Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming, United States North America icon North America

Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwestern part of the United States predominantly in the state of Wyoming with small overlaps into the states of Idaho and Montana. The park boundaries encompass an area of 3,468 square miles (8,983 sq km).

Yellowstone is the first national park in the United States, and although not the first protected area, it is the first national park in the world. The park is renowned for its canyons, geothermal features, lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and the abundance of wildlife.

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in the park measuring 136 square miles (350 sq km) with a depth of 394 feet (120 m). Being located at 7,732 feet (2,357 m), this makes it one of the largest high-elevation lakes on the continent.

Similarly, the Yellowstone Caldera stretching 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km) making it the largest supervolcano on the continent. It is still an active volcano. Eagle Peak is the highest summit of the park reaching a height of 11,358 feet (3,462 m).

The geothermal features are one of the leading attractions with the park accounting for half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features. Old Faithful, is a renowned geyser, erupting every 44 to 125 minutes with Steamboat Geyser being the largest active geyser in the world. There are over 10,000 thermal features within the park boundaries.

There are 290 waterfalls with a fall of at least 15 feet (4.6 m) with the tallest being Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River which reaches a height of 308 feet (94 m). The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the largest of three canyons which also include Lewis Canyon and Black Canyon.

Grizzly bear, black bear, herds of bison, elk, timber wolf, coyote, bighorn sheep, cougar, moose, mountain goat, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and pronghorn top off the larger species of mammals that visitors can hope to see.

Yellowstone Highlights

It is hard not to find a highlight in Yellowstone National Park almost every time you turn around. The park is renowned for wildlife sightings with the Yellowstone bison herd being the largest in the United States. Wildlife is only the icing on the cake with all that the park has to offer.

Hiking the trails to the Lower Falls, the boarded trail around the Grand Prismatic Spring, or any of the other numerous trails around geothermal features is amazing. Yellowstone is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America and it doesn’t take long to see why.

There is a roughly a figure 8 road the navigates around the park. This drive is an incredibly scenic drive by itself and provides opportunities for spotting wildlife as well. The figure 8 drive also delivers you the majority of geothermal features that can be explored with boarded trails around them.

Trails in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of those places where so much of it can be experienced from the road with short stops and easy short hikes to experience the abundant natural wonders that are experienced across the park boundaries.  However, hiking is one of the best ways to experience the splendor of Yellowstone in a more intimate and personal manner.

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring Trail: This is an easy boardwalk loop trail and around the natural phenomenon known as Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. The out and back trail leads along with the hot spring while also out to a vista viewing point. It covers a distance of 1.6 miles (2.57 km).

Upper Geyser Basin: This 4.5-mile (7.24 km) loop trail meanders amongst the hot springs out to an observation point to view Old Faithful.  There are views of the river and chances to see wildflowers and wildlife. The trail is paved and wheelchair and stroller friendly.

West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail: This is another easy 1-mile (1.6 km) loop trail that circles around the active thermal geyser.  The trail also travels along with scenic views of Yellowstone Lake. It is the largest lake at high elevation across anywhere in North America.

Canyon Rim North Trail: this is a 7.9-mile (12.71 km) trail with an ascent of 1,148 feet (349.91 m) out to Inspiration Point.  This is one of the most photographed spots in the national park.  The scenic landscape has been the inspiration for many paintings and gallery photographs. This is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the waterfall is one of the most picturesque in the country.

Avalance Peak Trail: This is a challenging 4.7-mile (7.56 km) trail that ascends up 2,073 feet (631.85 m) to one of the most striking panoramic views in the park.  The mountain range from the lookout is breathtaking. The trail is rocky with steep inclines while offering chances to see wildlife.

 

Yellowstone Highlights

  • Old Faithful Geyser
  • Steamboat Geyser
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Varied and abundance geothermal features

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