Best Things to see in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the United States in 1872. Most of the park is located in Wyoming, but its borders stretch into parts of southeern Montana and eastern Idaho. The entrance fee to enter the park in a car is $25 for a seven-day pass, which also includes access to Grand Teton National Park. Yellowstone is a beautiful and unique place to visit that has something for everyone to see and enjoy from spectacular waterfalls, abundant wild life, hot springs, geysers, or mountain vistas. My family and I really enjoyed our vacation in Yellowstone National Park.
Waterfalls in YellowstoneClick thumbnail to view full-size
Yellowstone has several spectacular waterfalls that are absolutely amazing. The best in my opinion is the Lower Yellowstone Falls. It is about 300 feet tall and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful cliffs that I have ever seen. You can either choose to hike down to the base of the falls using Uncle Tom's trail or you can view it from Artist Point which is a fair distance away, but it is well framed by the high canyon walls. A warning on Uncle Tom's Trail is that it is easy to go down about 300 steps, but it is very strenuous to climb back out because the falls are at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Worth the climb back up, but I wanted to warn anyone who is not up to it physically. Yellowstone has two other great falls, Upper Yellowstone Falls and Tower Falls. There are many other ones to check out as well.
Abundant Wildlife in YellowstoneClick thumbnail to view full-size
Yellowstone National Park is an animal lover's paradise. It is like a giant zoo without cages. Bison, elk, moose, pronghorns, grizzly bears, black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and gray wolves are just some of the animals that call Yellowstone home. The best places in the park to see wildlife are Mammoth Hot Springs (elk), Lamar Valley, and Hayden Valley. The best tip that I can give you is to visit early in the morning or early evening as the animals are most active then. Also, drive slow and take the time to look around you as you never know when you will see an animal in the forest or walking along the road. Remember to keep a safe distance from the animals. The National Park Service recommends 100 yards from the large animals and 25 yards from all others. It is important to remember that these are wild animals living in their natural habitat. They can be dangerous if you get to close. On our visit to Yellowstone, we were fortunate enough to see a grizzly bear, five black bears, too many bison, decent number of elk, two eagles, several pronghorns, and a moose as we were driving out the East Entrance Road.
Yellowstone is home to sixty percent of the world's geysers. The most famous being Old Faithful that erupts between 90 and 184 feet high about every hour and half (give or take 20 minutes) depending on the length of the last eruption. Make sure to check with the visitor center as they are really good about giving estimates to when Old Faithful will erupt again. This area can get very busy in July and August, so be sure to come early or later as parking can be hard to find during the middle of the day. There are four other geysers that erupt daily and they are Castle, Grand, Daisy, and Riverside. Hot Springs are also prevalent in the park with the most famous being Grand Prismatic Spring which is the largest hot spring in the United States at 370 feet in diameter and about 120 feet deep. The coloring of the water is absolutely stunning. The other hot spring that is a cannot miss is the Artist Paint Pots, which looks like bubbling paint.
Geysers and Hot SpringsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Other Things to See in YellowstoneClick thumbnail to view full-size
There are several other things that I would list as must sees in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in North America at a high elevation. It is lined with snow-capped mountains to the south and offers some very nice areas to have a picnic lunch. There are also a few thermal features in and around the lake which make it even more a must see. Mammoth Hot Springs is another must see. It is a large terrace spring that has been stained by minerals deposits over the years and it amazing on a clear cool day. Mammoth is best seen early in the morning and evening in order to seem the steam rise off the color terrace. The final place that I would say is a must see if the Northeast Entrance Road which leads to Beartooth Pass. It is the highest area of the park and well worth a drive because of the amazing mountain views. We took it an hour or so before sunset and everything was spectacular.
Yellowstone National Park is one of most unique places that I have ever been. It is amazing to be driving across the caldera of one of the largest volcanoes in the world and yet see lush green forests and abundant wildlife. All of the geothermal features are very intriguing and a must see. Be sure to bring a camera and take lots of pictures. My family and I loved our trip and cannot wait to go back again.