10 Best Things to Do In Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s most famous parks. The park is home to popular tourist attractions, the Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring. There are many things to do in Yellowstone, and it would be an excellent family destination. You will love to explore breathtaking canyons, picturesque hot springs, wondrous geysers. Also, at Yellowstone park, you will see various animal species, including thousands of wild bison, majestic elk, bears, and wolves.

To make your trip to Yellowstone National Park memorable, here is a list of the 10 best things to do, attractions, and places to visit In Yellowstone.

YELLOWSTONE ATTRACTIONS:

Old Faithful, Things to Do In Yellowstone

01. Visit the wondrous Old Faithful:

Old Faithful is a cone geyser, and it is one of the most popular attractions of Yellowstone National Park. The Washburn Expedition discovered it in 1870 and was named “Old Faithful” for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions.

After the 1983 Borah Peak earthquake, eruptions intervals became increasingly less predictable. But when naturalists discover that the eruption time can determine by the duration of the preceding eruption, the predictions of eruptions became highly accurate. Now, the eruption generally occurs after every 90 minutes of interval, shooting 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water into the air that reaches an average height of about 145 feet.

The best way to enjoy the Old faithful:

Old faithful is one of the most iconic places in Yellowstone. There are three different ways you can enjoy this nature’s wonder. Firstly, the standard viewing from the boardwalk is 300 feet away from the geyser spout, where you will get the closest view of the eruption. If you are planning to watch the eruption from the boardwalk, try to go early, as it gets packed with lots of people, especially during noon and afternoon.

Get a bird’s-eye view of the geyser:

You can avoid the crowd if you go to the Observation Point. You can hike up to Observation Point, and it’s a 1.1-mile round trip with an uphill hike. And from the Observation Point, you will get a lovely bird’s-eye view of the geyser from 250 feet above. It would be a good place to enjoy your lunch.

Enjoy a view from Old Faithful Inn:

You can also enjoy a view of the Old Faithful Geyser eruption from the masterpiece of rustic architecture, the Old Faithful Inn. This National Historic Landmark was built between 190 and 904, and it is one of the few remaining log hotels in the United States. You will also love the beautiful and rich architecture of the hotel.

Explore the other lovely geysers and springs of Old Faithful:

If you are visiting old faithful, try to explore the whole area to see other beautiful geysers, lovely springs, landscape, and wildlife. Exploring other geysers and springs will be well worth it, as they are beautiful and less crowded.

Download the NPS Geysers App to get eruption prediction times:

Visit Google Play or the Apple App Store and download the NPS Geysers App to get eruption prediction times for Old Faithful Geyser and other geysers.

Overall:

It would be wonderful to visit one of the most popular Yellowstone attractions. Old faithful would be one of the top things to see in Yellowstone. Try to go early to secure a good spot to watch the eruptions. Also, if you go early, it will be much easier to park.

Recommended guided tour: 5-Mile Geyser Hiking Tour in Yellowstone with Lunch.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

02. Enjoy the picturesque beauty of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone:

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the first large canyon on the Yellowstone River downstream from Yellowstone Falls. The Grand Canyon was created about 640,000 years ago from a huge volcanic eruption that occurred in Yellowstone. And the infilling of lava flows continued for hundreds and thousands of years. Now, this stunning canyon is approximately 24 miles long and between 800 and 1,200 ft deep.

Hike to see the lovely Upper and Lower Falls:

To explore the picturesque beauty of the Grand Canyon, there are various trails and walkways on the rims and down partway into the canyon. From the various lookout points, you can enjoy the views of the lovely Falls. You can see the 109-foot Upper Falls from Upper Falls Trail and Uncle Tom’s Trail. Also, the 308-foot astonishing Lower Falls is visible from the various lookout points, including Red Rock Point, Artist Point, and South Rim Trail.

Get breathtaking views of Lower Falls from the Artist Point:

The North Rim Drive is a one-way road that will take you to four accessible points of the canyon, offering spectacular views of the canyon and river. And from South Rim Drive, you will get views of Upper Falls at Uncle Tom’s Point. Also, from Artist Point, you will get breathtaking views of Lower Falls and the canyon.

At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you will find both easy and strenuous hikes. At some trails, there is elevation gain so if you’re not accustomed to high altitudes, try to climb up slowly. And don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning Grand Canyon.

Overall:

Grand Canyon is one of the top Yellowstone attractions for hiking and seeing waterfalls. The lovely Upper and Lower Falls are a Yellowstone must-see. You can visit with your family and enjoy the breathtaking falls of the Grand Canyon.

Recommended guided tour: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Rim and Loop Hike with Lunch.

Grand Prismatic Spring
Clément Bardot, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

03. Enjoy the rainbow colors of Grand Prismatic Spring:

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the third-largest spring in the world. And the first records of the spring are from early European explorers and surveyors in 1839.

Characteristics of the Grand Prismatic Spring:

The spring is approximately 370 feet in diameter, bigger than a football field, and is 160 feet deep. And the water in the spring is deep blue, resulting from the intrinsic blue color of the water. The surrounding picturesque bright rainbow colors of the spring came from microbial mats around the edges of the mineral-rich water.

The surrounding color of the Grand Prismatic Spring changes in different seasons. During summer, you will see warm orange and red colors, and in the winter, you will see the spring decked out in dark green.

Best way to enjoy the beauty of the Grand Prismatic Spring:

There are two different ways you can see Grand Prismatic Spring. You can follow the 0.8-mile boardwalk loop, which circles the Prismatic Spring and the Excelsior Geyser. And from the surrounding boardwalk, you will get a close look at the spring. But the best way to enjoy the beauty of the spring is to hike the 1.6 miles round trip to the Grand Prismatic Overlook. From the overlook, you will get a view from above, where you will get the best views of the spring colors.

Best time to visit the Prismatic spring:

The best time to visit the spring is at noon or afternoon when the temperatures would be warm. Because during the morning, the spring is steamy and less visible. If you have time, visit the Grand Prismatic Spring from both the overlook and the boardwalk.

Overall:

The Grand Prismatic Spring would be one of the best things to see in Yellowstone. You will love to explore the stunning beauty of one of the top attractions in Yellowstone.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN YELLOWSTONE:

Lamar Valley, things to do in Yellowstone

04. Wildlife viewing at majestic Lamar Valley, things to do in Yellowstone:

Lamar Valley is located in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone Park and along the Lamar River. It is one of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone park for wildlife viewing.

Wildlife of Lamar Valley:

Lamar Valley is home to herds of elk, bison, grizzlies, Junction Butte and Lamar Canyon wolf packs, pronghorn, badgers, osprey, bald eagle, deer, coyotes, and a variety of bird species. The Lamar Valley is accessible via car year-round, and it is a prime location for wildlife viewing, especially during the early morning or late evening hours.

An opportunity to see the wild bison close by:

The Lamar Valley will be a wonderful destination to see various animals, and you will get to see the wild bison close by. It is a stunning place, and to enjoy this beautiful wide grassy valley and its lovely wildlife, visitors can drive through 29-miles of road.

The first section of the 29-miles road expanse between the Yellowstone River Bridge and the Lamar River Bridge, where you will get to see Grizzly bears and wolves. Take your binoculars with you, as the wolves and bears are hard to spot from close by. In this section, you will also find the Yellowstone Picnic Area and Slough Creek Campground.

Enjoy driving through the open Lamar Valley:

At Lamar Valley, You will drive through a mostly open Valley, abundant with Majestic bison herds and other notable park wildlife. You will find many excellent vantage points for wildlife viewing. Also, you will enjoy the stunning views of the valley.

The last section of the road follows Soda Butte Creek all the way northward to Cooke City, and along the way, you will enjoy a scenic drive. You can also stop by at the lovely campgrounds, Slough Creek and Pebble Creek.

