The Wondrous Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is America’s first and one of the most popular national parks. The park is home to various unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders. Yellowstone National Park attracts millions of visitors each year, and it would be an excellent family destination for a vacation. You will love to explore breathtaking canyons, picturesque hot springs, alpine rivers, lush forests, and wondrous geysers. Also, at Yellowstone park, you will get an excellent opportunity to see various animals, including thousands of wild bison, majestic elk, bears, and wolves.

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

01. Visit the wondrous Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park:

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 about 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 National Park attractions. 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

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

02. Picturesque 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. From the Artist Point, in 1872, Thomas Moran painted his famous canvas, “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.”

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 would be a lovely place to visit in Yellowstone National Park for hiking and seeing waterfalls. 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, Yellowstone

03. Enjoy the rainbow colors of Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park:

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, try to visit the Grand Prismatic Spring from both the overlook and the boardwalk.

Overall:

It would be a wonderful experience for you to explore the stunning beauty of one of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone National Park.

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

04. Wildlife viewing at majestic Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park:

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:

Lamar Valley would be a lovely place to visit in Yellowstone National Park. 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.

Hayden Valley, Yellowstone

Hayden Valley
Montanabw, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

05. Wildlife viewing at Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park:

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, and 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:

Hayden Valley is a must-see place in Yellowstone National Park for wildlife viewing.

Recommended hiking tour: Private Yellowstone Wildlife Sightseeing Tour.

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

06. Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park:

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 National Park. 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 miles (2.41 km) Back Basin trail is more heavily wooded. On this trail, you will find 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 related to the origins of the geothermal features found at the basin.

Overall:

You will love to see lots of variety in the geysers and springs along the boardwalk. Try to go early as it gets crowded. Also, it would be hard to find parking if you go late.

Check out all the most popular Yellowstone National Park geysers: 10 Most popular Yellowstone geysers.

Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Upper Geyser Basin
Image by Allan Harris / flickr

06. 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, 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:

Upper Geyser Basin would be a wonderful place to see various beautiful pools and geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

Check out all the most popular Yellowstone National Park geysers: 10 Most popular Yellowstone geysers.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
Image by paweesit / flickr

07. Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park:

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 is a must-see place in Yellowstone National Park. You will love exploring this unique natural wonder along with other popular Yellowstone attractions.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

08. 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 areas of the park. 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 a lovely place to spend some time in Yellowstone National Park. You will enjoy the stunning views of Yellowstone Lake.

Recommended tour: Kayak Day Paddle on Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone trails

Yellowstone trails

09. Best hikes in Yellowstone National Park:

Avalanche Peak Trail:

Avalanche Peak Trail is a 7.6 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail in Yellowstone National Park. The trail changes from woods to a small field and open areas to very rocky. Avalanche Peak Trail goes up approximately 2,000 ft in elevation in 2.1 miles (3.38 km). The hike up on the trail is steep and challenging but worth all the effort, as when you reach the top, you will get amazing alpine scenery of the Absaroka Range and a superb view of Lake Yellowstone. It would be a good idea to bring walking sticks, water, and good walking shoes.

Brink of the Lower Falls Trail:

Brink of the Lower Falls Trail is a 1.1 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail in Yellowstone National Park. The trail is a steep climb down to the viewpoint of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Brink of the Lower Falls Trail takes the hikers 308 feet into the heart of the canyon, offering spectacular views down the river and the lovely colorful canyon. The trail is mostly paved, and the hike is a lot easier than the way back up. And when you reach the viewpoint of the trail, you will get breathtaking views of the massive cascading waterfalls.

Lamar River trail, Yellowstone:

Lamar River trail is a 33-mile lightly trafficked out and back trail that follows the Lamar River all the way to Cold Creek. The trail goes by the east side of the river through the Lamar Valley’s pristine meadows, rolling hills, wildflowers, and stunning mountain scenery. Lamar River Trail in Yellowstone National Park begins from the Lamar River Trailhead, located about 15 miles east of Tower Junction on Northeast Entrance Road. The trail goes by the banks of both the Lamar River and Cache Creek. Lamar River trail provides an excellent opportunity to explore the upper Lamar Valley.

During your hike, you will get to see lots of wildlife, including bison, pronghorn, elk, bears, and even wolves. You will also get lots of photographic opportunities, and to get a better chance to see lots of wildlife, try to go early in the morning. Bears are frequent in this area, so carry bear spray with you.

Bunsen peak trail:

Bunsen Peak Trail is a 7.1 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail in Yellowstone National Park. You will climb up 1,300 feet through forest and meadow to the summit of Bunsen Peak. The Bunsen Peak trail is a well-signed, moderate march up the remains of a volcano to a summit with spectacular 360-degree views of Yellowstone’s Northern Range. From the top, you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Gallatin mountain range, Swan Lake Flats, Mammoth Hot Springs, Fort Yellowstone, Blacktail Deer Plateau, Everts Bluff, and the Yellowstone River Valley.

Grizzly bears are frequent in this area, so bring bear spray with you. You can hike with your kids and enjoy your lunch at the top.

Beaver Ponds Trail, Yellowstone:

Beaver Ponds Trail is a 9.7 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail with over 350 feet in elevation. The trail starts at the trailhead by the Mammoth terraces, and the five-mile loop goes through sagebrush meadows, forest, and grassland. Along the trail, you will see lots of beautiful wildflowers and several wooden bridges over waterways. The beaver ponds are approximately halfway around the loop. You might see beavers or their sign, but you are more likely to see muskrats and water birds.

Beaver Ponds Trail also provides an excellent opportunity to see wildlife, including bears, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and moose. Bears are frequent in this area, so bring bear spray with you.

Hiking on the Trout Lake trail:

Trout Lake trail is a 1.9 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail in Yellowstone National Park. The hike to Trout Lake begins from the Trout Lake Trailhead, located roughly 1.5 miles south of the Pebble Creek Campground on Northeast Entrance Road. The trail starts with a moderately strenuous climb through a Douglas-fir forest to reach the top of a ridge. You will need some effort to hike up the first 0.5 miles of the trail, but it’s rewarding, and you will get amazing views of the lake.

Along the trail, you will see lots of wildflowers. And from the footbridge, you will hear the lovely sound of rushing streams. You may also get to see some wildlife, including beaver, geese, and bison.

Overall:

Hiking would be one of the best Yellowstone National Park activities. You can enjoy hiking on various trails with your family and friend and enjoy the beauty and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park.

Check out all the best hiking trails in Yellowstone National Park: 13 best hikes in Yellowstone.

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