Yellowstone National Park has the honor of being America’s first national park, creating an idea that’s since spread worldwide. The park is known for having the world’s largest collection of geysers – most famous amongst them being Old Faithful – that draw visitors by the millions. But Yellowstone is more than just these majestic spouts. Let’s take a closer look at one of the world’s greatest national parks.
You won’t be lacking for a flight to come visit Yellowstone as the majority of airlines fly into the area all year. One of your closest options is to fly into Cody, Wyoming, to get to the park. Bozeman, Montana, also has an airport that would work just as well, but both are pricy and can have multiple connecting flights. We suggest flying into Billings, Montana, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming – both airports still come with fares on the high side, but the amount of stops during the trip are minimal.
Check out our guide on when to visit Yellowstone so you pick the time that’s best for you!
Where to stay
The lion’s share of Yellowstone National Park lies in the northwest corner of Wyoming, but there are plenty of hotels to choose from along the state line and in-state. Jackson Hole is always going to be a solid choice with four-star lodgings like Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole and Spring Creek Ranch giving guests comfort at a reasonable price. Yellowstone also has nine different lodges within the park so you can stay right in the heart of its natural beauty.
Avoiding the crowds
Dealing with crowds is just something you’ve got to do while visiting Yellowstone National Park, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for when they’re a bit thinner. Peak season for the park is July and August, so try to plan your Yellowstone vacation between March to May or from September to November. Both of those stretches boast cooler temperatures and are usually quieter since families with kids are still at home with school in session. One thing to be aware of no matter the time of year is the park can run on the chilly side. So much so that it’s not unheard of for temps to dip into the 30s in the middle of the summer.
What to see
Geysers, geysers, geysers
We mentioned earlier that Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest collection of geysers anywhere in the world, meaning there’s no way you can visit and not take some time to check some of them out. From the famed Old Faithful (pictured above at sunrise) to Lone Star Geyser, there are over 300 of these geothermal spouts shooting off around the whole of the park.
Giant Prismatic Spring
Aside from the geysers, Yellowstone is home to over 10,000 hydrothermal features. And one of those features happens to be the largest hot spring in the States and third overall in the world. The Giant Prismatic Spring gets its distinctive color from pigmented bacteria found in the water. By the way, the water in the spring is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so don’t think about jumping in for a swim.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
You thought Arizona had cornered the market on grand canyons, didn’t you? The truth is Yellowstone National Park has its very own version of that natural wonder. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River may lack originality when it comes to its name, but more than makes up for it in grandeur. This canyon was carved out over thousands of years from all types of erosion. The result is a canyon that’s almost 1,000 feet deep, approximately 20 miles long and with a width of around half a mile. The Yellowstone River that flows at the bottom of the canyon is known as the country’s longest undammed river, giving kids something giggle-worthy to say and still be factually correct. This area is one of the best places to go hiking in all of the park, and really the country, so don’t seeing it for yourself.
_Photo by Michael Privorotsky/Flickr._
If you take a trip directly into the heart of the park you’ll find yourself at Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake on the grounds. Lewis and Clark’s scout John Colter first visited the lake in the early 1800s, and has been a favorite of anglers and boaters alike in recent memory. Aside from great fishing the lake is also known as one of the best places to see the park’s animal residents, which includes grizzly bears, bald eagles and bison. Why do the creatures flock here? A lot of it has to do with the geothermic activity going on below the surface that keep the shallow portions of the lake’s southern shores unfrozen through the year.
Photo by U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr.