It’s hard not to have heard of Yellowstone National Park. Some may know it for its feared super volcano, others because of its diverse wildlife or perhaps its renowned geothermal features. We recently went on a camping adventure in the park and want to share with you 5 unmissable sights you must add to your itinerary when visiting.
Grand Prismatic Spring
The lake is an active geothermal hot spring, the third largest in the world, named for its rainbow colours which are produced by microbes. As you get nearer the edges the water cools and the microbes become darker, which creates a stunning visual effect. Located in the Midway Geyser Basin, the Grand Prismatic Spring is a good stop off point before or after visiting Old Faithful. For an extra special view of this feature, you can hike up Fairy Falls for a breathtaking view across the springs.
No trip to Yellowstone would be complete without a visit to its most famous landmark. Whatever time of year you go expect crowds. Every hour and 40 minutes Old Faithful puts on an impressive display which lasts around 2 minutes. Listening to the force of nature expelling water and the ooo’s and ahhh’s of the crowd is an exciting experience, although if you go early morning or at sunset the crowds are slimmer. There are loads of other geysers in Yellowstone, for example in the Norris Geyser Basin, which is home to Yellowstone’s most powerful geyser though it hasn’t erupted in 17 years. Doesn’t exactly fit well into itinerary timings! We recommend a morning visit before heading off on a hike.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The commanding canyon slices a wicked scar 24 miles long and up to 1240ft deep into the rocky earth. It’s located in the eastern side of the park and even in this day and age the geology and formation of the canyon are not well understood. Throughout the canyon there are two major waterfalls: the upper and lower falls. We recommend you actually visit more than one stopping point, dotted along the roadside. Lower Falls, the larger of the two, is fantastically powerful and grants a straightline view down the canyon while water cascades over the 100m drop. Uncle Tom’s trail is a steep trail that descends into the canyon and puts you 50m below the start of lower falls.
This is one of the highest peaks in the park and on a clear day you can see all the way down to the Tetons to the south. The mountain has been one of the top attractions in the park since the late 19th century and for good reason, as it’s arguably the best view across a diverse landscape. Looking down into the canyon it will grant a new and wondrous perspective. It is snowy almost year round due to its 10,000ft+ altitude, and the overall hike time is 4 hours for a 6 mile loop.
If you’re a wildlife fanatic then you should take a whirl through the valley that makes you feel as if you’re in Jurassic Park. It is home to thousands of bison and is a frequent spot for bears as well as wolves, deer and coyote, almost as if they enjoy the attention. We recommend driving through at sunrise or sunset to beat the crowds and to give yourself the best chance of seeing the rarer animals. With just under 1200 bears in the park, Lamar Valley is going to give you the best opportunities to see them. If you see a crowd of photographers, hurry over as it’s likely they’ve spotted something awesome. In peak season this road can get congested as eager tourists struggle for that new profile picture so be aware!
If you’ve not planned on visiting Yellowstone in your lifetime you’re making a huge mistake! It was the best trip of our lives and we can’t wait to go back and experience it all again. Camping in one of the campgrounds and exploring the spectacular scenery will stay with you for the rest of your life and is truly an experience you will not find anywhere else.
Written by Feral Escape