From our new series of Places to See while at the ranch, here is another fantastic option: Upper and Lower Falls, Yellowstone. One of the lesser-known marvels of both Yellowstone and natural attractions anywhere in the world, it is located within a couple hours’ drive of the ranch.

As the Yellowstone River meanders through Yellowstone National Park, it runs through a large canyon, dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and spills over two falls, one of which was described by N.P. Langford of the 1870 expeditionary Washburn party as follows: “A grander scene than the lower cataract of the Yellowstone was never witnessed by mortal eyes.” This ringing endorsement from someone who had already seen a lot of scenic beauty in the undeveloped West is one that holds true today.

About 640,000 years ago, a huge volcanic eruption occurred in Yellowstone, emptying a large underground chamber of magma (partially molten rock), and volcanic ash. The roof of the chamber slowly collapsed, forming a giant caldera 30 miles across and 45 miles long. The caldera began to fill with lava and sediments, which continued for several hundred thousand years.

Scientists think the oldest Grand Canyon of Yellowstone formed around 150,000 years ago. This paleocanyon was not as deep, wide, or long as the canyon visible today. However, the Yellowstone River eroded the rocks that were weakened by ongoing hydrothermal activity, causing the deepening and widening of the canyon.

The Lower Falls may have formed because the river flows over volcanic rock more resistant to erosion than the downstream rocks. The Upper Falls flows over similar rocks, which are remnants of a lava flow resistant to erosion. The multi-hued rocks of the canyon result from the hydrothermally altered rhyolite and sediments. Dark orange, brown, and green areas near the river indicate still-active hydrothermal features, all of which continue to sculpt the canyon.

Here are a few hikes recommended to view each of these two falls.

Lower Falls

At 308 feet, the Lower Falls is the tallest waterfall in Yellowstone. It’s more than double the height of Niagara Falls, and the rate of flow runs anywhere from 63,500 gallons per second in the spring runoff season, down to 5,000 gallons per second in the dry fall season. While obviously the peak flow time will be more majestic, the warmer, drier seasons of late summer and fall tend to be preferable to visiting the park.


South Rim
Uncle Tom’s Trail
Rating: Strenuous
Elevation change: 500 feet

This trail predominantly consists of more than 300 steps, surrounded by paved declines, which lead about 500 feet down into the canyon. Said to be an “unparalleled canyon and waterfall experience,” the trail’s destination is a platform from which visitors can see, hear, and feel the power of the Lower Falls.

To access: Take South Rim Drive to Uncle Tom’s Point, which is near the intersection of the Clear Lake Trail. The hike is .7 miles round trip.

Some notes about the trail: Uncle Tom’s Trail is considered strenuous and not recommended for people with heart, lung, or other health conditions. Much of the walk is constructed of perforated steel sheeting, so hikers should wear comfortable, flat-heeled walking shoes. Ice may be present in early morning of the spring or fall. The trail is closed in winter and subject to close in spring and fall due to poor conditions.

Artist Point
Rating: Easy
Elevation change: 50 feet

Called Artist Point because of its stunning, often-photographed vista of the Yellowstone River’s descent starting at Lower Falls, which is framed by the multi-hue variations of the canyon walls, with a sprinkling of forest mixed in. The short hike to the viewing platform has an elevation gain of about 50 feet, and allows glimpses of the falls. At the viewing platform, visitors are able to step onto the promontory and be rewarded with the panoramic view. This is a great place for a family photo, and the lower outlook is accessible to wheelchairs.

To access: start at the large parking area at the east end of South Rim Drive and hike down the wide paved trail continuing beyond the road’s end. The round trip hike is.2 miles.

