Short trails at Tower Fall

An easy, paved walkway (about 0.3 mi/0.5km round trip) takes you out to a platform at the canyon edge, where there’s a fine view of Tower Fall and an interpretive sign about its hanging valley. The trail down to the base of Tower Fall and into the canyon to the junction of Tower Creek and the Yellowstone River is dicult to maintain. In fact, the trail in both directions along the Yellowstone River had to be closed in 2004 due to major washouts. Tower Fall on Tower Creek Tower Fall is the only waterfall in the park ocially called fall❠rather than falls.❠Maybe this is because of its one clean drop to the creek below. Its name derives from the many pinnacles or towers above it and was given by members of the Washburn Expedition in 1870. Just above Tower Creek’s mouth, Antelope Creek joins the Yellowstone River.

This is the location of the Bannock Ford, where Bannock Indians crossed the Yellowstone on their annual buffalo-hunting trek. It was the only good way to cross the Yellowstone until Baronett built his 1871 bridge about 2.5 miles (4 km) downstream. Old drawings and photographs of Tower Fall show a large boulder precariously poised at the edge of the fall. Members of the 1871 Hayden expedition placed bets on when it would fall, but not until June of1986 did it finally topple over the brink when no one happened to be watching. The boulder that fell in 1986 now lies among the other large rounded hunks of granite-gneiss near the fall’s base. Several of these boulders are as much as 10 feet (3 m) in diameter and may weigh up to 30 tons. According to geologists, they are 2.7-billion-year-old glacial erratics carried here from the Beartooth Range to the north and east a few tens of thousands of years ago. Unlike the Yellowstone River, which has cut its canyon through relatively easily eroded rocks, Tower Creek has encountered rocks that are more resistant. Also, the smaller volume of water means much less cutting power. Consequently, the Yellowstone has been able to cut down faster and leave Tower Creek perched on the side of the canyon, thus creating a hanging valley and a beautiful waterfall.

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