Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, is one of America’s oldest and most beautiful national parks open to the public. The park uniquely spans three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone features a depth of biodiversity that makes preservation of this global treasure a high priority. Visitors to Yellowstone National Park often see large mammalian wildlife like grizzly bears and elk roaming among lively streams, spectacular waterfalls, and mysterious petrified forests. Here are the top 10 places to visit in and around Yellowstone National Park.
1. Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone National Park has over 500 geysers, and the most famous one in the park is Old Faithful located in Wyoming. Old Faithful got its name because of its consistent eruptions that happen daily with nearly 90 percent accuracy. When the underground hot spring that feeds Old Faithful experiences the height of heated pressure, the geyser erupts spewing out water and steam at over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs in Wyoming, which features a large complex of hot springs streaming over beautiful, rugged travertine terrace steps, has probably been the inspiration of many spa-style bathrooms. However, visitors may only tour and view the amazing hot springs from a distance because the boiling hot spring water does not lend itself to a hot tub soak.
3. Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley, located in northwestern Wyoming, is a picturesque expanse of land tucked away among the Absaroka mountains. Situated along the Lamar River, this valley is a favorite with visitors who enjoy wildlife watching. The sweeping views of the mountains coupled with the sparkling nature of the river make this spot perfect for day hiking and overnight camping.
4. Yellowstone Lake
This lake sits at over 7,000 feet above sea level and is the largest body of water at Yellowstone National Park. The freshwater lake is what some might call an angler’s paradise as various trout varieties, like lake and cutthroat trout, are plentiful there.
5. Norris Geyser Basin
Thrill-seekers visit the dynamic Norris Geyser Basin because not only does it have some very active geysers, but it also sits on a part of a large active volcano that just so happens to lie at an intersection of earthquake fault lines. Because of the abundant seismic activity that triggers geothermal changes, there are nearly always new geysers to see at Norris Geyser Basin.
6. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which was purportedly formed over many years through the area’s volcanic and glacial actions, presents visitors with stunning views of Yellowstone National Park complete with steep canyon cliffs and dramatic waterfalls. Water cascading from the Lower Falls descends over 300 feet, and park visitors get a close up look from Inspiration Point.
7. Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley is a fertile, postcard-pretty area that sits astride the Yellowstone river. The area’s unique geothermal features and the river attract a variety of protected wildlife. Hikers reach the area via two different trails, and they are likely to encounter herds of elk and bison as well as interesting waterfowl.
8. West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin looks out over Yellowstone Lake, and its underground hot springs are known to feed the lake. This geyser basin is one to visit for summer lake activities, spectacular sightseeing, and exploring the underwater wonders of Yellowstone Lake. Some of the geothermal pools at West Thumb Geyser Basin possess wonderful colors because of the presence of micro-organisms, but those hot springs with heated flows near boiling point normally produce waters that are crystalline blue.
9. Tower Fall
The Tower Fall in Wyoming is one of Yellowstone Park’s most scenic waterfalls. The height of the waterfall is over 130 feet, and a perpetual rainbow is seen when the sun’s rays reflect off of the icy water spray at the fall’s descent.
10. Lower Geyser Basin
The Lower Geyser Basin contains an area housing Yellowstone’s largest group of mud pots. The rest of its geothermal features are hot spring pools and geysers of all shapes and configurations. Most of the geysers erupt regularly while others are unpredictable. The Great Fountain Geyser displays an hour-long eruption conducted in phases.