North Rim
Brink of Lower Falls Trail
Rating: Easy (top of trailhead viewpoint) or Difficult (bottom of trail)
Elevation change: 20 (upper) – 600 feet (lower)

A distant view of the Lower Falls can be seen from some overlooks adjacent to the parking lot. However, the Brink of Lower Falls Trail switchbacks steeply down a forested section of the Canyon to an observation platform at the top of Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. Hikers can view the powerful waterfall plunging into the heart of the Canyon. Although somewhat difficult, many hikers believe this destination to be the best view of the falls.

To access: take the Grand Loop to North Rim Drive and follow to the south end of the road to find Brink of Lower Falls parking lot and trailhead. The hike is .4 miles round trip.

About the trail: the lower part of the trail is not recommended for those with heart, lung, or other health conditions. It contains steep drop-offs that are extremely dangerous for children. The trail is closed in winter.

Lookout Point
Rating: Easy
Elevation change: 25 feet

View the canyon from several paved overlooks adjacent to the parking lot. For a full view of Lower Falls, follow the trail that begins at the Lookout Point signs, bearing left at the fork.

To access: from the Grand Loop, take North Rim Drive and enter the second parking lot which serves both Lookout Point and Red Rock Point. The minimum distance to Lookout Point is .15 miles round trip.

Red Rock Point
Rating: Strenuous
Elevation change: 490 feet

This trail dips partway into the Canyon where Lower Falls roars close by and provides a very dramatic viewing experience. It’s fairly strenuous and includes a lot of stairs. It starts at Lookout Point, where you can see the red rock for which the trail is named, along with the stair section far below.

To access: from the Grand Loop, take North Rim Drive and enter the second parking lot which serves both Lookout Point and Red Rock Point. The hike is 1 mile, round trip.

About the trail: the trail is not recommended for those with heart, lung, or other health conditions.

Upper Falls

Although the Upper Falls is significantly smaller than the Lower Falls, it drops 109 ft over a lip of volcanic rock and is a very powerful and majestic sight.

South Rim
Upper Falls Viewpoint
Rating: Easy
Elevation change: 75 feet

This short walk from the South Rim Trail takes hikers to two viewpoints of the Upper Falls without as many dangerous drop-offs at the North Rim Trail. Upstream of the waterfall, visitors can see the old Canyon Bridge, which today is part of the North Rim Trail. From the overlook on the left of the falls, look downstream to glimpse Crystal Falls on the opposite side of the Canyon.

To access: Take South Rim Drive to Uncle Tom’s Point, which is near the intersection of the Clear Lake Trail. (See map below for details.) The hike is .25 miles round trip.

Some notes about the trail: Uncle Tom’s Trail is considered strenuous and not recommended for people with heart, lung, or other health conditions. Much of the walk is constructed of perforated steel sheeting, so hikers should wear comfortable, flat-heeled walking shoes. Ice may be present in early morning of the spring or fall. The trail is closed in winter and subject to close in spring and fall due to poor conditions.

North Rim
Brink of Upper Falls
Rating: Easy
Elevation change: 75 feet

This dramatic viewpoint can be reached fairly easily. As you walk toward the overlook, listen for the rush of water from the falls. Then proceed down the steps and around the corner to view the colliding current pouring over the brink. Walk right up to the edge of the dramatic tumbler and stare down the thundering 109 feet of water. You may see rainbows in the afternoon.

For a wheelchair accessible view, bear right before the stairs and continue a short distance on the paved surface (also part of the North Rim Trail).

To access: take the Grand Loop Road to North Rim Drive. The first parking lot provides access to Brink of Lower Falls. From the parking lot, it is a .25 mile round trip to the viewing platform.

Some notes about the trail: Trails can be icy or snow-covered in cold weather and may be closed in winter.

We hope you enjoy your adventuring while at Turpin Meadow Ranch! As always, ask our staff for any suggestions or advice, and let us know (in person, on social media, or via email) how your trip worked out!

More about planning your trip in Yellowstone

It’s fair to say it would be hard to run out of places to see while visiting the ranch. Given the large variety of options, we’re launching a new series called “Places to See,” a collection of favorite spots and local attractions to consider adding to your list of area activities.