Overall:

Wildlife viewing at majestic Lamar Valley will be one of the top things to do in Yellowstone. You can go for wildlife viewing with your family and friends. Try to go before sunrise to spot many animals.

Recommended guided tour: Lamar Valley Safari Hiking Tour with Lunch, Private Yellowstone Wildlife Sightseeing Tour.

white water rafting, Things to Do In Yellowstone

05. Enjoy white water rafting on the lovely Yellowstone River:

The Yellowstone River winds its way through Yellowstone National Park for almost 700 miles, including sections with crashing waterfalls and areas of calm flow. The river goes through some of the park’s most stunning scenery: Yellowstone Lake, the Upper and Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Yellowstone River offers various white water rafting trips along the way.

Thrilling white water rafting adventure in Yellowstone with Wild West Rafting:

White water rafting trips on the Yellowstone River will be one of the ultimate family fun experiences. You can plan your thrilling white water rafting adventure with Wild West Rafting. The Wild West Rafting runs float trips through Yellowstone’s majestic Paradise Valley. On your trip, you’ll have a great chance to see plenty of wildlife such as deer, elk, osprey, bald eagles, and many others. The Yellowstone River offers visitors to enjoy all that Yellowstone has to offer on scenic whitewater rafting trips. The trips start from beginners to more seasoned thrill-seekers, and you can enjoy with your entire family. Visit the website for more details and to make your plans.

White water rafting in Yellowstone with Flying Pig Adventure Company:

You can enjoy one of the best white water rafting in Yellowstone with Flying Pig Adventure Company. The Flying Pig Adventure Company offers premier white water rafting through Yellowstone’s breathtaking landscape, western-style horseback riding, and world-class fly-fishing adventures which you can enjoy with your whole family. You can choose from an 8-mile white water rafting trip, a thrilling and more technical 18-mile ride through Yankee Jim Canyon, or an immersive overnight trip. Visit the website for more details and to make your plans.

Enjoy White water rafting and Zip-lining in Yellowstone:

Yellowstone white water Rafting and Zipline Company offer 3 great activities, scenic white water rafting, guided zip line EcoTour, and horseback riding. The Yellowstone River features rolling wave rapids which are enjoyable to ride. Yellowstone River rafting trip is great for children ages 6 and up. On the trip, you can enjoy spectacular views and see wildlife like river otters and bald eagles.

You will enjoy their Yellowstone EcoTour Zipline, based in Gardiner, which offers zips on the mountains bordering Yellowstone, sky bridges, and multiple 1,200-foot ziplines soaring 200 feet above Cinnabar Creek. It would be ideal activities for both families and thrill-seekers. You can enjoy half-day and full-day activities and multi-activity packages such as the popular “Zip & Dip” or “Paddle & Saddle.” Visit the website for more details and to make your plans.

White water Rafting in Yellowstone with Paradise Adventure Company:

White water rafting in Yellowstone will be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Paradise Adventure Company offers to enjoy thrilling adventure, beautiful scenery, and wildlife. Each raft has its own guide, and they will take photos of you as you splash through the rapids. You can choose from 8 miles and 18 miles White water Yellowstone Rafting Adventures, and the kids will love this trip.

They also have other trips, including scenic Yellowstone River float trips. On this trip, you will enjoy a relaxing ride, breathtaking scenery, and wildlife viewing. It’s great for all ages, families, or groups, and you can also take your dog. Visit the website for more details and to make your plans.

White water rafting through the Yellowstone River with Yellowstone Raft Company:

You can go white water rafting with Yellowstone Raft Company. Yellowstone Raft Company has been taking families and friends through the Yellowstone River’s exhilarating whitewater rapids since 1978. They offer various trips, including 18 Miles of white water rafting adventure, 8 Miles of white water rafting, and a Scenic Float on the Yellowstone River.

On the 18 Miles of White water rafting Adventure, You’ll enjoy Class II and Class III whitewater rafting through the incredible scenery at the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, through the historic rocky Yankee Jim Canyon, and take out at majestic Tom Miner Basin.

On the 8 Miles of white water rafting, You will enjoy pristine views of Yellowstone’s mountains, a true geothermal wonder at the terraced La Duke Hot Springs, and other notable sights like the Devil’s Slide and local wildlife.

If you want to enjoy a more relaxing ride, you can do their Scenic Float and enjoy breathtaking scenery and wildlife viewing. This trip starts along the northern border of Yellowstone and passes by Electric Peak, one of the tallest peaks in Yellowstone. You will also see natural wonders like Boiling Beach, La Duke Hotsprings, and the Devil’s Slide. Visit the website for more details and to make your plans.

Overall:

White water rafting will be one of the best things to do in Yellowstone. It would be a wonderful way to spend time with your family and friends, and you will make some lifetime memories together. White water rafting is a must-do in Yellowstone if you love thrilling adventures.

Hayden Valley, Things to Do In Yellowstone
Montanabw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

06. Wildlife viewing at Hayden Valley:

Hayden Valley is located at the heart of Yellowstone National Park. It’s a vast open grassland, and the gorgeous Yellowstone River flows along with the valley. Hayden Valley, named for Ferdinand Hayden, leader of the 1871 Hayden Survey. The valley provides an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing, and it is one of the best locations to view wildlife in Yellowstone.

Wildlife of Hayden Valley:

Hayden Valley’s spectacular wildlife includes large herds of bison, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, elk, river otters, Foxes, badgers, and squirrels. It is also home to many bird species, including hawks, eagles, pelicans, ducks, geese, Great blue herons, and Trumpeter swans.

A chance to see the Wapiti Lake wolf pack:

Hayden Valley would be a lovely place for wildlife viewing. Several high spots with pullouts along the Grand Loop Road make for the best vantage points. The valley is home to the Wapiti Lake wolf pack. And if you want to spot them, your best bet would be to arrive early in the morning and find a place to watch. You may also get to see bears if you go early, as they are most active at dusk and dawn.

While driving on the valley road, you may also encounter majestic bison crossing the road. It would be lovely to see them close by.

Enjoy hiking at Hayden Valley:

At Hayden Valley, you can also go hiking. Group hiking is recommended because of the high possibility of meeting a grizzly bear. Also, keep bear spray with you. You can hike to the Mary Mountain Trail from the Hayden Valley to the Madison area.

Overall:

Wildlife viewing at Hayden Valley would be one of the top things to do in Yellowstone. Hayden Valley is a Yellowstone must-see place for wildlife viewing.

Recommended hiking tour: Private Yellowstone Wildlife Sightseeing Tour.

THINGS TO SEE IN YELLOWSTONE:

Norris Geyser Basin

07. Explore Norris Geyser Basin to see the tallest geyser in the world:

Norris Geyser Basin was named after Philetus W. Norris, the second superintendent of Yellowstone. It is the hottest and most changeable geothermal area in Yellowstone. The waters at Norris are mostly acidic. At Norris Geyser Basin, you will get to see the tallest geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser, rare acid geysers, and Echinus Geyser.

Hike through the trails to enjoy Norris Geyser Basin:

You can enjoy this unique natural wonder through 3.6 km of boardwalk and dirt trails. There are two trails, the Porcelain Basin trail, where you will be walking through a 1.3 km dirt trail and boardwalk, and it’s a steaming landscape barren of trees.

The 1.5 mile Back Basin trail is more heavily wooded, and there are many geysers and hot springs scattered throughout the area. Also, from the Back Basin trail, you will get to see the popular Steamboat Geyser.

You can also stop by at the Norris Museum, where you will see exhibits relating to the origins of the geothermal features found at the basin.

Overall:

Exploring the Norris Geyser Basin would be one of the best things to do in Yellowstone. It will be one of the best places to visit in Yellowstone to see lots of variety in the geysers and springs along the boardwalk. It gets crowded, so try to go early, and it would be hard to find parking if you go late.

