Worth a visit if you’re in Yellowstone for the big holiday weekend: After a two-year reconstruction project, the Inspiration Point overlook area is now open, providing a safer and more accessible viewing area at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
“The design of the new overlook uses natural materials to protect the natural setting and integrate the infrastructure into the canyon’s spires and cliffs,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “I’m excited for our visitors to experience Inspiration Point in a new way.”
There is a necklace of eight overlooks in the Canyon area connected by five miles of trails, all constructed between 1930 and 1950. For nearly 70 years, these vistas have hosted millions of people—and that visitation, in addition to natural erosion, has taken its toll.
To address maintenance needs and improve safety, the park undertook a major initiative to repair and improve overlooks, trails, and parking lots along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Lookout Point and Grand View were completed in 2005. Artist Point was completed in 2007. Inspiration Point is the fourth overlook to be rehabilitated. The fifth project, Uncle Tom’s Point and parts of South Rim Trail, is expected to reopen later this fall.
Immediately following the opening of Uncle Tom’s Point, the park will break ground at the Brink of Upper Falls, the next overlook in the long-term project. This area will be closed through 2019.
The rehabilitation work on Inspiration Point and Uncle Tom’s totaled $12 million. It was funded in part by Yellowstone Forever, the parks nonprofit philanthropic partner.
The final two overlooks, Brink of the Lower Falls and Red Rock Point, will break ground as early as 2020 and the estimated cost is $10 million. With the opportunity to capitalize on $4.5 million in federal matching funds, Yellowstone Forever is currently seeking corporate and private donations for the last stage of this rehabilitation project.
Photos courtesy National Park Service.