Sheepeater Cliff is our go to picnic site when we are in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Just south of Swan Lake Flats is the turnoff to Sheepeater Cliff there will be a sign with a picnic table on it. We enjoy the place because of the pikas and marmots that frequent the area….PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUCEMENT….please do not feed the animals, help keep nature wild.
Another reason we like the Sheepeater cliff area because of the short walking trail along the Gardner River. The trail is the perfect combination after a meal. Nice, flat, and short. Well marked and easy to follow it will take just a few minutes to get to the end. However, you might have to scramble over some fallen logs even they have not worked the area in while. If you keep going down the trail about a half mile from the start you will reach Tukuarika Falls. A cascading waterfall that drops about 25 feet.
For the geologist in the crowd the Sheepeater Cliff has some interesting tidbits. The cliffs are made out of columnar basalt. The lava was deposited there about a half a million years ago. As the basalt lava cooled it formed the vertical rock pillars found in the area. I wish I would have known all that when my inquisitive daughter was asking.
When planning a Yellowstone picnic especially in the busier months. Try to schedule your lunch a little before or a little after normal lunch hours. The reason is that places like Sheepeater Cliff have limited picnic tables and parking. We are up and about early so when it gets close to 10:30 we start to look for places to eat. By doing that we usually never have a hard time finding a table to eat at.
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