As one of the most stunning national parks in the United States, Yellowstone is bigger and not only the first national park in the United States but also the world’s first national park. It is the most unique national park that lies on top of a beautiful volcano. It is the destination for more wild animals. It has a massive area and there are so many things to do within the park boundaries. There are five entrance stations, ten visitor centers, eight developed areas with restaurants, lodges, and stores to explore Yellowstone. It is one of the best national parks for a picnic in summer. Below we have the list of top attractions which you don’t want to miss in the Yellowstone National Park.
Old Faithful Geyser/Upper Basin
The upper basin geyser is the most popular attraction in Yellowstone National Park. It is the largest geyser basin in the park that contains the largest concentration of the hot springs in the world. And it is the home to the famous geyser called ‘Old Faithful’. This geyser is the most popular one where many people come here to visit because the park can predict the eruption accurately and the intervals between the eruption are between 60 to 110 minutes. There are almost 150 geysers in this basin that also include the hot springs and fumaroles beside Old Faithful.
To walk around the boardwalks and to visit other geysers in the upper geyser basin, it will take around one to two hours. Make sure to take the 1.4-mile walk to the Morning Glory Pool which is one of the colorful thermal features in Yellowstone.
Things to do in the Old Faithful area
- Visit these historic areas- Old Faithful Historic District
- Hydrothermal Features- Aurum Geyser, Biscuit Basin, Black Sand Basin, Castle Geyser, Crested Pool, Daisy Geyser, Ear Spring, Geyser Hill, Giant Geyser, Grand Geyser, Grotto Geyser, Morning Glory Pool, Old Faithful Geyser, Riverside Geyser, Sapphire Pool, and Solitary Geyser
- Natural Features- Continental Divide
- Visitor Services- Old Faithful General Stores, Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge, Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
- Waterfalls- Kepler Cascades and Mystic Falls
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon was created by the amazing Yellowstone River. The most famous attractions of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone are its waterfalls, the upper falls, and the lower falls which look stunning. The lower falls of the canyon are almost 308 feet high which is one of the most photographed features when compared with all in Yellowstone. The lower falls are about 300 feet and the upper falls are about 109 feet. Do not forget to visit both the North and South sides of the Canyon because there are many vantage points. The experience in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is breathtaking.
Things to do in the Grand Canyon area
- Drives- Dunraven Pass, North Rim Drive, and South Rim Drive
- Hydrothermal Features- Mud Volcano
- Other Natural Features- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley, and Mount Washburn
- Visitor Services- Canyon Campground, Canyon Lodge, Canyon General Store, and Canyon Visitor Education Center
- Waterfalls- Lower Falls, Silver Cord Cascades, and Upper Falls
Hayden Valley is located centrally in the Yellowstone National Park. It is one of the most popular places to go to see the wildlife. If you drive along the broad valley, you will be able to see herds of buffaloes, bison, scattered elk and sometimes you see grizzly bears. You can also see ducks, Canadian geese, and pelicans in or near the Yellowstone River. There are many turnouts in the Haden Valley that offer views on both sides of the road and where you can park your vehicles to get a better view of the valley and its wildlife. Some of the turnouts are scenic overlooks where you can see the panoramic views of the valley below. The Hayden Valley Trail starts from Yellowstone Lake and takes you to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it shadows the Yellowstone River.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs, the park’s headquarters features some of the oldest buildings in the park. It also includes the designs which were from the days when the US Army was managing Yellowstone. Make sure to drop by the visitor center and have enough time to watch a film, browse the history exhibit, and visit the wildlife museum. The best part of Mammoth Hot Springs is the terrace drive. In this place, you can see the steaming hot water flowing over the travertine terraces that create a beautiful scene.
Mammoth Hot Springs has two sections, the Upper and Lower Terraces. And each section has many hot springs and different varieties of looking formations. This area of the park is the best way to look for elk. The best time to visit during the fall season.
Things to do in the Mammoth Hot Springs area
- Drives- Blacktail Plateau Drive and Upper Terrace Drive
- Visit these historic areas- Apollinaris Spring, Fort Yellowstone (historic US Army headquarters, now park headquarters), and Obsidian Cliff
- Hydrothermal Features- Boiling River, Canary Springs, and Mammoth Hot Springs
- Other Natural Features- Bunsen Peak, Mount Everts, Sheepeater Cliffs, and Swan Lake Flat
- Visitor Services- Albright Visitor Center, Indian Creek Campground, Mammoth Campground, Mammoth General Store, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
- Waterfalls- Rustic Falls, Undine Falls, and Wraith Falls
Yellowstone Lake is the largest impressive high altitude lake in the lower 48 states. If you go along the long shoreline, both through east and north, you will be able to see the snow-capped mountains rising across the lake. And during windy days, the ocean-like waves will break onto the shore. Make sure that you visit the place called ‘Lake Village’. And sit on the porch of the Lake Lodge to enjoy the view. Be sure to visit attractive places in this lake, Fishing Bridge, Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and the Eastside.
