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Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs, © Can Stock / Keifer

Old Faithful Geyser

The Old Faithful Geyser is the best known attraction at Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful Geyser usually erupts every half hour, but the timing isn’t exact. The geyser shouts out about 5,000 gallons of water to a height of more than 100 feet. The entire process takes a couple minutes, so it’s easy to miss. The Old Faithful Inn and the Visitor Education Center are conveniently located right beside the Old Faithful. A ring of bench seating helps visitors wait for the spectacle at a close, but safe distance.

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful, © Can Stock / smontgom65

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone includes the Upper and Lower Yellowstone River Falls. The Lower Falls are much higher, but narrower too. Stop at the Visitor Education Center on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and walk the rim trails. From the trail you can see the Lower Falls at Lookout Point and the Yellowstone Canyon at Grand View. You can also get a great view of the Yellowstone Canyon at Inspiration Point. Then drive across the bridge to the South Rim. Hike down more than 300 steep steps on Uncle Tom’s Trail to the base of the Lower Falls. Finish off by driving or hiking to Artist Point for another view of the Lower Falls and the Yellowstone River.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, @ Pixabay / skeeze

Mammoth Hot Springs – calcium (travertine) deposits create ever changing pool formations and colors. Stop at the Albright Visitor Center and take the self guided trail around Fort Yellowstone, which the US Army used to protect the area before it became a national park.

Geyser Basins – West Thumb Geyser Basin at Yellowstone Lake, Lower Geyser Basin with Fountain Paint Pot, Midway Geyser Basin with the Grand Prismatic Spring, Upper Geyser Basin with Old Faithful, Morning Glory Pool and Belgian Pool, Norris Basin with the Steamboat Geyser. Old Faithful is not the most powerful geyser in the park, but it’s the only predictable one. Get a map from the Park Service, so you know where to look for all the hot springs, mud pots and geysers.

LeHardy’s Rapids

LeHardy’s Rapids are on the Yellowstone River, about 4 miles north of Fish Village. You can access the rapids on a short walk from two pullouts on the highway. The river has a summer cutthroat trout run. Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Mouth Spring are a short walk from the roadside parking just north LeHardys Rapids and Fish Village. Fish Village has a Museum & Visitor Center.

Wild Bison on Highway, Yellowstone National Park

Wild Bison on Highway, © Can Stock / alptraum

Yellowstone National Park – More Sights

See wild bison and pronghorn antelope on the open plateau at Madison Junction on the west side of the park. You can also see lots of bison and elk at Hayden Valley between Canyon Village and Fish Village.

Lamar Valley is famous for its wolf packs. Wolves were extinct in Yellowstone National Park, but were reintroduced in 1995 by using Canadian wolves.

Ride the Yellowstone Park Yellow Bus on a number of guided tour options, such as sunset at Lake Butte. The buses operate from several lodges. In the winter, you can also pay to ride the Yellowstone Park snow coach between Mammoth and Old Faithful.

Morning Glory Pool, Upper Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory Pool, Upper Basin, © Can Stock / photo44

No Fences in Yellowstone

There are no fences in Yellowstone, so expect to be up close and personal with wildlife. Bison, elk, deer, coyotes and black bears have no fear of humans. Bison also have no fear of cars and will walk along the highways. Expect major traffic jams whenever bison choose to block the way. You won’t see wildlife around areas with lots of visitors though. More isolated trails and areas can be closed at times due to problems with bears, especially at the end of summer when they strive to put on weight for the winter. Bear spray is recommended if you are hiking away from the most popular areas.

Elk, Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Elk, Hayden Valley, © Can Stock / fisfra

Stay Safely Back from the Hot Pools

Be sure to stay safely back from the hot pools and springs. Boardwalks have been built to help ensure tourists don’t fall into the scalding waters. The Oyster Spring has been called the Belgian Pool since 1929 when a visitor from Belgium died after falling in. Visitors should avoid throwing coins and other items in the pools too, as it changes the chemistry. Coins and other metals can cause the loss of the vivid colors over time.

Yellowstone Upper Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Upper Falls, © Can Stock / alessandro0770

Yellowstone National Park Weather

Yellowstone weather is affected by the high elevation and also because it’s so far north. The Yellowstone weather in summer has average highs in the 70s F (25 C) and nights are cool. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons. Forest fires in summer create future grazing areas for the bison. Spring and fall sees evening temperatures below freezing and the possibility of heavy snowfall. Winters are extremely cold and snowfall of 12 feet annually is common.

Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Lake, © Can Stock / kwiktor

Get to Yellowstone National Park

The best way to get to Yellowstone National Park is by driving to the state of Wyoming. The park is open year round, however heavy snowfall forces all the roads to close in winter. You can’t get to Yellowstone National Park by car from October through April. If you ski or snowmobile in during the winter, you will find that most facilities are closed too. The only lodges open in the winter are Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. In the summer the park has 5 different entrances covering every side of the park.

You can also get to Yellowstone National Park by air through Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is about 2.5 hours north of Old Faithful. If you book winter lodging in the park, shuttle service between the lodge and the airport is included, but be aware that it’s very expensive. The snow coach drives over roads that are closed to other cars.

Moulton Barn, Grand Teton Range

Moulton Barn, Grand Teton Range, © Can Stock / mikenorton

Grand Teton National Park

Head south two hours from Yellowstone to Jackson, Wyoming. See the impressive Teton Range. Stop at the Grand Teton National Park visitor center on the way and consider staying at the Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake. Signal Mountain Lodge is the only lakefront accommodation in the park. Alternately stay just outside the park at the Moulton Ranch Cabins and catch a classic view of the Moulton barn with the Tetons as a backdrop. Visit Jenny Lake in the park and then head to the top rated ski runs at Jackson Hole. In winter this area is famous for the elk migration from Yellowstone to the National Elk Refuge in Jackson. You can also drive up the Teton Pass.

Yellowstone National Park – Lodges

Within Yellowstone National Park there are many lodges and cabins for rent through the park service. Reservations can be made with Yellowstone National Park Lodges. Only Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge are open in the winter. The summer lodges include Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Lodge, Canyon Lodge and Grant Village. The town of West Yellowstone just outside the western Yellowstone park entrance has affordable hotel options for those who don’t want to pay extra to stay in the park.

Yellowstone National Park – Background

Yellowstone National Park is America’s first National Park, created in 1872. The park is mainly in Wyoming, but it also touches Montana and Idaho. The first descriptions of the park were made in 1806 by John Coulter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The park is over a lava caldera, which creates over 300 geysers. Wildlife includes wild herds of bison, pronghorn, elk and bears. Grey wolves reintroduced from Canada. In colder weather, bison warming themselves by steam vents creates an eerie image. The park is centered on the Yellowstone Plateau with an elevation of about 8,000 feet.

Yellowstone National Park Lodges Map

Yellowstone National Park Lodges Map

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