Yellowstone National Park
Located: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho - Established: March 1, 1872
The Park. Yellowstone - the country’s first National Park! The inscription on the Roosevelt Arch, which serves as the gateway to the northwestern entrance of Yellowstone states: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” Yellowstone became the world’s first National Park in 1872 specifically to benefit and be enjoyed by people from all parts of the world.
What captured the eye of those who lobbied for Yellowstone to become the world’s first park were the over 10,000 hydrothermal features including 300 geysers, boiling hot springs, bubbling mud pots, fumaroles, the stunningly beautiful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with it’s thundering waterfalls, and the abundant wildlife that roam the park.
Getting there: Yellowstone is located in the northwest section of Wyoming.Three percent of the park can be found in Montana and a 1% sliver spills over into Idaho. The park has 5 Entrance Stations – North, South, East, west and Northeast – and each Station is open based on current weather conditions. We visited the park in October and the South Entrance was closed due to snowfall!
When to visit: Like most all parks, Yellowstone never closes; however, winter weather will close down many of roads within the park. Summer is the busiest season in the park that attracts over 5 million visitors annually. If you wish to avoid crowds, plan on visiting the park in any other season!
What to do: Boating, biking, camping, hiking, bicycling, cross county skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife viewing are but a few of the many activities available.
If time permits, the 142-mile Grand Loop Road is an excellent way to experience Yellowstone. The road forms a figure 8 and touches upon many of the key elements of the park. At the north end of the loop, walk along the Mammoth Hot SpringsTerrace – a wooden boardwalk where you’ll experience the constantly changing, ever steaming hydrothermal limestone terraces.
Heading east and then south on the Grand Loop Road, you’ll be treated to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls. Further along the route, the Norris Geyser Basin sits at the intersection of three major faults and is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal regions.
Old Faithful, the world-renowned iconic feature of Yellowstone is located at the southern section of the Grand Loop Road. Old Faithful erupts on average every 88 minutes. Although it is the world’s most famous geyser, it is not the world’s tallest. That title goes to Steamboat Geyser found in the Norris Geyser Basin. Steamboat is known to throw water over 300 feet in the air!
Hiking: With over 900 miles of hiking trails crisscrossing throughout this park, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and stretch your legs! Most of Yellowstone is a vast wilderness. If you wish to escape the crowds, strap on a backpack and spend a day or three of solitude camping in the backcountry. One of our most memorable hikes we experienced was taking the snow-covered trail from the Old Faithful Inn up to Mallard Lake.
Where to stay: Yellowstone features 9 lodges with over 2000 rooms including the Old Faithful Inn – one of the 16 Great Lodges of the National Parks. In addition, there are 12 front country campgrounds with over 1,700 campsites available.
Wildlife. Along the Loop, chances are you’ll encounter some of the park’s abundant wildlife. The early morning and evening hours are the best for spotting bison, which commonly graze right behind the Old Faithful Inn. This park is filled with grizzlies, moose and elk. A thriving wolf population was recently reintroduced into the park.
Memorable moments: Hiking up to Mallard Lake after a show shower. Listening to the thunderous roar of Yellowstone Falls. Witnessing Old Faithful and hundreds of other geysers spouting off.
Trivia: Trekking about the trails of Yellowstone is walking on top of a dormant volcano! The Yellowstone Caldera was formed by a massive volcanic eruption 640,000 years ago. When the caldera will blow again is under constant study!
Banner: One of the many colorful hydrothermal hot springs found throughout the park.
Experience these Check List:
- Stop by the park’s many Visitor and Information Centers
- Witness Old Faithful spouting off
- Drive the Grand Loop Road
- Explore Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
- Visit the many Geyser Basins
- Experience the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River and its magnificent Waterfalls