Things to do in the Fishing Bridge, Lake Village, Bridge Bay, and the East
- Drives- Gull Point Drive and Lake Butte Scenic Drive
- Hydrothermal Features- Mud Volcano and Steamboat Point
- Other Natural Features- Mary Bay, Natural Bridge, Sedge Bay, Storm Point, Sylvan Pass, and Yellowstone Lake
- Visitor Services- Bridge Bay Campground, Bridge Bay Marina, Fishing Bridge General Store, Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Lake General Store, Lake Hotel and Cabins, and Lake Lodge Cabins
Norris Geyser Basin
Norris Geyser Basin is the oldest but the most popular great basin in Yellowstone. It is the hottest geyser basin that contains rare acid geysers. Norris is the home to Steamboat and Echinus. There are numerous miles of boardwalks where you can explore many multi-colored thermal features. This basin comprises two different sections, the Porcelain Basin and the Back Basin. The Porcelain Basin is characterized by a lack of vegetation whereas the Back Basin is in the forest setting that attracts people. The most impressive Back Basin features the Steamboat which is the tallest in the world. You can see the elk and occasionally bison in this area.
Things to do in the Norris Geyser Basin
- Drives- Virginia Cascade Drive
- Visit these historic areas- Museum of the National Park Ranger
- Hydrothermal Features- Artists’ Paint Pot, Beryl Spring, Monument Geyser Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, Porcelain Springs, Roaring Mountain, and Steamboat Geyser
- Other Natural Features- Caldera Boundary (at Gibbon Falls) and Gibbon Meadows
- Visitor Services- Museum of the National Park Ranger, Norris Campground, and Norris Geyser Basin Museum
- Waterfalls- Gibbon Falls and Virginia Cascade
Tower Falls is the most famous waterfall in Yellowstone except the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon. This waterfall lies behind the General Store. You will have to take a short walk to see an overlook but you will have to take a steep hike down to the base of the waterfall. This place is popular during the winter season. It is accessible through the cross-country skis or snowshoes following the Roosevelt Junction to Tower Fall Road. Tower Fall is two miles south of Roosevelt or 17 miles north of Canyon. You will have many activities to do in the Tower-Roosevelt, the Northeast, Tower Fall, and Lamer Valley.
Things to do in the Lamar Valley, the Northeast, Tower Fall, and Tower–Roosevelt
- Visit these historic areas- Northeast Entrance
- Hydrothermal Features- Calcite Springs and Soda Butte
- Other Natural Features- Lamar Canyon, Lamar Valley, Pleasant Valley, and Specimen Ridge
- Visitor Services- Pebble Creek Campground, Roosevelt Lodge, Slough Creek Campground, Tower Fall Campground, and Tower Fall General Store
- Waterfalls- Tower Fall
Lower Geyser Basin
Lower Geyser Basin occurs over a large area that features regularly erupting geysers, a mud pool that attracts visitors, and the hot springs. It is the largest geyser basin in Yellowstone that covers up to 11 square miles approximately. The Upper Geyser Basin covers only one square mile. When comparing both the geyser basins, the Lower Geyser Basin tends to form a wide-spaced group because of more space. The most interesting place to explore is the Fountain Paint Pot area which is located in the Lower Geyser Basin. Make sure to explore this beautiful area.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin lies on the shores of Yellowstone Lake and it features some amazing thermal features. And it offers a great view of the lake. Even though this is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake and it contains a well-known geothermal feature, the Fishing Cone Geyser. The West Thumb Geyser Basin is also home to many other geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and it also includes the park’s deepest pool, the Abyss Pool. There are several hiking trails at the basin. You can see bison, bears, and elk frequently in this area. During the winter season, the basin is the favorite spot for snowmobilers and snow coaches.
Things to do in the West Thumb, Grant Village, and the South
- Hydrothermal Features- Abyss Pool, Fishing Cone, and West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Other Natural Features- Lewis Lake and West Thumb
- Visitor Services- Grant Village Campground, Grant Village General Store, Grant Village Lodge, Grant Village Marina, Grant Visitor Center, and West Thumb Information Station
- Waterfalls- Lewis Falls
Henry D. Washburn, the leader of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition that explored Yellowstone Park in 1870, was honoured with a mountain peak bearing his name. One of the most well-liked places to hike in Yellowstone is Mount Washburn. There are two trails that lead up the mountain; one begins at the Chittenden Road parking lot, and the other at the Dunraven Pass Trailhead. Both provide breathtaking views of the area, but due to their popularity, they can get crowded during the busiest time of year for tourists. The high elevation does have an impact on some hikers even though these trails are regarded as being fairly easy. These trails occasionally offer views of wild animals like bears and mountain goats.
