Distance: 6 miles (round trip)
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall
Last hiked: 2015 September
Artist Point in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River has some of the best views of the canyon, or even anywhere in the park itself. For those wanting a bit more with an extra detour to a remote lake, Ribbon Lake and Point Sublime make for great destinations!
The trail begins at the back side of Artist Point and begins to wind its way around a large curve in the canyon. Inspiration Point overlooking the north rim soon comes into view as you begin to wrap around it from the south rim. Along the way, there are many different views of the canyon, each of them just as mesmerizing, if not more so, than the previous.
At nearly .75 miles, the trail will fork, allowing you the opportunity to head back to Ribbon Lake. The trail to Ribbon Lake heads through a thick forest dotted with an occasional meadow. On its way to catch another junction to Ribbon Lake, the trail will pass over a small bridge followed by Lily Pad Lake, a quiet lake covered with lily pads. The trail continues south to the next junction.
At the junction, head left to reach Ribbon Lake. The trail continues through the dense forest, gradually increasing in elevation here and there. After about a mile, the trail will begin to drop noticeably in elevation. At the bottom of the hill, the trail joins meets another junction and just through the trees is Ribbon Lake, a more majestic lake than expected surrounded by lush meadows. Poke around for a bit and enjoy the peace and quiet. When you’re ready to head back, make sure you catch the right trail! You’ll know because you should start climbing back up that hill within just a few hundred yards.
Heading back out and passing Lily Pad Lake on your way back out, you return to the original junction at the canyon. Left will bring you back to the parking lot, whereas right will bring you to Point Sublime. Naturally along the way, there are also many more views of the canyon. Point Sublime itself is about another .75 miles from the junction, then a 1.5 mile return trip back to the parking area, so if time is an issue take that into account, otherwise, proceed!
The actual view from Point Sublime isn’t quite as dramatic as the views along the way or as the name implies. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. It’s still a great view and makes for an excellent spot to relax and enjoy a break. To head back whenever you’re ready, just follow the canyon trail back to the parking lot.
From Canyon Village, head to the main highway at the 4-way stop sign and take a left. Head south for 2.25 miles and make a left at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone South Rim Drive. Cross over the Yellowstone River immediately after the turn and proceed to the end of the road, which dead ends at a parking area at Artist Point.