Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, was founded in 1872 as the first National Park. Why a National Park? Because Wyoming and Montana weren’t states yet! But what a great place to start the National Park concept, the first of its kind in the world. Yellowstone is unique as the home of the world’s largest concentration of geysers, bubbling mudpots and other geothermal phenomenon.
Visitor Rating (write your own review below)
Fun for All
|Scenery||Mostly mountain forests and meadows|
|Uniqueness||Phenomenal concentration of geysers, hot pools and mudpots|
|Wildlife||Bears, buffalo and moose are plentiful|
|Diversity||You’ll simply never get bored here|
ILNP Park Review
In a Word “Delightful”
“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.” -Psalms 114:7-8
Our Visit My family, including my wife, mom, dad, aunt, brother and sister, all took a week long vacation to northwestern Wyoming to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks during July. We actually stayed in a nice cabin in Victor, Idaho to save money, and after a day in the Grand Teton NP, we packed 7 adults in a 7 passenger van and headed to Yellowstone.
Our Weather Couldn’t have been more beautiful! Blue skies and high 80s both days.
Overall Impression Yellowstone is one of the most amazing places on earth. Nowhere else can you find the concentration of geothermal phenomenon that exists in this small corner of the world. Every day, all day long, Yellowstone’s delightful geysers put on a show more incredible than anything man made. If this weren’t enough, there are enough deer, bison and bear to ensure everyone can get up close and personal with wildlife. The days you spend in Yellowstone will make you beam contently for weeks and leave you waiting to return someday.
Favorite Spot Upper Geyser Basin
Minimum Time Required In about 4 hours, you can drive a quick loop through the park and stop for a couple of sights along the road, but having only 4 hours would be tragic. If you only stop one place, make it the Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Lodge and several beautiful thermal pools.
A Longer Visit We would recommend two days minimum. Even two days wasn’t enough time to see everything. The first day, we came in the West Entrance and headed immediately for the geysers. We visited the Norris Geyser Basin first. At each geyser basin is a series of pathways which allow you to get up close and personal with the geysers, which come in many shapes and sizes from gushing 60-foot behemoths to little spitting fountains. Norris Geyser Basin was the least impressive, but it also changes more than any of the other basins, many times overnight, so what was unimpressive for us may be amazing for your visit. Norris is also home to Steamboat Geyser, the tallest active geyser in the world–unfortunately, major eruptions are rare and totally unpredictable.
The next stop was the Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful. Old Faithful lives up to its reputation. It isn’t the biggest geyser in the Park, but it is the biggest one that erupts several times per day (about every 70 minutes). In between visits to the Old Faithful grandstands, you can wander the pathways through the Upper Geyser Basin which take you by smaller geysers and several stunning blue, gold and orange pools, the most spectacular of which is Morning Glory Pool. We finished our first day with a quick jaunt through the Grand Prismatic Spring area and Lower Geyser Basin where we saw (and smelled) the Fountain Paint Pots and watched the highly active Clepsydra Geyser sputter for the entire time we were there.
On the second day, we visited the impressive Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with its Upper and Lower Falls, Hayden Valley to see some wildlife and the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The neat thing about the geyser basins is that each has significantly different feel. West Thumb lives on the edge of Yellowstone Lake, so many of its features mingle with the lake water. If we would have had one more day, we would have gone to Mammoth Hot Springs and the North end of the park and the Lower Geyser Basin.
Suggestions Get off the road! To really see the wonders of Yellowstone, you have to hike just a little. The hikes are short, not too challenging and very rewarding. You’ll be happier if you plan at least two days. If you have to cut your trip short, the “must see” is the Upper Geyser Basin. Not only is this home to Old Faithful and the magnificent Old Faithful Lodge, but the area is littered with smaller geysers and beautiful colored pools. Although the geysers are certainly the focus, the second “must see” is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with it’s magnificent Upper and Lower Falls–this is well worth the detour.
One note about the geothermal features–they are extremely delicate! Today’s Park management does a good job of warning visitors of the delicate nature of the pools and geysers and strictly prohibits any foreign objects from being thrown into the pools and geysers. For some areas, it’s a little too late. For example, the Minute Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin used to erupt every 60 seconds until some visitors threw debris into its vent decades ago; now it just sits and sputters. Also, the Morning Glory Pool, arguably the most beautiful in the Park, is cooling and changing colors gradually because its throat has become partially blocked with coins and other debris thrown in by ignorant visitors. Don’t add to the mess, respect the signs, and don’t be afraid to say something to other visitors who might not be as courteous.
Don’t worry too much about finding the wildlife, they’ll find you, especially the bison. Bear sightings, while regular, are certainly not guaranteed. News of bear sightings travels fast, so if you see 100 cars and people all parked on the side of the road, chances are there’s a bear to be seen nearby. Just stop and see what the fuss is all about.
Just a warning, one of the things that never comes through in pictures is the smell of Yellowstone! When you first hike out to a geyser basin, your nose is assaulted with a strong sulfur smell. After a while, you get used to it and it doesn’t bother you, but just be prepared. If you want to familiarize yourself with some of Yellowstone’s features before you go, take the virtual tours under the “nature tours” section of the Yellowstone multimedia page on the official NPS site.
Stories Sorry, This Car is Full!
Nearby Towns West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Pahaska, Jackson, Cody (Wyoming)
Other Nearby Attractions Grand Teton NP, Jackson Hole Ski Area, Grand Targhee Ski Area, Snow King Ski Area, Snake River (white water rafting)
Official NPS Website Yellowstone NP
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