I have visited Yellowstone twice, in the summer of 2009 and summer of 2013 and each time was a little different and both times were breathtaking and unimaginably spectacular. I believe Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful places in this world and I hope to go for many more visits in the future. The national park is very colorful and varied in its natural beauty. You will see waterfalls, rivers, mountains, hot springs, all hues of orange, green and blue. You might see bison and elk only a few feet away from you, and if you are lucky, you will run into a black bear or even a grizzly bear. In 2009, we saw a grizzly bear from a safe distance and in 2013; there was a black bear grazing on a meadow, just feet away from the hotel we were staying at for the night. We also saw a pack of wolves from a safe distance.
Even though you can see most of the park in one day driving through it (one long day full of getting in and out of the car to get to all of the spectacular view points), I would strongly suggest staying for at least two days. I promise you, you will not regret it. And if you have more time, there is enough to do for a week or even an entire summer. And if you are young and looking for a summer job, I honestly could not imagine working in a more beautiful place than Yellowstone.
In Yellowstone National Park you can’t go wrong with your trip, however depending on what you are interested in seeing, these are I believe some of the highlights:
Lamar River Valley
Here you will see most of the bison and elk grazing on the luscious green grass. Sometimes, you may even see some wolves. It is a must see for those who are interested in wildlife, because this section honestly has most of the animals in plane view – especially in the morning and late afternoon. However, if you are able to visit for only a day, driving through Lamar Valley will likely prevent you from seeing some of the other beautiful views and Yellowstone’s features.
Old Faithful Geyser
Is the most famous geyser in the park and very likely in the entire world. It is located in the Upper Geyser Basin and erupts with a very predictable frequency approximately every 91 minutes (+/- a few). It is not the largest geyser, the largest one is the Steamboat Geyser, but its predictable – on schedule eruptions make it one of the most frequently visited sites in the US. There is also a big lodge just meters from it, including a restaurant an ice-cream shop and a souvenirs shop, so if you happen to get there just after its last eruption, do not despair, you will have something to do while you are waiting.
Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon and Inspiration Point
Grand Canyon (the real one) is undoubtedly an incredible place, however, I would argue that seeing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is spectacular in its own right. What makes it special, is the ability to look in one direction and seeing a beautiful waterfall (when standing at Inspiration point) and turning the other direction and seeing the river cutting its way through a canyon.
Mammoth Hot Springs
A large complex of hot springs on a hill made up of travertine offers some incredible views of natural beauty you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. The water that runs through here is about 170 °F (80 °C) and comes from the Norris Geyser Basin. Mineral sediments that have been deposited here over thousands of years are responsible for the white color and the orange colors are created by algae living in the warm pools.
Grand Prismatic Spring
The true beauty of this spring can be perhaps only appreciated from a birds eye view, it is still incredible to walk by this spring and see the palate of colors it has to offer.
Fountain Paint Pots
Just when you think you have seen it all, when you have seen all the waterfalls, rivers, hot springs and other unimaginably colorful places of Yellowstone, you will find the Fountain Pots and fall in love with the plain white substance bubbling like a boiling pot of paint. And if you are a photographer, I bet you will take many pictures, trying to capture the perfect moment, when the bubbles burst, creating a beautiful shape (Note: the fountain paint pots seem to bubble more vigorously when there is more water in the ground).
I personally have to say that I could have skipped this lake and it is not high on my list of priorities to go back to, however, it is still beautiful and it is one of the largest, high altitude lakes in the U.S. What makes it special is something that cannot be seen, the lake is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera – the largest super volcano on the continent and yes, it is considered an active volcano. In the last two million years, this super volcano has erupted several times with tremendous force. This active super volcano is the reason for all of the geothermal activity found in Yellowstone, which together accounts for about a half of the entire world’s geothermal features (at least 10,000 are found in Yellowstone).
Last, but not least, here is a little bit of the rich history of this beautiful park. Yellowstone National park is located primarily in the State of Wyoming, though it also reaches into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 1872 and is widely regarded as the world’s first national park. The protected area spans 3,468 square miles (8,983 km2). Happy exploring! I can honestly promise you that visiting Yellowstone will be one of the most memorable trips of your life and you won’t regret it.