Part 3: Today, I’lll take you on a journey through Yellowstone, sharing with you some of the must-see sights that will leave you breathless and in awe. Yellowstone is much more than Old Faithful, plus the nearby Grand Tetons are offer adventure of their own. So . . . giddy up as we use to say at the Dude Ranch and get ready to ride.
1. Geysers galore at yellowstone
These natural wonders are like nothing else on Earth, and Yellowstone is home to some of the most impressive in the world. The most famous of these is, of course, Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes or so, sending a plume of steam and water over 100 feet into the air. Stop by the nearby station for times or ask a ranger. But remember, Old Faithful is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. And in my opinion, while it is impressive, the many smaller geyers that you can get much closer to are an equally amazing site. There’s something truly magical about watching these natural fountains erupting against the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains or being close enough to feel the heat as it drifts upward from them. But don’t be fooled, while their waters look cool and refreshing, they are deadly. Never attempt to walk out on the surface around them – it will likely collapse and you will not be rescued, but instead boiled to death in seconds.
2. Grand canyon of the Yellowstone
Another must-see is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Yes – there is actually a second Grand Canyon in the United States! This breathtaking canyon is over 20 miles long, and the Yellowstone River runs through it, creating a series of waterfalls that will leave you speechless. The canyon walls are a kaleidoscope of colors, with shades of red, orange, and the famous yellow from which the park gets its name. Arrive around noon and you’ll the colors come to life as they glow in the sunlight. The best views are from the two parking area overlooks that parallel the canyon. But for those seeking more adventure, I strongly suggest a hike along the canyon rim or a boat tour down the river to get up close and personal with this natural wonder.
Of course, no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without viewing the wide variety of wildlife the inhabits the park. We were actually welcomed by a massive herd of bison (around a 100) as we entered the park our first day. It was quite a site to see them lumber across the roadways. Yellowstone is home to some of the most magnificent creatures in North America, including bison, elk, moose, and grizzly bears. And there’s a good chance you’ll encounter them all, as we did. There’s something truly humbling about seeing these animals in their natural habitat, roaming free and unencumbered. Just remember to keep a safe distance and respect their space, as they are wild animals and can be dangerous if provoked.
4. Mammoth hot springs
Another sight not to be missed is the Mammoth Hot Springs. These terraces of travertine limestone are a geological wonder, with pools of steaming water and colorful mineral deposits that make you feel like you’re on another planet. You may first think a fresh icey snow has fallen as you enter towards the springs, or that a giant waterfall has instantly frozen, while in motion. It is quite spectacular. But, be aware, the hot springs are constantly changing, with new formations and colors appearing all the time, so every visit is a unique experience.
5. The lodge
The iconic Yellowstone National Park Lodge, situated in the heart of the park, is a testament to the grandeur of the American West. The Lodge was built in 1903 and has since been expanded and renovated to offer modern amenities without losing its rustic charm.
The Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from cozy cabins to spacious suites. The rooms are tastefully decorated in a style that evokes the spirit of the West, with rich wood accents and warm colors that make you feel right at home. But it’s not just the accommodations that make the Lodge special. The Lodge is also home to several dining options, including the historic Old Faithful Inn Dining Room and the rustic and casual Bear Paw Deli. The food is delicious, hearty, and satisfying, with many dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients. This makes it a natural mid-day stop on your adventures.
One of the highlights of the Lodge is the stunning view of the surrounding landscape. From the porch of the Lodge, you can see the vast expanse of the Yellowstone wilderness, with its rugged mountains, dense forests, and sprawling meadows. It’s a view that will take your breath away and leave you feeling connected to nature in a way that few other places can. And best of all, you’re free to wander most of the lodge without being a paying guest. So soak the large hand-hewn wood timbers used to create its skeleton as you stand in the atrium. It is a site you’ll never see elsewhere. Whether you’re staying for a night or a week, the Lodge is a perfect home base for exploring all that the park has to offer.
6. Lamar valley
And last but certainly not least, there’s the Lamar Valley. This beautiful valley is known as the “Serengeti of North America,” and it’s easy to see why. The vast expanse of grassland is home to herds of bison, elk, and pronghorn antelope, as well as predators like wolves and grizzly bears. The valley is also home to some of the best stargazing in the world, with a clear view of the Milky Way and countless constellations. But what makes it so special – its isolation from the main part of the park – also makes it difficult to reach. Flooding and road construction often limit access. And its a full and very long days drive there and back again. So plan accordingly and take a picnic lunch and plenty of fresh cool water.
READ MORE on Yellowstone National Park:
Part 1: 5 key things to prep before going to Yellowstone National Park
Part 2: Beware the dangers of Yellowstone National Park