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Beartooth Falls – Cooke City/Yellowstone

Beartooth Scenic Highway


Large, powerful waterfall


Less than a mile

Elevation Gain/Loss

About 200 feet to the base of the falls

Time Required

1-2 Hours


Not recommend but they are allowed



Best Season

Late Spring to mid Summer

Sun Exposure

You will be mostly in shade

Trail Condition

Lightly traveled trail with some light rock scrambling and loose footing



Visitor Center






GPS Coordinates:

Trail Head:44.93872 N, 109.60056 W

Driving Directions

The Trail:

This waterfall technically is not in Yellowstone. It is located just outside the northeast entrance about an hour. Since it is so close and the vast majority of people will need to drive through Yellowstone to reach it I included it with the Yellowstone hikes. With that aside this is one of my all time favorite hikes in the Yellowstone area. When visited in late spring, through about August this is one of the most spectacular falls I have seen. The hike is still pretty in fall but the water drops off severely. Do NOT attempt this hike if there is still snow and ice on the ground. It would be too dangerous and risky of a fall. This is not a great one for kids because there are some (fairly easy for most) rock scrambles that are exposed and a child could easily fall into the water and be swept away. This is not an official advertised trail so it is unlikely that you will see others. The trailhead is the parking area on the south end of Beartooth Lake on the Beartooth Highway. Just before the parking area keep your eyes open for a view of the top part of the falls from the road. You can see a picture I took in early June compared with mid July. Snow stays late in this area. For many the road view will be enough but the short steep hike to the base is spectacular. This is a monster cascade that gets a lot of water.

From the parking area with the coordinates above you will cross the road to the east and the trail crosses a small meadow with wildflowers.

Once through the meadow you will see a trail heading into the large pines.

The trail will come to the bank of Beartooth Creek. From here its a short climb up the rocks to find the trail again.

The visible trail will soon end. From here you just keep heading towards the water. Once at the water start heading downstream where you will enjoy great views of the seemingly endless cascades.

Soon you will start to hear the roar of the main Beartooth Falls. The fall is a couple hundred feet with cascades but the main plunge is probably in the 50-60 foot range. I have not heard an official measurement. Be sure to stop at the brink before heading to the base.

I almost didn’t go to the base because I was hiking alone and my family was waiting in the car for me but I kept going and it was a great decision. The views from the base will stay with you for a long time. Photos and videos only do a little justice for the size and power of the falls. I stood mesmerized as I watched the display for about 15 minutes.

The Return:

Return to you car the same way you came. This will be by far the easiest route. The entire hike is probably less than a mile but I was not tracking.

Personal Thoughts:

I love this area. Beartooth Highway is one of my happy places and Beartooth Falls is my favorite part of the famous highway. Again, this is probably not a good hike for kids but is a must stop for those willing to take a short adventure. Be sure to wear good shoes! Enjoy this short Iphone Video of the Falls:


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Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

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About The Author
I love adventure! I live in Cache Valley, Utah. Do you have questions on any of my Treks? Email me @ joshua.oyler@gmail.com

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