What are the places in Yellowstone you really have to visit? In this article, I share my 10 favorite places in Yellowstone.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Near Canyon Village is the West Thumb Geyser Basin. If you enter the park via the southern entrance (from Grand Teton), this will probably be the first geyser basin you visit. It is a small basin, with a path that goes all the way around. In addition to many-colored springs, there are a couple of geysers. Some of them are part of Yellowstone Lake, which is an amazing sight.
Old Faithful is one of the places in Yellowstone that you really have to visit, and it’s probably the most popular place in the park. Old Faithful is a geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. Such an eruption is a true spectacle because it makes a lot of noise and can erupt to 56 meters high. It is always crowded here, but they are well prepared for that. There is a big parking and a large platform around Old Faithful, so you can see it very well from every angle. The time of eruption is indicated on several points.
Upper Geyser Basin
Old Faithful is located in the Upper Geyser Basin and I can certainly recommend wandering around in this area for a couple of hours. There are many paths (often wooden boardwalks) and you’ll see a lot of weird colors and steam coming from the earth. Highlights include the Castle Geyser, Grotto Geyser, Daisy Geyser, Round Spring, and Grand Geyser. Do be scared, because there is always a geyser erupting somewhere. Very impressive!
Grand Prismatic from above
Another absolute highlight in Yellowstone is the Grand Prismatic. You can drive to the parking lot (tip: go as early as possible, otherwise there is no place) and watch him from the deck, but then you actually won’t be able to see the Grand Prismatic very well. It’s better to get to the viewpoint so you can see it from above, like in my picture. To get here, you have to park at the Fairy Falls Trailhead and then follow the path that goes up the hill. The view is spectacular!
Artists Paint Pots
Between Madison and Norris Geyser Basin lies Artists Paint pots. I had passed this place a couple of times until I decided to stop there, and was very surprised by the beauty of this place. The basin is a bit hidden behind the trees, but once you are there, there are so many things to see! Walk the complete trail around the basin, because you climb up a hill, which will give you a great view of the basin and the surroundings. Wow!
Norris Geyser Basin
The Norris Geyser Basin is one of the larger basins in Yellowstone and this is also a beautiful place to visit. To discover all the trails will a couple of hours because there is so much to see! Here you’ll find a lot of geysers, where the Steamboat Geyser is the most famous, it can spray up to 90 meters high. The porcelain Basin is also worth a visit, here the landscape has white and green colors. Very Special!
Mammoth Hot Springs
In Mammoth Hot Springs It seems as if the Earth was turned inside out. No erupting geysers, but white and beige-colored terraces with some steam. They have laid out a beautiful boardwalk to discover the area, so make sure to go for a stroll.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is again another highlight of the park. The view of the Lower Falls from Artist Point is spectacular, and if you walk along the rim, you can see that the walls of the canyon change into yellow and pink.
Chances are you have seen some wildlife during your visit to all the beautiful places mentioned above, but if that is not the case, I would definitely visit one of the valleys. For example, you can go to Hayden Valley, which is near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Here you are likely to end up in a Bison traffic jam. There are also many Elk in this area.
Lamar Valley is probably the best place to spot wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. Go as early as possible (just after sunrise), because then you’ll have the biggest changes to see wildlife. If you see a lot of cars next to the road, always stop, because then there is something special to see. In any case, take some good binoculars or a camera with a large zoom lens, because you don’t want to get too close to the animals. In Lamar Valley, I saw a lot of bison, some wolves, a fox, bears, and pronghorns (kind of antelope).
More beautiful places in Yellowstone
Besides these 10 beautiful places in Yellowstone, there are of course many other beautiful places that are worth a visit. Some of my favorites were Mud Volcano (boiling mud), Biscuit Basin (bright blue baths), Firehole Lake Drive (many erupting geysers and if you’re lucky, you’ll see some bison), and Fountain Paintpot (where it looks like a few paint pots have been thrown over the landscape). To see all these beautiful places, you definitely need four or five full days, so take your time and be amazed by the beauty that Yellowstone has to offer.
Where to stay
To see all those beautiful places in Yellowstone you will need to take your time, so you will have to spend a couple of nights in Yellowstone (or nearby). The best way to see everything is to stay in several places in the park. That way, you don’t need to spend too much time traveling in the park. Check this website to find lodges and campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park.
When everything is too expensive, or there’s not a lot available during your trip your Yellowstone, I would recommend booking accommodation in either West Yellowstone or Gardiner. You can find rooms easily in those towns with Booking.com.
Would you like to read more about Yellowstone?
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Or check out these articles:
– Yellowstone vacation: the ultimate guide
– Yellowstone was a great stop during this Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary: from Portland to Yellowstone
– Video: Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park