Why you MUST Visit Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park spans 3 of the States of America (Wyoming, Montana & Idaho) and has a long history as the Country’s first National Park. However, for me, the park was relatively unknown compared to the bigger, more iconic National Parks in America such as the Grand Canyon.
These attractions were my favourite picks of Yellowstone and the main reasons that you should include a trip to Yellowstone in your next vacation to the States.
Midway Geyser Basin
Yellowstone’s Midway geyser basin features of a series of hot springs located along a half mile boardwalk trail. These include the turquoise pool, the opal pool, the grand prismatic spring and the excelsior geyser. Out of these, the grand prismatic spring is arguably the best attraction as it spans 61 metres wide, has a temperate of about 70C (due to heat from the magma of an active volcano). The name ‘prismatic’ means beautifully coloured which certainly rings true as the intense blue centre with yellow, orange and brown colours encircling the hot spring are a sight to behold. The yellow-brownish colouring surrounding the hot spring is caused by microorganisms whose pigment allows them to create energy from the sunlight. You should allocate between 30 minutes and 2 hours to explore the area depending on how much time you wish to spend soaking up the natural beauty of the area and taking beautiful photographs!
Old Faithful is an impressive geyser located in Yellowstone & one of the park’s main attractions. Unlike many of the geysers in the park, the geyser erupts every 35 to 120 minutes. If you want to know when the next eruption will be occurring, the predictions are conveniently located in the visiter centre (+-10 mins). While waiting for Old Faithful’s next eruption, the visitor centre is a nice way to spend some time learning about the geysers in the National Park. If you would like to get a seat to watch Old Faithful, it is advisable to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the geyser’s eruption as the viewing area fills up quickly. Old Faithful is definitely worth an hour of time as it provides a spectacular display of natural beauty.
Upper Geyser Basin
The Upper Geyser Basin is a series of geysers and hot springs which can be reached via a short walk from Old Faithful. It is particularly famous for having the largest concentration of geysers in the world. If you wish to see all the geysers on the boardwalk, allocate 1 – 2 hours of time. Some of the geysers are somewhat dormant, that is, they may not go off for months on end. One geyser on this walk, the Grand Geyser rivals Old Faithful (and in my opinion provides a better performance). This geyser is the tallest predictable geyser known. This geyser only erupts every 7 – 15 hours so it is necessary to plan your visit carefully. For a list of eruption times in the National park to plan your visit see this website.
Lamar Valley was a beautiful scenic drive which will not only have you transfixed with the amazing scenery but provided us the most access to wildlife in the National Park. In this area we saw coyotes, black bears, bison and deer right off the side of the road. Every couple hundred of metres, cars were pulling over to get photographs of the wildlife. A good tip is to bring binoculars because sometimes the wildlife is close to the vehicle however, sometimes the wildlife is a bit of a distance so you need binoculars to get a decent look! We found the best time to view the wildlife is just before sunset. This area is a must see and truly one of the most awe-inspiring natural landscapes of the park.
Another scenic valley drive in Yellowstone is Hayden Valley. Here you will also see a great deal of wildlife. Watching the animals roaming the valley is truly a great experience to witness. However, if you have only time for Lamar or Hayden Valley, I would chose Lamar as the area is more picturesque and from what I experienced has a higher density of wildlife including bears.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone arguably boasts the best views of the National Park. If you want to just enjoy the beautiful, dramatic view, unlike other National Parks, it requires no hiking and can be seen at Lookout Point. On the other hand, if you enjoy a good hike, you can hike down to get a closer look at the bottom of the falls. The natural beauty of this waterfall displaying shades of yellow, red, orange and green was amazing to see.
Artist Point is another fantastic different viewpoint of the waterfall in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It is located on a cliff on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As it’s name suggests, it is absolutely picture perfect & sometimes you can actually witness artists painting the falls. A must see in Yellowstone! The area has great accessibility as it is only a short walk away from the parking lot.