Yellowstone is one of the most awe-inspiring attractions in the United States. Home to almost 500 geysers, some of the most beautiful natural springs in the world, and a slew of majestic wildlife, the park is a must-visit if you’re in the area.
Here are some of the best things to do in Yellowstone.
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Old Faithful Geyser
The Old Faithful Geyser is the most predictable (and the most famous) of nearly 500 Yellowstone geysers. The first to receive a name, it erupts around every 90 minutes, making it one of the easiest geysers to see in action.
Like the Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful is one of the busiest attractions in the park. No matter when you visit you can expect crowds. That said, the Upper Geyser Basin area is quite large, so there is plenty of room to spread out.
Grand Prismatic Spring
The crown jewel of the Midway Geyser Basin, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and one of the most singular natural wonders on Earth. It also happens to be the most photographed (and therefore most recognizable) landmark in Yellowstone.
This awe-inspiring spring is deeper than a 10-story building and larger than a football field, making for a truly humbling experience. It gets its colorful layers from a variety of species of heat-loving bacteria that live in its surroundings, making the spring pop with saturated hues of blues, yellows, greens, and oranges.
Obviously, the Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the busiest attractions in the park. No matter when you choose to visit, it’s a safe bet to expect a crowd.
Upper Geyser Basin and Morning Glory Pool
Home to the Old Faithful Geyser, the Upper Geyser Basin is home to around 25% of the world’s geysers. It’s a scenic area crisscrossed with walking paths that pass a slew of geysers and thermal features. Even if you’re aiming specifically for Old Faithful, do yourself a favor and take some time for the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin as well.
While some geysers may be dormant when you visit, if you walk through the area up to the Morning Glory Pool you’re sure to see at least a few in action. Some of the best spots to see include the Daisy Geyser, the Castle Geyser, the Grotto Geyser, and the colorful Morning Glory Pool.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the most renowned landmarks in Yellowstone. It’s over 24 miles long, stretches up to 4,000-feet wide, and dips down to 1,200-feet deep in parts. Both rims of the canyon sport multiple walking trails and lookouts with the main ones drawing the most crowds.
The crown jewel of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is the Artist Point. This South Rim lookout offers awe-inspiring views over the canyon as well as its most renowned feature: the Lower Falls. Further points of interest include the Brink of the Upper Falls, Inspiration Point, and the Lower Falls.
If you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast then you’ll enjoy Yellowstone immensely. One of the best places to see bison and other animals in the park is Lamar Valley. Often overlooked by visitors due to its remoteness, it’s home to some of the most spectacular landscapes in the park as well as a slew of wildlife.
Lamar Valley is THE place to see wild bison. You’ll see hundreds if not thousands of the majestic beasts roaming freely across the massive plains. If you’re patient (and lucky), you might also spot some deer, elk, coyotes, bears, or even wolves.
Hayden Valley is probably the most popular area to spot wildlife in Yellowstone and it can get seriously crowded as a result. This isn’t helped by the fact the bison like to hang out on the road, causing “bison jams” that can delay you up to an hour.
That said, if you want to see the park’s wildlife up close and personal, then Hayden Valley is the place to do it. If you travel early in the morning or late in the afternoon you’re more likely to see animals as they’re more active at those times. Just remember to keep your distance from the wildlife and stay in your car if they’re nearby.
The biggest high-elevation lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake freezes over entirely every winter and is still too cold to swim in during the summer months. As a result, the best way to explore the lake is via boat.
There are a number of guided scenic boat tours available or if you prefer to explore on your own you can rent your own boat or try your hand at kayaking. There is also a slew of hiking trails that butt up against the lake shores, offering awesome views of the lake and its surroundings.
Old Faithful Inn
One of the oldest lodges in Yellowstone, the Old Faithful Inn was built in 1903-1904 and is the largest log structure in the world. You needn’t be a guest of the hotel in order to visit, simply pop in to explore the majesty of the main building.
For those interested in the history of the lodge, you can take an organized tour of the structure. These tours are free and run several times a day.
Camping in Yellowstone
Yellowstone has a few reservable campgrounds and a few first-come-first-served campgrounds. If you opt for the latter it’s essential that you get in early to secure your spot.
Yellowstone is also a massive park so you might consider spreading your camping across a couple of campgrounds, depending on what attractions you want to see while you’re there.
Some of Yellowstone’s top campgrounds include:
- Norris campground
- Maddison campground
- Grant village campground
Visit Yellowstone on your next road trip
There really are a million things to do in Yellowstone. Today we’ve listed a few of the best but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, at least now you have a few starting points. If you’re in for a road trip, take a look at other amazing destinations in the area.