Midway Geyser Basin
One of Yellowstone’s smallest basins is Midway, which is situated between the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins as its name implies. The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the park’s most popular geothermal feature, is also located there. This enormous hot spring, which is 37 metres (120 feet) deep, is well known for its vivid, surreal colouring. Its centre is a stunning cerulean colour that is beautiful on its own. It’s not alone, though. Instead, blazing reds, yellows, and oranges surround the blue. The former largest geyser in the world, Excelsior, is also located in this geyser basin. Sadly, this geyser hasn’t erupted since the 1880s despite once shooting water up to 300 feet in the air. However, it is still a thermal spring in operation.
This region of Yellowstone, sometimes referred to as America’s Serengeti, offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the park. The Lamar Valley, which is in Yellowstone’s northeastern region, is where visitors have the best chances of seeing wolves as well as large herds of buffalo. In this valley, there is usually at least one wolf pack and occasionally two. In fact, the Druids, one of the park’s most well-known packs, once lived in the Lamar Valley. Elk, coyotes, pronghorn antelope, and bears are other animals that are frequently seen in the Lamar Valley. Early in the morning or late at night are the best times to see bears and wolves.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Chances are, if you have ever seen a postcard from Yellowstone, it featured the Grand Prismatic. Although walking through the boardwalks is about as impressive, viewing the Grand Prismatic is best from above.
One of the top attractions in the Midway Geyser Basin is the Grand Prismatic. The largest hot spring in the country is this one. We also discovered that it covers about 1.32 acres and is deeper than a 10-story building. The thermal feature’s captivating blue and orange hues make for stunning photographs that will help you remember your trip to Yellowstone. You can see the colours that various bacterial species have caused. The ideal time to visit is on a warm, sunny day.
As one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions, you might have to wait for a parking spot and prepare to share the boardwalk with other visitors. If the parking lot is full, there is additional parking on the side of the road. It wasn’t as crowded when we stopped late one night as we were leaving the park as it had been when we had driven by earlier. However, the colours won’t be as vibrant if you go later in the day. The Grand Prismatic becomes steam-covered at cooler temperatures, making it more difficult to see the colours.
Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome on the boardwalk that passes through the Grand Prismatic. If you’re concerned that your young children might fall off the boardwalk, you should bring a stroller. The Opal Pool, Turquoise Pool, and Excelsior Geyser are also nearby. The Imperial Geyser is yet another stunning geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin. It is close to a stunning pool with steaming blue water.
Morning Glory Pool
The Morning Glory Pool is our favourite sight to see in the Upper Geyser Basin. The 23-foot-deep pool has lovely blue, green, brown, and yellow colouring. The Morning Glory flower inspired the naming of this pool. Keep in mind that you should never throw anything into any of Yellowstone’s springs or pools. Vandalism has previously been a problem at this pool. Coins, sticks, trash, logs, and other debris have been thrown into the pools by various people. Its colour and temperature have both been impacted by this. The pool’s orange and yellow colour was previously restricted to the pool’s outer edge, but vandalism such as throwing objects into the water has caused the bacteria to spread inside the pool.
Our preferred view point for the Yellowstone Grand Canyon is Artist Point. It offers stunning vistas of the Lower Falls. One of the park’s most popular viewpoints for photos is this one.
The Gardner River’s Boiling River is a section where a significant hot spring enters, raising the water’s temperature to that of a bathtub. About two miles north of Mammoth, right inside the park’s North Entrance, is where this river segment is located.
If you’re planning to swim, don’t forget to bring your water shoes and towel. Be careful because there are no lifeguards at the river. One of the top family-friendly activities in Yellowstone is this. Due to rising water levels, the River is closed in the spring and early summer. You can change in restrooms close to the parking lot.
Great Fountain Geyser
The Great Fountain Geyser will be a great reward for some advance planning. The daily eruption of this geyser lasts about an hour. At the visitor centre, you can learn when the Great Fountain Geyser will next erupt. There is a four-hour window for it to erupt because even with their best estimates, it is plus or minus a couple of hours.
Calcite Spring Overlook
If you’re looking for one of the unusual things to do in Yellowstone, Calcite Spring Overlook is a great place to stop. It is a short and simple stop with stunning views of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. The distance to this stunning view is not very great. Spend about 30 minutes taking in the scenery at this stop.
The park is filled with mud pots. The majority of the mud pots are located close to the western entrance, not far from West Yellowstone, Montana. If it has an odour of rotten eggs, you have reached one. Gaseous hydrogen sulphide is to blame for this. The short loop that passes the Dragon’s Mouth and the Mud Volcano is the best place to find the mud pots. These are authentic items. The Black Dragon’s Cauldron exploded in 1950, uprooting trees by the roots and smothering the entire area in mud. This trail loops for 0.7 miles.
Stop at Gibbon Fall before continuing on to the Norris Geyser Basin. A stunning waterfall can be found by the side of the road. Although it is relatively wide, the waterfall is only 84 feet tall. The distance from the waterfall to the viewing area is only a short stroll.