Yellowstone – America and the world’s first National Park. With hot springs, steaming pool geysers, a canyon, a lake and incredible wildlife, this UNESCO World Heritage site is centered over Caldera, the largest dormant volcano. While the area was inhabited by Native American’s centuries ago, it only became popular in 1871. The actual area of the park is estimated to be approximately 3472 square miles, so researching the areas you want to explore is key.
Norris Geyser Basin
Characterized by vibrant shades of turquoise, orange, green, and pale white surfaces, the Norris Geyser Basin is an outstanding location. As minerals in the water solidify, a porcelain-like textured surface forms. This keeps steam from escaping with eventually enough pressure building up causing an eruption, thus creating a new hole. The geysers and hot springs bubbling like a witches cauldron and the setting of the basin surrounded by trees make fantastic photographic opportunity. A series of wooden paths take you from one hot spring to the next, with the massive Steamboat Geyser and its iconic white cloud of steam close to 10 meters high – impossible to miss. While at the basin, you can also fish in the Gibbon River and visit its falls.
Open 24/7, the Norris Geyser Basin is closed from late fall all through the winter. The geysers the area can be very humid and temperature quite hot, so visiting in fall and spring is a good idea. With the generic entrance free for Yellowstone being $25 for a seven day pass, you want to have at least 2 hours to see this area area. Camping on the grounds close to Norris Geyser is at $20 per night and has access to bathrooms. The only downfall is that the free parking lot close by is quite tight, and can get crowed pretty quickly especially between 10am and 6pm.
A 26 mile drive takes you to the Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America, with a surface area covering 132 square miles and surrounded by mountains. Apart from offering ample hiking options, it is also a very popular fishing spot particularly as it is home to wild cutthroat trout. The lake is extremely cold all year round, and even freezes in winter, so swimming is not recommended. With numerous sandy inlets forming beaches and shores, whether you paddle your way around or take one of the scenic boat tours around the lake, you are guaranteed spectacular views and tranquility. It has also been noted as a popular spot among grizzly bears looking for fish, so be on the look out for the furry beasts.
Mammoth Hot Springs
40 miles away from the Yellowstone Lake, you will reach Mammoth Hot Springs with water rapids and hot springs surrounded by unparalleled limestone travertine terrace like formations. There are two available boardwalks, with the lower one leading to Liberty Cap, a peaked hat shaped hot spring cone, similar in shape to the hats worn during the French Revolution – which is what earned its name. You can also visit the sharp travertine formations of Minerva Spring. The upper board offers views of Prospect Terrace, the Orange Spring Mound with its gorgeous golden hues and the contrasting white snow-like Angel Terrace.
The area makes a perfect hiking location, both around the hot springs and along the Old Gardener Road, a dirt road originally walked by soldiers. While in summer you can take a dip in the Gardner Lake with the hot springs keeping the waters warm. In winter, the surface freezes offering great skiing possibilities. Elk, deer, and bison are regular visitors making it a popular wildlife spot. With a hotel and cabins nearby as well as camping grounds, there are multiple options if you would like to spend the night in the area.
Yellowstone National Park is so diverse and has a wide offering, it makes it nearly impossible to see the whole park in one visit. Whether you intend to spend just a day or make it a longer holiday, the park does not fall short of beautiful locations to explore. Whether you are interested in visiting the Norris Geyser Basin, taking a boat ride on the Yellowstone Lake, or take a stroll, swim, or ski at the Mammoth Hot Springs, there is no denying that Yellowstone park is simply marvelous.
Shots from Yellowstone
Here are some of our favorites shots we got while exploring Yellowstone National Park
Where Is It?
With 5 entrances it is important to see which one is closest to the area you want to explore. If you intend to start at Norris Geyser Basin and you’re coming from Wyoming, head Northwest on US-20 W/US 26W towards Highland Ln, continue on WY-134 W to Kinnear and then follow US-26 W and US-287 N to Inbound Rd in Yellowstone National Park, exiting towards Old Faithful from US-191/US-287/US-89
Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming, United States
(Plus Code: CCH6+5J Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States)