Yellowstone alone is home to approximately 10,000 features. The Fountain Group is a cluster of mud pots and several spectacular geysers in the lower basin area of Yellowstone Park. Located about 10 miles north of Old Faithful on the west side of the Madison-Old Faithful section of the Grand Loop Road, Fountain Flats Drive is an old, two-way freight road within the Fountain Group area that runs behind the Lower and Midway Geyser Basins, and provides easy to moderate access to many sights in the area, including springs, falls, fumaroles sinter formations, and a bit of national parks history.

Sentinel Meadows Trail
After about three miles, Fountain Flats Drive ends at a parking lot located adjacent to the Sentinel Meadows Trail, a roughly four-mile, moderately-rated hiking and biking loop which crosses over the Firehole River and services the Sentinel Meadows Group on Sentinel Creek, connecting with trails to the south. The Sentinel Meadows Trail starts with Ojo Caliente, a large and violently boiling hot springs located just across the Firehole River bridge. The trail also passes a geyser, nearby mudpots, and three sinter formations—Flat Cone, The Bulges, and Steep Cone Springs, which are strung through the meadow, as well as a bison dust pit, and a large variety of fumaroles, hot springs, and mudpots.

Queen’s Laundry
The most famous landmark on the Sentinel Meadows Trail is Queen’s Laundry, also called Red Terrace Spring, in reference to the red-hued cyanobacteria terraces. Queen’s Laundry is located about 1.9 miles west of Fountain Flats Drive on the Sentinel Meadows Trail. It can be difficult to locate, but will be recognizable by the white sinter-soil characteristic of Yellowstone hot springs next to the reddish muddy banks of the springs, and eerie skeletons of trees bleached white by the heat and chemicals of the water and steam from the springs.

In 1881, while Yellowstone was being developed for tourists, the second superintendent of the park, Philetus W. Norris, was constructing Fountain Flats Drive and noticed steam rising along Sentinel Creek. The construction crew discovered the large hot springs pool, and at the time, it either had a drainage channel or the water was siphoned into a tub, making it cool enough for bathing (and washing laundry). Dubbed Queen’s Laundry, Norris anticipated that a springs spa would be an attraction for visitors, and constructed a two-room bath house with a sod roof. When Norris left the following year, the structure was never completed. Although a subject of some controversy, the Queen’s Laundry Bathhouse was eventually inducted into the National Register of Historic Places and remains the oldest federally financed structure in Yellowstone and the first built for government use in any national park.

As always, when exploring any natural area, it is recommended that visitors stay on established paths. When visiting Yellowstone hot springs such as Queen’s Laundry, which is a lesser-traveled side route of the Sentinel Meadows Trail, it is critical to remain alert and stay away from the springs, which are deadly hot and surrounded by thin layers of soil which may break underfoot.

Imperial Geyser & Fairy Falls
This easy five-mile trail loop is south of Sentinel Meadows and accessible either by the junction at the south end of Sentinel Meadows Trail, or from the new trail starting at the parking lot one mile south of the Midway Geyser Basin.

Located in the east area of the loop, the Imperial Geyser has frequent minor eruptions. Just 1/8 mile east along the Imperial’s largest runoff is the Spray Geyser, which erupts more frequently.

A little south of the Imperial Geyser is Fairy Falls, one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls, with a 200-foot high drop of Fairy Creek over the Madison Plateau.

Some notes about these excursions:
This is a Bear Management Area and open only during summer.
Areas of the trail might be wet; consider when selecting footwear.
Trails subject to insects, including horse flies; bring repellent.

The area around the ranch is some of the most beautiful in the world, and a visit to the ranch would not be complete without wandering the landscape, whether ambling via trail, scrabbling up a hill, or meandering through a verdant meadow. However, even when exploring by day, there are many items we strongly encourage bringing on your journeys.

