Few places brandish the might of nature as spectacularly as Yellowstone.
Drawing power from the vast supervolcano hidden under its surface, the United States’ first national park is home to almost 2.2 million acres of kaleidoscopic beauty and immense wilderness.
Of course, the explosive nature of its big-ticket attractions is worth the visit alone, but step away from the swarms of tourists jostling for a peek at Old Faithful, and you’ll find a land of cascades, canyons, and critters big and small. Inimitable in every sense of the word.
Take a walk on the wild side.
Welcome to Yellowstone National Park.
5 things you can’t miss in Yellowstone
Check out Old Faithful and the other Geysers
Old Faithful is arguably the park’s most famous landmark, and no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without a visit. The geyser is the most dependable of the park’s nearly five hundred and one of the most spectacular.
It erupts roughly every ninety minutes (hence the name), making it the best place to see the spout of water and steam erupting. The big caveat with Old Faithful is its popularity. Tourists often swarm straight to its viewing decks and can’t ruin the experience a little. Pick your time wisely to have fewer crowds. Going as early as possible is the best advice.
Don’t ignore the other geysers, though. The Grand Geyser goes off every six or seven hours, firing water as high as fifty meters into the air. The Riverside Geyser has one of the more prolonged eruptions, which can work to your benefit. Most people don’t stay for the entire length, so patience will give you some epic views without so many crowds.
Here’s a list of some of the best geysers to visit along with all of their most recent eruptions so you can try and plan your visit.
You’ve made all this effort to drive out to Wyoming, don’t lessen the visit by only venturing outside your car at the viewpoints. Sure, the roads winding their way through the park make for one of the most astounding road trips of your life, but you’re missing out on 95% of the experience by not getting your boots a little dirty.
One of the best day hikes is up Avalanche Peak. The route itself is only two miles there and back, but don’t be fooled. You’ll be gaining around two thousand feet in that short trip. The payoff is a remarkable view over the park and even some snow as late as July.
The Beaver Pond loop is perfect for families or those seeking a more gentle day out. It’s still a long walk, pulling in around 5.5 miles, but it gifts the marvelous opportunity to see the anonymous dam-building mammals and other wildlife. It also doesn’t double back, keeping it fresh the entire way.
For a super-challenging full-day affair that gets you up close and personal with some of the best features of Yellowstone, try the Seven-mile hole trail. The whole thing is, you guessed it, ten miles long (gotcha) and leads hikers down into the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Well worth the challenge. These are only a few of the hundreds of options available, including the daunting Mount Washburn.
Put a spring in your step
Geysers might be the big attraction, but Yellowstone is packed with unique natural landscapes and features, some relating to its location on a volcano and others not.
Arguably the most iconic is the Grand Prismatic Spring. The astoundingly beautiful hot spring is the third largest in the world and is known for its kaleidoscopic array of colors. The hypnotizing colors are the product of microbes thriving in the volcanically heated spring water, producing what can only be described as nature’s painting board. Truly stunning.
The unique Mammoth hot springs are also a must for any visit. The springs have combined with an assortment of calcified minerals to form a natural steaming staircase that has to be seen to be believed.
Get the Grand Canyon experience
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is a spectacular formation, giving visitors a glimpse into the hundreds of thousands of years of work that time has imparted on the landscape. From the initial gushing waterfall plummeting a thousand feet to the snaking valley of the river, the Grand Canyon is a special place to experience.
Get the adrenaline pumping
A national park as dynamic as Yellowstone has plenty of heart-quickening activities to fill your time.
Saddle up and try your hand at horseback riding so you can get up close to the wildlife. Then keep that living that cowboy life with a traditional Old West BBQ meal at the Roosevelt Lodge.
If you’re looking to take to the water, sign up for a whitewater river rafting adventure. Companies like Yellowstone Raft will help you ride the rapids while being right in the heart of the wild racing Yellowstone river.