Yellowstone is known for its red-tinged canyon walls and awe-inspiring natural wonders like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, but you can’t miss exploring some of the park’s hiking trails and basins for striking views of the park’s waterfalls, forests and alpine lakes.
1. Old Faithful.
The world’s most renowned geyser is a must-see for every Yellowstone visitor. Although it isn’t the largest geyser in the world, Old Faithful’s eruptions are definitely awe-inspiring, averaging around 130 feet high. Recent visitors enjoyed seeing Old Faithful, although some felt it wasn’t as impressive as other Yellowstone geysers. Many, however, said this geyser is worth checking out. Despite it’s fairly predictable schedule, Old Faithful’s eruptions occasionally occur sooner than expected, so consider arriving early.
2. Grand Canyon Of Yellowstone.
Formed over thousands of years of erosion caused by wind, water and other natural forces, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary attraction in the Canyon Village area and one of the park’s most popular hiking spots. Just as remarkable as the canyon’s terra-cotta hued cliff walls is its river, which is the longest undammed river in the country, meandering for more than 600 miles through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.
3. Yellowstone Lake.
Sitting in the heart of Yellowstone’s West Thumb area is Yellowstone Lake, the park’s largest body of water and the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. For panoramic views, travelers suggest driving around this lake. When the weather is warmer, many say a picnic lunch by the water’s edge can’t be beat.
4. Grand Prismatic Spring.
The Midway Geyser Basin’s Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, approximately 370 feet in size and around 121 feet deep. But its rainbow waters are what really make it fascinating. This natural wonder is one of the park’s most photographed sights, so expect crowds when you visit. You may find fewer visitors if you arrive early, but fog is common until late in the morning on cooler days, so travelers recommend arriving around 10 a.m.
5. Hayden Valley.
One of the best places to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone’s fascinating wildlife is Hayden Valley. This lush valley north of Yellowstone Lake is a highly visited gathering place for bison, elk, coyotes and grizzly bears. While you can get a good view of the valley from the Grand Loop Road, you need to get out your car for the best perspective.
6. Norris Geyser Basin.
Old Faithful may be Yellowstone’s most well-known geyser, but this geothermal hot spot in the Norris area is the park’s oldest and hottest. From its boardwalks, visitors can see rare acid geysers like Echinus Geyser, as well as the tallest active geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser. The basin’s geysers can be visited 24 hours a day during the summer season.
7. Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
Those who want to learn about Yellowstone wildlife in a more controlled environment should take a break from the park and head to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. It offers a diverse selection of hands-on activities and programs, such as the Keeper Kids program, which gives children the chance to learn about grizzly bear behavior while a naturalist and animal keeper usher them into a bear habitat to observe how bears hunt for food.