Recommended items:

  • Daypack or rucksack to comfortably carry your gear
  • Water or microfiltration system
  • Hat with brim – preferably with wide brim, but a ball cap will do
  • Sunscreen – remember at higher altitudes, skin burns much more quickly!
  • Sunglasses with UV blocking, even during winter weather (to protect against snow blindness)
  • Snacks, such as high-energy trail mix, granola bars, jerky or dried fruit
  • Insect repellent: use a product that repels deer flies and ticks
  • Bear spray – a must have for all area backcountry hikers. View the Yellowstone page on bear encounters for additional details
  • Pocket knife, preferably with a blade of 3 – 5 inches
  • Whistle and/or signaling mirror
  • Basic first aid kit (tailored for the length of your trip and size of your group)
  • Map & compass (your mobile phone may not receive reception in all wilderness areas)
  • Orienteering instruction, so you can safely navigate
  • Extra clothing, based on anticipated weather, including: flannel shirt or sweatshirt, jacket, rain gear
  • Sturdy hiking boots, preferably waterproof
  • Toilet paper and/or tissues
  • Matches and/or lighter (please check with us at the ranch or ask a park ranger about fire restrictions in the area you plan on visiting)

Optional items:

Here are a few extra items that may not be necessary, but are handy to have while hiking around the area:

  • Handheld GPS: unlike a mobile phone, when set up properly a handheld GPS device can provide very accurate information about speed, elevation, location, direction of travel, and much more, regardless of cell signal strength. However, since electronic devices may malfunction, a map and compass should always be carried.
  • Sandals: during summer months, a pair of good water sandals is recommended for crossing water, which can reduce chance of blistering from hiking wet boots if your footwear is not waterproof, and provides better traction than crossing in bare feet.
  • Multi-tool: if your pocket knife also has scissors, a screwdriver, tweezers, and other handy tools, it will most likely be to your benefit!
  • Bandana or kerchief: multi-use item that can be used as sun protection, to absorb moisture, clean or dry items, protect from dust or other inhalants, etc.
  • There is a reason they are part of a cowboy’s uniform!
  • Lip balm with sunscreen: helps prevent chapping and sunburn.
  • Extra socks: especially if you don’t bring sandals, but also can be helpful to bring a thinner or thicker pair in case your original pair is not adequate for the journey.
  • Headlamp: if your day hike takes longer than expected, you will be glad to have a way to light your path while keeping your hands free. LED versions tend to have much longer battery life.
  • Thermal space blanket or bivy: this item can keep you warm and dry, is lightweight and compact enough to carry even in a daypack.
  • Trekking poles: great for adding extra stability, especially when travelling over rough terrain or water. If you are carrying a heavy pack they are particularly helpful.

Please don’t forget to plan on carrying out anything you bring, including food waste. Help us keep our environment clean for future visitors. Learn more about Leave No Trace.

We hope you enjoy your stay while in the amazing Tetons. Please let us know if you have questions, would like trail or scenery recommendations, or need anything at all! You can also visit our Adventures page for information about our guides, tours, and activities.

You would be surprised the way the night sky glows when you get away from the ambient light of the city. At the ranch, enjoying the night beauty above us is easy and the constellations that you can see from the ranch grounds are vast. We’re nearby one of the largest road-free areas in the lower 48 states, which means our dark sky location is a prime star gazing territory. Wondering what the night sky looks like tonight? Try out one of these apps to explore the night sky:

    1. Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy
    2. Star Tracker Lite- Night Sky Map for Star Gazing
    3. Star Chart

If you are interested in what’s happening in the sky this evening, visit our lodge and chat with our staff who can recommend some great places to go and star gaze at the ranch an the surrounding wilderness.

