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Hiking Fairy Falls


Fairy falls stands as one of Yellowstone’s tallest waterfalls at 197 feet. The sun blazed as we walked the gravel path to the trailhead. 

The path itself offered little resistance; a few small hills, logs crossing creeks, and dense forested areas were the only real obstacles standing between the falls and us. I would recommend this hike to any hiker regardless of skill level.

History: Way back in 1871, before any of us were even born, before computers took over the world, Members of the Hayden Survey discovered Fairy Falls. They named it for the clear quality of the water inside the falls, and the graceful decent of those waters.


Driving Directions: From Yellowstone’s West Entrance, drive 14 miles until you reach Madison Junction. Take a right at the junction, then drive south following the signs to Old Faithful. Parking will be on your right (W), about 6 miles north of Old Faithful. You can calculate turn-by-turn directions on Google maps here.



The Trail: Once parked, walk to the Fountain Freight Road Trail. You will see a sign exactly like the one below. (Unless of course someone stole it, or a bison got really hungry)

Fountain Freight Road Trail

From this trailhead, follow the trail for another mile to reach the Fairy Falls Trail. If you cross this bridge, then you know you’re on the right path.

Bridge Across Firehole River

At 1.0 miles, you will spot the start of the Fairy Falls Trail.

Fairy Falls Trailhead

Along the way, be sure to stop and enjoy the view of the Grand Prismatic Spring to the right of the trail. Situated inside the Midway Geyser Basin, this spring holds the record for the largest of it’s kind inside Yellowstone at 370 feet in diameter and 121 feet deep. It also holds the record for being one of the first features recorded in the park. The pictures below explain why. I didn’t walk all the way up to the spring, (I definitely should have) but even from a distance the water reflects the clouds and everything else in the area.

Midway Geyser Spring Area

At 2.6 miles, you will hit Fairy Falls. The trail takes you through forest densely populated by lodgepole pine trees. Fallen trees show evidence of the 1988 forest fire that burned much of area. Despite the charred look, the forest continues to regenerate from the ashes. The fire created new space for plants and animals to come where before an aging canopy blocked growth on the forest floor. Posted below is a view of the falls.

Fairy Falls

Even after the somewhat long trail, I still give this one an easy rating. The path is virtually flat, with the number of hills adding up to less than what I can count on one hand (And yes…I can count). The first mile is accessible to bikes, which gives you a better idea about how flat this trail truly is. I would still recommend it for the scenery.

Fairy Falls Trail Map
View Larger Map

Labels: Guides

Additional Resources:
Everytrail.com
Yellowstone Trail Guides
NPS Day Hikes

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