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The Best Places To Explore In Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is unmatched in terms of sheer beauty and distinctive hydrothermal features. Established in 1872, it was America’s first national park.

Yellowstone National Park covers a huge area across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It is one of the largest and most popular national parks in the United States.

Yellowstone sits on top of a dormant volcano. It has diverse landscapes and activities, from lush valleys with abundant wildlife to amazing canyons, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers that will capture your eyes.

1. Places To See At Yellowstone National Park

Here are some of the best naturally formed places that will capture your attention:

1.1. Old Faithful Geyser

Screenshot from: Old Faithful Geyser

The most famous site in the entire park is Old Faithful, located in the upper geyser basin. The geyser erupts almost 20 times daily, with its stem shooting water at a huge height. People visiting this park don’t miss that spectacular view. This place provides proof that there is an active volcano lying below you. At the educational center, you can check the estimated eruption time that has been predicted.

If you walk further past Old Faithful, the rest of the upper geyser basin also has a variety of other geysers, which are worth checking out. You will be able to notice the before-and-after appearance of the eruption. Don’t try to jump into them because they hold high-temperature steam that can burn your body.

The west entrance is the most popular one near West Yellowstone. Before and after visiting the park, you can have an amazing night in this town. The Grizzly Bears and Wolf Discovery Center is also worth visiting.

1.2. Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is located centrally to Yellowstone National Park and is generally the first place to see wildlife. If you drive through the lush valley, you will most likely see elk, bison, and occasional bears. The Yellowstone River is situated on the east side of the road, and you can admire the landscapes from several overlooks. Try visiting during the sunrise, as the wildlife will be active then.

At the edge of the valley is a mud volcano, an interesting hydrothermal feature. The area holds more mud spots and is said to be the most acidic part of the park.

1.3. Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin | Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Prismatic Spring is located in the Midway Geyser Basin and is the largest hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. It is the most photographed thermal feature with bright, vivid colors. The basin is home to the colorful turquoise pool and opal pool.

There is a boardwalk that will take you past all these featured geysers. You can feel the steam everywhere, but it’s not that hot. Due to its thermal features and climate changes, it is suggested that you wear raincoats when you visit the park.

To get an iconic aerial view of the spring, walk to the Grand Prismatic overlook, which is just a 15-minute walk from the Fairy Falls Trail.

Once you are done taking the aerial view, you can hike to Fairy Falls, the tallest waterfall in Yellowstone National Park. The trail winds through a forest and is almost flat. Overall, it is an 8-kilometer round trip and takes nearly 2 and a half hours to complete, which is worth it.

1.4. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon shows the park’s geographic history. Its multi-hued colors and shape are derived from the hydrothermally altered volcanic rock. An upper and lower fall add to the splendor of a unique, naturally formed landscape.

The canyon can be admired from various overlooks along the north and south rims. Highlights include the Grand View and canyon lookout point along the north rim, the Upper Falls view, and the iconic artist point along the south rim.

Yellowstone National Park is also home to hundreds of waterfalls, some of the most iconic ones being Lewis Falls, Undine Falls, Gibbon Falls, and Tower Falls. These are easily accessible by a short walking trail and are located in different corners of the park.

1.5. Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Basin: Home of the Tallest Geyser in the World | Yellowstone

The Norris geyser basin is located west of Canyon Village and is one of Yellowstone’s hottest, oldest, and most acidic thermal areas. The basin has two distinct sections. The Porcelain Bain is amazing, has no trees, and offers a sensory experience in sound, color, and smell. You can only visit this section on the boardwalk.

The other section, the Back Bain, contains geysers and hot springs in a forest setting. You will be able to find the tallest geysers in the world here, which are called steamboat geysers. The eruptions here can reach almost 300 feet. The sound of the spring will be exactly like something you are frying in the oil.

There is Gibbon Falls along the main road. It is a short 5-minute walk to see it. Don’t try to jump or swim, as the force of the water is way too deep. It is a 15-minute walk from the falls to the Norris geyser basin.

1.6. Mammoth Hot Springs

The Mammoth Hot Springs are located north of the Caldera and are a unique site in Yellowstone National Park. The hot springs rise through the soft limestone rock.

There are two upper and lower terrace boardwalks, which take you to approximately 50 hot springs. Some hot springs look colorful, and others look like frozen waterfalls in snow.

1.7. Lamar Valley

Yellowstone's Lamar Valley: The American Serengeti

You can’t leave Yellowstone National Park without visiting the breathtaking Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is located in the northeastern corner and is a favorite place in the entire park. It is referred to as American Serengeti and is known for its wide-open landscape, where you can easily spot populations of large animals. You can also encounter massive herds of bison, pronghorn, grizzly bears, deer, foxes, and some wolves.

Caution: Keep your eyes on the road, be patient, and park your vehicle as soon as possible if you spot any wildlife.

1.8. Yellowstone Lake

Exploring YELLOWSTONE LAKE | Yellowstone Lake Boat Tour | Bears at Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the United States. It sits over 7,000 feet, and you would love to spend more time there.

At 7000ft, it is a high-elevation lake. The lake has the highest population of wild cutthroat trout, so it is a great area for fishing. This place is easy to visit as there is no hiking involved.

2. Travel Tips

  1. Check the website for any closures or road work before entering.
  1. The park is immense, so if possible, try to stay at least three days and spread out your stay in different zones. There are campgrounds and lodges scattered around the park.
  2. There is no Wi-Fi or reception in the park, especially if you are camping. So, informing your friends or family before entering is highly recommended. If you stay at the lodges, you will get Wi-Fi, but the camping headquarters doesn’t.
  3. The weather is very unpredictable, so come prepared for all seasons. Bring enough warm clothing as well as a rain jacket. Get a waterproof tent and extra warm sleeping bags if you are camping. You can also rent a campervan for your comfort.
  4. Bring binoculars or a very good DSLR Camera with a zoom lens for wildlife watching.
  5. Carry bear spray and mosquito repellent for your safety and health. You can also get some essential items like
  • Hiking boots
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Light pants
  • Long shirt

3. Conclusion

The truth is that Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest collection of hot springs, geysers, and mud pots in the world. Over 10,000 hydrothermal features are found here, including more than 500 geysers.

Yellowstone National Park is at its sheer beauty and distinctive hydrothermal features where millions of visitors come here yearly. Add this national park to your bucket list, catch its geographic beauty, and enjoy the world that was created naturally.

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Annanya Chakraborty