Jackson Hole is a hub for some of the finest dining in the West. Featuring hole-in-the-wall delectable eateries, five-star fine dining, and bottomless brunches – choosing a great place to grab a bite to eat is like choosing your favorite child, it’s downright hard. To make your dining choices a little easier, here is a list of some of the best eateries in Jackson Hole that you need to grab a bite at while you are in town:

1. Gather
A great place to stop by for some family-friendly dining or a quick bite, Gather offers weekly happy hour specials, hors d’oeuvre, and a spectacular menu that features a variety of vegetables, roots and the finest meats from local farms and butchers.

2. The Kitchen
With a vision of something different, the Kitchen delivers a dining experience unlike any other in Jackson Hole. The interior has an elegant design that creates remarkable ambiance that can only be rivaled by the serene seafood menu itself. Featuring exquisite seafood delicacies like Ahi Tuna, tempura shrimp, Artcic Char and seared scallops, The Kitchen is an excellent place to enjoy the best seafood in the west, in a refined restaurant setting.

3. The Bistro
A favorite among locals and visitors alike, Rendezvous is considered one of the culinary staples of Jackson Hole. Opened in 2001, this bistro has reimagined the traditional French and American dinner experience, providing a family dining experience with friendly staff and best-in-class eats.

4. Picnic
For the brunch-aholics out there, this is the place for you. Jackson Hole is a place where you must get outside to witness all of Wyoming’s natural beauty, so Picnic prepares excellent on the go treats and lunches for those who just can’t wait to get out and enjoy the wild. Offering fresh salads and homemade pastries Picnic is the perfect nook for those in need of a brief midday munch to refuel before adventuring around Jackson Hole.

5. The Lodge at Turpin Meadow Ranch
Located on the Turpin Meadow Ranch grounds, our lodge offers guests a truly western taste of Wyoming. With a rustic, welcoming atmosphere the lodge invites guests in to enjoy pasture-to-plate meals fresh from the ranch grounds. The menu pays homage to local farmers, foragers and ranchers that share the ranch’s vision of quality Western style that embodies the ranch.

Jackson Hole is ripe with excellent places to eat. If you are looking to find the perfect restaurant to satisfy your hunger, visit the lodge and ask our knowledgeable staff about your endless options in Jackson Hole.

As you walk through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, you’ll have your breath taken away by natural beauty at every turn. With sights that will inspire and majestic wildlife that can only be seen in America’s heartland, our National Parks command respect for the natural world and its power. But keeping these American crown jewels in pristine condition is no small task. It requires that every visitor be involved and aware to make sure that the parks stay beautiful for another 100 years.

Here are a few simple ways that you can help preserve Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and while enjoying all they have to offer:

1. Stay On Marked Paths
Although many of the sights that you see in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are awe-inspiring, they are best observed from a safe distance. Not only will staying on marked paths ensure that you are safe, but you’ll also help preserve the hundreds of sensitive wildlife species that live in the area and plant species that grow just off of the path.

2. Do NOT Feed The Locals
The furry locals of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons have been thriving for 100s of years, long before humans came into the picture. Feeding wild animals has both negative physical and social impacts on these Yellowstone and Grand Teton locals. Their diet is vastly different from ours and feeding them can cause serious health issues, as they forget how to forage on their own as animals normally do. Prolonged interaction with people can make these animals reliant on humans for food. This means that many times they will approach other humans who may not be as kind in their intentions as you are. So please, keep the granola bars and potato chips to yourself.

3. Pack It In, Pack It Out
Everything that you bring into the parks should either leave with you, or be disposed of in a marked trash bin. In the National Parks, trash and recycling cans are limited to preserve the surrounding natural beauty as well as to keep the locals from feasting on what humans leave behind. Trash also decomposes slowly and can harm plants and small animals.

4. Take Pictures Not Souvenirs
Pictures last forever, whether you take them on your camera or smartphone. You can even share them with your friends and family quickly and easily. But if you take something from the park, others will not be able to enjoy the beautiful item that you enjoyed so much. Much of the natural beauty in the parks has taken thousands of years to form, and every stone has a key role in the history of the National Parks. Please leave rocks, bones, plants and other items as they are to be viewed and enjoyed by other park visitors.

