The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Out and Back

8 Hours


If you want to see a hidden waterfall, walk around a remote lake, spot antlers and bones, cross a suspension bridge, and enjoy the beauty of the Yellowstone River, you’ll want to book this tour. We may even see bison, elk, deer, pronghorn and bears! This is a classic, yet lesser-known adventure in the Northern Range, giving you a chance to see wildlife and a gorgeous stretch of the Yellowstone River.

Starting at the Blacktail Deer Creek Trailhead, seven miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs on Grand Loop Road, the trail climbs a small hill before dropping down to the Yellowstone River. Losing roughly 1,500ft in elevation to get to the river, which will have to hike up on the way back, the trail skirts Blacktail Deer Creek, giving plenty of opportunities to see wildlife of all sizes.

Once we reach the river, we will take a look at a spot where the floods of 2022 washed away a patrol cabin, have a bite to eat, and then cross the suspension bridge to head toward Crevice Lake and Knowles Falls. Once atop the falls, we will have a chance to wander a little more down the trail to take in more of the canyon views and the rocks that give the trail its name. Currently, the hike stops just beyond Knowles Falls due to a washout of the trail from the June 2022 floods. If/when the trail is expanded, options for a longer hike will be offered.

After enjoying the river for a bit, we will begin the hike out of the canyon, back up the creek, through the prairie, and end at the parking area where we started.

The mileage on this trail will be around 12 miles with a little less than 2,000 feet of elevation gain total.


Trek Overview

Hiking toward the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone is an experience that those in the know do as an annual adventure. Showcasing the remote beauty found along the Yellowstone River, this trail is one where you’ll wish you could spend more time wandering. Highlighted by the suspension bridge over the Yellowstone, Knowles Falls, Crevice Lake, and glimpses into the rocky and wild canyon, a hiking tour here will surely give a greater appreciation for the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park.

Along this hike, you’ll go down to the river along a well-maintained scenic trail, reaching the river after 3.8 miles. From the bridge, the lake is a half mile away and the falls are a mile and a half beyond that. With bones of bison and elk scattered about, as well as the occasional elk antler, there will be plenty to see as we hike.

Once we reach the falls, groups making good time with lots of energy left will have a chance to continue on to see into the canyon, possibly a mile and a half downriver. The trail beyond this point is closed due to the June 2022 floods.

To reach Knowles Falls and back, the mileage will be around 12 miles total, with a little less than 2,000 feet of elevation. It is important to note that almost all the elevation gain will be on the return trip.

The Highlights

  • A lesser-known waterfall
  • Potential wildlife sightings
  • Bones and antlers
  • A suspension bridge
  • River views
  • A remote lake
  • Flood damage from June 2022

The Hike Itinerary

Day 1:

We will meet at the parking area at our designated start time, where we will have a quick meeting about safety and a gear check. Once that has been completed and we are ready to go, we will begin the hike by heading up a small hill. The hill is less than 200 feet high and once on top of it, offers great views of the region to the north, east and south. It isn’t uncommon to have bison near the trail, so there may be some off trail hiking to get around the herd, if needed. After taking in the views, we will begin to hike down toward the Yellowstone River.

Over the next three miles, we will continue to drop in elevation as we hike along Blacktail Deer Creek. This section is a good spot to see wildlife, with bison and elk frequenting the area. Bears are also known to be around, which is why we will all have a canister of bear spray with us. Once we reach the river, we will head down a side trail to the site that an old patrol cabin used to sit. The floods of 2022 washed the cabin away, but the area nearby makes for a great spot to take a short break.

After the break, we will cross the suspension bridge and reach Crevice Lake, a half mile away. After taking a good view of the hidden lake, we hike on, following the river toward Knowles Falls, a mile and a half beyond the lake. If time allows and everyone feels good, we may continue hiking down river to the closure of trail, up to a mile and a half downriver from the falls. The 2022 floods damaged the trail along the river, but the views from the route to the closure are still great.

Once done, we will hike back to the car, crossing the bridge and climbing up the sometimes steep and unbeaten trail. The hike out is always more tiring than one expects, which is why we will take our, scan for wildlife and remember to enjoy the backcountry of Yellowstone.

What You Get/Don't Get


  • Bear spray, access to gallons of water before the hike, use of binoculars, an expert guide, wildlife tips, trekking poles (if requested in advance), a few prepackaged snacks (jerky, nuts, etc...)


  • Hiking shoes, backpacks, water bladders/water bottles, meals

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

The Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Out and Back
From $ 250
/ Adult
From $ 75
/ Child