Most Stunning Attractions at Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park covers more than 3,450 square miles spanning three states, with scenic wonders that include canyons, mountains, rivers and lakes, as well as many features unique to the park. With such a vast area, you could spend an entire lifetime and not see everything there is to see in Yellowstone. So if your visit will only last a few days, you’ll want to see as many of the top attractions as possible.
Although a list of the most stunning attractions at Yellowstone could span several pages, here are candidates for the top five:
Lamar Valley counts bison, grizzly, elk, and wolves as residents. The valley is relatively remote, but it has a well-deserved reputation as the top spot in the park for watching wolves. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing. The Lamar Valley is often referred to as the “American Serengeti,” and the Park Service calls it home to one of the largest populations of free-roaming large animals to be found anywhere in the world. The road through the valley is one of the least-traveled in the park.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-altitude lake in the Lower 48 and is the largest body of water in the park. Recreational boating is a popular activity on the lake and several campsites on the southern shore are only accessible by boat. Although Fishing Bridge, originally built in 1902 and rebuilt in 1937, was once a popular place to fish for cutthroat trout until a decline in the cutthroat population forced an end to the practice. Fishing is allowed elsewhere on the lake from June 15 until the first Sunday in November, although all cutthroat trout must be released.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is an extensive complex of hot springs located on a hill comprised of travertine, a form of limestone. The area was created thousands of years ago by massive deposits of calcium carbonate. The layout is constantly shifting thanks to the ongoing flow of calcium carbonate; Terrace Mountain in the area is the largest calcium carbonate spring in the world.
The best-known feature of Mammoth Hot Springs is a series of travertine terraces dubbed the Minerva Terrace. The headquarters of Yellowstone is located at Mammoth Hot Springs and includes some of the oldest buildings in the park. The Visitor’s Center features films, a history exhibit, and a wildlife museum. Elk can often be seen grazing on the lawns at Mammoth Village.
Although not as large as the one in Arizona, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon can be just as impressive. Although it is known that the canyon was formed by erosion, other aspects of the geology is not well understood. The canyon in its present form is thought to be about 14,000 years old. Views around the canyon are breathtaking and The Lower Falls is one of the most photographed features in the entire park. Taking in the scenery from both sides of the canyon is highly recommended.
No feature is more synonymous with Yellowstone than Old Faithful, and a visit to the geyser is a must for first-timers. True to its name, Old Faithful erupts every 62-91 minutes, with the average time between eruptions about 90 minutes. Each eruption can shoot as much as 8,000 gallons of boiling water up to 185 feet into the air, with each one lasting as long as five minutes.
Visitors can watch eruptions from a boardwalk in front of the Old Faithful Visitor Center. And Old Faithful isn’t the only geyser in the park; there are several others in the Upper Geyser Basin. Old Faithful Inn, built in 1903, is the most popular hotel in the park, although reservations can be hard to come by in the summer.
BrushBuck offers tours of Old Faithful that include stops at Yellowstone Lake, The Upper and Lower Falls and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, as well as several geyser basins along the way.