Yellowstone is the most popular Park in the United States. Known for its impressive geysers and large herds of wildlife, you could easily spend a week in the park.
With so many things to see at Yellowstone, it can be difficult to decide which attractions to add to your itinerary. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve listed 6 of the most stunning things to see at Yellowstone National Park.
History of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park was founded in 1872 and was the first national park created both in the United States and worldwide. The park spans the states of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Yellowstone National Park was the main driving force behind the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.
The lands of Yellowstone cover nearly 3,500 square miles. Within the area are rivers, lakes, canyons, mountains, geysers, hot springs, and more. Wildlife, such as bison, elk, wolves, and bears, roam the grounds and are often seen on hiking trails. Each square mile provides stunning things to see at Yellowstone for all guests.
Near the North Entrance of the park, the Heritage and Research Centre holds a collection of artefacts for visitors to explore. These include preserved local plant species, a research library, and an archaeology lab.
6 Beautiful Things to see at Yellowstone
1: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is a large gorge downstream from Yellowstone Falls. It is the oldest canyon in the park, and the first written descriptions date back to 1870. The Canyon spans nearly 40 kilometres and is 370 metres deep.
The canyon was most likely formed over 150,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone. The eruption caused faults in the rock, which eventually collapsed. Over centuries, water eroded through the rock to create the canyon we see today.
The hike to the canyon typically takes 90 minutes, and the trail is open all year. If you’re interested in a longer hike with a stunning view at the end, this Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the best things to see at Yellowstone.
2: Hayden Valley
One of the most popular things to see at Yellowstone National Park, Hayden Valley, is the only place bison have continuously inhabited since prehistoric times. There are nearly 1,500 bison that call Hayden Valley home.
Hayden Valley features a road that runs through the area. If you plan to drive along this park area, be prepared for traffic jams. The bison are known to walk onto the road and block cars for up to an hour.
3: Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in the park. It covers over 130 square miles and gets up to 120 metres deep. In prehistoric times, Native American inhabited the land around Yellowstone Lake for over 10,000 years.
The name Yellowstone Lake was coined by explorers Lewis and Clark during their expedition across America. It came from the colourful stone that is common in the area. The cutthroat trout is one of the native species in Yellowstone Lake. In the mid-1990s, the park began taking action to remove invasive species from the lake to help boost local species’ numbers.
Yellowstone Lake is too cold to swim in, even during summer. For this reason, guests can take guided boat tours instead. Private fishing tours are also available at the lake. With numerous trails around the lake and informative tours, Yellowstone Lake is one of the most beautiful things to see at Yellowstone.
4: Grand Prismatic Spring
The stunning Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, and its awe-inspiring colours make it one of the best things to see at Yellowstone National Park. In fact, it is the most photographed landmark at the park.
The hot spring gets its colours from bacteria that live within it. The inner part of the ring is a deep blue which fades into pretty greens and yellows. The outer edges of the spring feature a bright orange colour as the water gets cooler.
If you want to avoid crowds at the Grand Prismatic Spring, it is best to go early in the morning. However, the colours become the most vibrant on warm afternoons. No matter what time you visit, the Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most picturesque things to see at Yellowstone.
5: Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful is the most iconic thing to see at Yellowstone National Park. The geyser has international fame and is the most predictable geyser in the park. Old Faithful was the first geyser to be named in 1970, just 2 years before the park opened.
The Old Faithful Geyser erupts approximately every 90 minutes. Around the perimeter of the geyser, the park has benches available for spectators. If you want to be near the front row, it is best to arrive at Old Faithful half an hour before the eruption.
6: Mount Washburn
The incredible views from Mount Washburn are widely considered to be one of the best things to see at Yellowstone. Trails lead visitors from Mount Washburn’s base to its peak over 3,000 metres up.
The trails to the peak are among the most travelled in the park and can be crowded on warm days. If you want to have the trail to yourself, it is best to go in the mornings or on colder days.
Once hikers reach the summit of Mount Washburn, they are greeted by a fire lookout tower. The first floor of the lookout tower features a visitor centre, and an observation deck on the second floor is open to the public.
The trek up Mount Washburn takes between 2 and 3 hours one way, so it is definitely a commitment. However, if you have the time to reach the summit, the impressive views are definitely one of the best things to see at Yellowstone National Park.
There are Endless Things to see at Yellowstone National Park
Since the park opened to the public in 1872, visitors from across the country and worldwide have travelled to see its beauty. Yellowstone is home to over 500 geysers, 10,000 hot springs, and thousands of animals.
Whether you’re planning a relaxing day in nature or aiming to tackle the hours-long hikes, there are limitless stunning things to see at Yellowstone. With so much to do and see, filling out a day’s itinerary is easy.
If you’re planning a trip to the United States, check out these USA travel tips.
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