cities: West Yellowstone, Montana
Best Time of Year to Visit: Spring – Summer (Grand Loop Road / Highway 89 is closed from December – April)
Pet Policy: pets are NOT allowed at Gibbon Falls or on the Gibbon Falls Trail
Below are some helpful distances between common spots and Gibbon Falls.
- West Entrance to Gibbon Falls: 30 minutes
- Norris Geyser Basin to Gibbon Falls: 15 minutes
- Artist Paint Pots Trail to Gibbon Falls: 10 minutes
- Fountain Paint Pot Trail to Gibbon Falls: 20 minutes
- Midway Geyser / Grand Prismatic Springs to Gibbon Falls: 25 minutes
- Old Faithful to Gibbon Falls: 35 minutes
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to Gibbon Falls: 35 minutes
- Little Gibbon Falls Trail to Gibbon Falls: 20 minutes
NOTE: estimated times may vary significantly based on traffic! Give plenty of extra time if visiting Gibbon Falls during peak season and peak times of day! Arrive early for a better chance at securing a parking spot without having to wait.
Background on Gibbon Falls
Like much of Yellowstone National Park, Gibbon Falls is evidence of ancient volcanic eruptions, as the waterfall you witness today cascades over the volcanic caldera rim. The aftermath of Gibbon Falls continues gracefully on its course on the Gibbon River, through chiseled canyon walls towards the pastures and meadows of Yellowstone National Park in the distance.
Though it isn’t the largest waterfall in Yellowstone National Park (that title goes to the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone), this 84 foot fall remains an undoubtedly impressive highlight for its easier accessibility (no technical or difficult hiking required), central location (located immediately roadside off of Grand Loop Road / Highway 89 ), photographic backdrop, and humble and simple gracefulness that provide stunning and breathtaking views!
Visiting Gibbon Falls and the Gibbon Falls Trail
Quick Facts on Gibbon Falls Trail:
Length of Gibbon Falls Trail: 0.5 miles roundtrip point to point
Difficulty: Easy – short, mostly flat, elevation gain of only 55 feet, and paved
Estimated Time to Complete: 10 – 15 minutes
Parking: there is a roadside parking lot for Gibbon Falls, but it fills up quickly during peak season
Facilities: there are bathroom facilities at Gibbon Falls
While not technically a hiking trail to most, there is a paved walking path that parallels the Gibbon River, with plenty of unobstructed views over Gibbon Falls, as you can see from the graphic below.
This walking path is 0.5 miles in length roundtrip, a perfect distance to stretch your legs, and soak up plenty of panoramic views of Gibbon Falls, the Gibbon River, the rugged canyon walls, and the peaceful meadows of Yellowstone National Park in the distance, fed by the Gibbon River!
Insider Tip: the walking path starts immediately from the parking lot area, but the best views of Gibbon Falls are arguably a little further down the path, and there are generally less crowds vying for a lookout spot too! So don’t be afraid to walk a little further down the trail!
Little Gibbon Falls
If you are itching for a more traditional hiking trail to appreciate Gibbon Falls, then check out the Little Gibbon Falls Trail, the mini version of Gibbon Falls! It is located just up the Grand Loop Road.
Quick Facts on the Little Gibbon Falls Trail:
Length: 3.9 miles roundtrip loop
Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 249 feet
The Little Gibbon Falls Trail contains, as you might guess, a smaller version of the Gibbon Falls, which provides hikers a chance to partake in a more immersive waterfall hike experience.
In addition to Little Gibbon Falls, this trail also parallels the shoreline of Ice Lake! Note that if the entire trail is completed, you will encounter several stream crossings, with logs in place to help.
Other Nearby Attractions to Gibbon Falls
Since Gibbon Falls will only take a small amount of your day timewise, it only makes sense to get the most out of your visit by including some (or all) of these additional attractions below, all located within Yellowstone National Park, and all best accessed by the park’s west entrance.
Norris Geyser Basin
Though not the most popular or most regular geyser, the Norris Geyser Basin is home to the actual tallest geyser in the park, Steamboat Geyser, which can be found along the boardwalk trail of the Norris Geyser Basin.
In addition to the Steamboat Geyser, the Norris Geyser Basin is home to a stunning amount of natural wonders, including paint pots, multi-colored pools and streams, steam vents, and of course, more geysers. There is literally a surprise around every bend in Norris Geyser Basin.
The Norris Geyser Basin and Norris Geyser Basin boardwalk trail are located approximately 15 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Artists Paint Pots Trail
A chance to witness the geological wonder that is gurgling, muddy paint pots on this short boardwalk trail. Plus, it offers stunning panoramas over much of Yellowstone National Park in the distance. You can see many more jets of steam rising through the blanket of forest on the horizon from this vantage point.
The Artists Paint Pot Trail is located approximately 10 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Purple Mountain Trail
An uphill mountain trek to stunning views! With all the geothermal activity, mix it up a little with a good old mountain hike.
The Purple Mountain Trail is located approximately 10 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Harlequin Lake Trail
A peaceful and low trafficked hike to a serene mountain lake. Harlequin Lake doesn’t get a lot of attention, but that can be a good thing. I personally love to visit Harlequin Lake near the end of the day, when I have experienced having this whole trail to myself. After the busy-ness and crowds of some of the more popular locations in Yellowstone, this isolated spot is a way to catch my breath and really appreciate some hidden, calm spots in Yellowstone.
The Harlequin Lake Trail is located approximately 10 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Insider Tip: there is no parking directly at the trailhead. Park across the street in the lot next to the river, and walk across to the trailhead.
Fountain Paint Pot Trail
Another chance to see paint pots in action! This is another boardwalk trail, with geysers, including the Red Spouter, colorful pools, steam vents, and of course, paint pots!
The Fountain Paint Pot Trail is located approximately 20 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Midway Geyser and Grand Prismatic Springs
One of the most iconic, and most vibrantly colorful, spots in all of Yellowstone National Park! Enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk and soak in the colors.
Midway Geyser and Grand Prismatic Springs are located approximately 25 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
No visit to Yellowstone National Park would be complete without a stop at this iconic geyser. Be sure to time your visit to catch an eruption, as well as stop by the historic Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful is located approximately 35 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
If you want to witness Yellowstone’s tallest waterfall, the place to be is the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There are various trails and overlooks located in this region of the park, all highlighting the 308 foot falls of the Yellowstone River!
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is located approximately 35 minutes from Gibbon Falls.
Fairy Falls and Mystic Falls
More enchantingly named waterfall hikes close by to Gibbon Falls!
Explore all of these attractions plus Gibbon Falls on this perfect 3 day Yellowstone itinerary!
RELATED: Check out some of my other favorite waterfall hikes!
- The Best Waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- The Charons Garden Hike in the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma
- Ribbon Falls on the Rim to Rim Hike in Grand Canyon National Park
- The Dark Hollow Falls Trail in Shenandoah National Park
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