Mammoth Hot Springs
Image by paweesit / flickr

08. Explore the lovely Mammoth Hot Springs, things to do in Yellowstone:

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs and comprises a broad terraced hillside of travertine. The hot water of Mammoth Hot Springs comes from Norris Geyser Basin after traveling underground. And to enjoy the lovely Springs, there are two terrace boardwalks, the upper and lower.

The Upper and Lower Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs:

The popular features of the Lower Terrace are Liberty Cap and Minerva Spring. The Minerva Spring is popular among visitors because of its wide range of colors and complex travertine formations. And the Liberty Cap rises 37 feet in the air. You can access the lower boardwalk from the parking lot or the Grand Loop Road.

On the other hand, the Upper Terraces include Prospect Terrace, New Highland Terrace, Orange Spring Mound, Bath Lake, White Elephant Back Terrace, and Angel Terrace. The Angel Terrace is known for its pure white formations. And the Orange Spring Mound is named for its Orange color created by bacteria and algae.

Try to go early to avoid crowds:

Mammoth Hot Springs is accessible by car year-round. Try to go early to avoid crowds and to secure a parking spot. You can enjoy exploring the lovely hot springs and terraces through 1.75 miles of Boardwalks around the Upper and Lower Terraces.

Overall:

Mammoth Hot Springs would be one of the top things to see in Yellowstone. You will love exploring this unique natural wonder along with other popular Yellowstone attractions.

Morning Glory Pool, Upper Geyser Basin

 

09. Explore over 150 hydrothermal wonders at Upper Geyser Basin:

The Upper Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s largest geyser basin and the world’s largest single concentration of hot springs. It is about one square mile and contains over 150 hydrothermal wonders. The Upper Geyser Basin comprises 5 different sections, including the Old Faithful area, Geyser Hill, Castle Geyser and Morning Glory Pool, Black Sand Basin, and Biscuit Basin.

The major highlights of the Upper Geyser Basin:

The major geysers of the Upper Geyser Basin include Old Faithful, Grand, Castle, Daisy, and Riverside. If you are planning to visit the Upper Geyser Basin, try to spend at least a day, to explore all the major wondrous features of the Basin.

To explore the Upper Basin, you will find a 1.5 miles wheelchair-accessible trail where you will get to see various pools and geysers. On this trail, you will get to see the stunning morning glory pool and the heart pool.

You can get a map from the visitor center and plan your route. The Upper Geyser Basin isn’t small, and there are lots of things to see. It would be a good idea to make a plan for your walk on the trail and the things you want to see, especially if you have limited time and traveling with young children.

Overall:

Exploring the Upper Geyser Basin would be one of the best things to do in Yellowstone. You will enjoy seeing various beautiful pools and geysers, including the Old Faithful, one of the most popular attractions of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Lake

10. Visit the breathtaking Yellowstone Lake:

Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America, situated at 7,733 feet (2,357 m) above sea level. The lake is around 20 miles long and 14 miles wide. And it covers a surface area of 132 square miles. Yellowstone Lake freezes over completely every winter in late December or early January. And the ice usually melts in late May or early June.

The largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America:

Yellowstone Lake has the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America. At the lake, you can go fishing, but you have to follow the catch-and-release policy. Also, from the popular Fishing Bridge at the north end of the lake, fishing is prohibited. The lake is also home to many bird species, including Canadian geese, sandhill cranes, common loons, American white pelicans, and trumpeter swan.

Enjoy your lunch at Steamboat Point picnic ground:

Yellowstone Lake runs through many parts of the park, and there are lots of places to pull off along the coast with picnic tables. There are a few geysers right around the Lake and many colorful steaming pools of water. You’ll also see geysers in the water and steam coming out on the shore. Try to stop by at Steamboat Point picnic ground for stunning views of the lake and enjoy your lunch.

Overall:

The lake would be one of the best places to visit in Yellowstone. You will enjoy the stunning views of Yellowstone Lake.

Recommended tour: Kayak Day Paddle on Yellowstone Lake.

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