5. Admire Wildlife from Afar
One of the major attractions at National Parks is wildlife viewing where an abundance of animals calls this place their home. They can be unpredictable, especially if they feel threatened by strangers in their space or certain times of the year, such as Spring, when their aggressiveness heightens as mothers protect their young. Keep a safe distance by using binoculars or telephoto lenses. Also, keep in mind it is prohibited to approach bears and wolves within 100 yards and 25 yards for other wildlife like bison and elk.

Informed and engaged visitors help National Parks continue to be a spectacular place to visit. If you would like to learn more about where to explore in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, visit the National Park Service website and our activities page to see more information on our guided Yellowstone and Grand Teton tours.

Part of what makes a visit to the ranch such an amazing destination is its location in the Bridger-Teton Wilderness, a haven for Wyoming’s abundant wildlife. Here guests can find a number of furry locals, some of whom are best known for their horns. Keep reading to test your knowledge of the mammals who call the ecosystem around Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park home. You can learn more about the wildlife that surrounds the ranch here.

1. What Mammal is this?

2. Which animal does this antler belong to?

3. Can you guess whose horns these are?

Check out the answers below!

1: Big Horn Sheep

2: Moose

3: Pronghorn

Wyoming is known for its wildlife, natural beauty and winter sports, but there is so much more to this Western Wonderland. In Jackson Hole, Wyo., it is easy to get out and enjoy the natural beauty that the Tetons prairies have to offer, but there are some things that you simply cannot find anywhere else. You do not want to miss out on these unforgettable Jackson Hole experiences.

The Jackson Hole Shootout

One of the must-dos in Jackson Hole happens every Sunday at 6:00 p.m. during the summer. This chaotic affair puts you right in the middle of an old western shootout (minus the bullets of course). A tradition since 1957, the shootout is one of the best ways to experience the Western history of Jackson Hole.

The Jackson Hole Rodeo

What’s a stay at a dude ranch without a visit to the rodeo? Who can hang on the longest?  You’ll have to come and find out yourself as this 120-year-old rodeo in downtown Jackson Hole where families and cowboys alike can come and enjoy one of the West’s oldest past times. You can catch bull riders, bucking broncos, barrel racing and roping. The rodeo runs several days a week throughout Summer. It starts at 8 p.m but the crowd starts showing up at 7:15 p.m. so we recommend you arrive early to get the best seats. Check out the full rodeo schedule.

Yeehaw! Looks like a good time, at least from the stands.

National Elk Refuge

These locals have roamed the Teton Mountains for many years, and they are here to stay. Whether on a guided tour or simply admiring from your car, you can see these majestic creatures during most winter months. Not to mention, the refuge is free for adventurers of all ages. In the summer, a lot more wildlife than just elk hang out at the refuge – Bald Eagles, trumpeter swans, bison and gray wolves can also be seen. In the winter the refuge offers horse-drawn sleigh rides daily that will delight visitors of any age.

Did you know that Turpin Meadow Ranch features an Olympian-designed Nordic ski track that stretches over 20km? The trails are popular with locals, who often stop by for an afternoon of skiing and stay into the evening for world-class dining and cocktails at the newly renovated historic lodge.

Designed by two former Olympic Nordic and Biathlon skiers, Hans and Nancy Johnstone, the ranch’s Nordic ski track expands across seven connected loops that show you different perspectives of the Grand Tetons and local landscape. The Johnstones are Jackson Hole locals and have experienced the thrill of many first ski descents in the Grand Tetons. The trails are described by one visitor as “a well-groomed trail system with trails for any level of cross country skier. A great way to spend a day in a remote corner of the Tetons.”

Even better – there are 10 other tracks minutes away where locals go to explore the refreshing winter wilderness of Jackson Hole. Ranging in length from five miles to 14, it is easy to hit the trails and get a taste of what it means to be a true Jackson Hole local.