By Michael Lanza

On a bluebird autumn morning, I followed the North Rim Trail along the top of crumbling cliffs of golden rock dropping nearly a thousand feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, in Yellowstone National Park. I turned onto the Brink of Lower Falls Trail and marched 600 feet downhill in a half-mile, through too many switchbacks to count, to a platform erected right at the spot where the Yellowstone River launches itself violently over 308-foot Lower Yellowstone Falls. With spray from the waterfall raining lightly on me and the sunlight slashing through the mist forming a rainbow below, I got this photo looking over the lip of the falls and down the canyon.

Autumn is a glorious time of year in Yellowstone: There are far fewer tourists than at the height of summer, the weather is pleasant for hiking, and wildlife are active. Over just parts of two days on my brief visit this fall, I saw three black bears, including a mom with cub in tow, scores of bison, and herds of elk—and I heard an elk bugling. I also caught sunrise at Mammoth Hot Springs and sunset on Mount Washburn, and dayhiked into the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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I’ll write more about hiking in Yellowstone in autumn later at The Big Outside. Meanwhile, see all of my stories about Yellowstone National Park, including my video of finding myself stuck in a “bison jam” on that same recent visit; “Ask Me: The Ultimate Family Tour of Yellowstone,” “Ask Me: The 8 Best Short Hikes in Yellowstone,” “Ask Me: Which Multi-Day Wilderness Trip Should We Take in Yellowstone?“, plus my story about an under-appreciated season in our first national park, “Cross-Country Skiing Yellowstone.” And see all of my stories about national park adventures at The Big Outside.

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