With unforgettable scenery and stunning wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is a veritable wonderland. It's an abundant rugged paradise that is impossible to do justice to with just one visit (or just one article).
But unfortunately, many of us only have one or two days to visit the park before we have to speed along to whatever it is we occupy the rest of our days with. If that's the case, here's what you absolutely should not miss in Yellowstone.
1. Grand Prismatic Spring
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone's magnificent Grand Prismatic Spring is a blue and green jewel when seen from above, resembling a swirling eye or an enchanted abscess. At 370 feet across it's larger than a football field, and its colors come from all the bacteria swirling around in its hot waters.
2. Old Faithful
Yellowstone's most famous geyser is Old Faithful, located in the park's Upper Geyser Basin. Old Faithful is easy to visit, with a seating area and parking lot, but it packs a huge punch, sometimes erupting 20 times per day and reaching up to 180 feet into the air. Anywhere from 4,000 to over 8,000 gallons of water can be expelled in a single eruption, and the water can reach up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Lamar Valley
Yellowstone Lamar Valley
Often referred to as America's Serengeti, Lamar Valley is a prime spot for seeing bison, wolf packs, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and coyotes. If you've ever wanted to catch a glimpse of American wilderness as it once was, this is the place — where else might you see hordes of bison roaming across wild landscapes as they did hundreds of years ago before this land was ever colonized?
4. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Stretching from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area, Yellowstone's Grand Canyon was formed by erosion and today stretches around 20 miles. Located on the eastern side of the park, the canyon rises 4,000-feet wide and dips 1,200-feet deep in different places. The canyon, which is formed by lovely pink and white stones, was shaped by rhyolite lava flows, heat and faulting and flooding. Today, you can view the stunning scenery from Inspiration Point or from a number of other overlooks that will allow you to drink in the place's rugged majesty.
5. Yellowstone Grand Loop Road
Yellowstone grand loop road
The Grand Loop Road is a great way to see Yellowstone. At 140 miles long, the road can be driven in around 4 to 7 hours — but be sure you don't speed too much, because this is very windy terrain. The loop will take you past Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lake Village, and many other memorable sights.
6. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
Yellowstone's Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a not-for-profit wildlife center in Yellowstone. It contains animals that, for one reason or another, aren't able to live on their own in the wild. While you'll likely catch glimpses of other creatures from a distance, here you can see the animals up close and personal. A visit to the center will have you learning a lot about grizzlies and all the other wildlife in the park.
7. Mammoth Hot Springs
mammoth hot springs
Mammoth Hot Springs is a collection of hot springs comprised of cooled calcium deposits. It is heated by water from the Norris Geyser Basin, and it has the largest number of hot terraces in the world.