4 Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park

Published 23 September 2016

Lucy Tolley

Lucy Tolley

The famous Yellowstone National Park, spanning Wyoming and Montana, boasts a wealth of tourist diversity including geothermal activity, breath-taking scenery, a variety of wildlife and extensive hiking trails.

Tucked away up in the north of the country, Yellowstone is world-renowned. Now I've been there myself, I can probably think of a million reasons why the park should be on your bucket list, but I've narrowed it down to four...

Lucy in Yellowstone National Park

Lucy in Yellowstone National Park image: Lucy Tolley

My sisters and I had flown to Los Angeles, but we wanted to travel further afield than California. Having a sense of adventure, we decided we would road trip up into Wyoming and explore Yellowstone to find out what all the fuss was about.

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful geyser erupting image: Lucy Tolley

Geysers geysers geysers!

We entered through the park’s southern entrance and started the drive to one of the more famous attractions: Old Faithful and its family of geysers. I’d heard about ‘the geysers’ but I didn’t really know what to expect. What I didn’t realise is that much of Yellowstone National Park sits inside an ancient volcanic crater – we were cruising about on an active volcano. Here, heat from volcanic activity warms the groundwater, creating the thermal features present in Yellowstone and forming the most incredible natural phenomena.

The park is set up perfectly for visitors and we were able to meander around the geysers, eyeing up the water, merrily bubbling away, from the cute wooden walkways. Old Faithful is probably the most famous geyser on earth and erupts periodically throughout the day. When it goes, it really goes!

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Not only are there erupting geysers, there are other thermal features throughout the park, including Grand Prismatic Spring, a colourful hot spring which is definitely worth a visit; check out the mud pots, pools of boiling, popping mud.

Top Tip: Hang around for when Old Faithful erupts and make the trip to Prismatic Springs, it is a truly wondrous sight.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Bison in Yellowstone National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Wildlife spotting

I love animals, I love wildlife, I love nature. So I was especially excited when heading to Yellowstone knowing that it is home to hundreds of animal species.

Yellowstone can be busy, especially around the geysers by Old Faithful. But get away from this hotspot and there are miles of roads ready for exploring. Keep your eyes open, have a pair of binoculars at the ready and have your camera to hand.

Take the time to study the bison. These majestic beasts can be found on the grassy plains and during the winter months they find their way to the hot springs to enjoy the warmth that they provide.

Elk in Yellowstone National Park

 Elk in Yellowstone National Park

From the big to the small: in water areas keep an eye out for beavers and their dams. North American river otters are prevalent in the park and there are even a few snakes slithering about.

The most famous resident of all is the bear, with both the grizzly and black varieties residing here. However, these aren’t the only predators that call Yellowstone their home; there are also wolves, coyotes and lynx.

The park is jammed full of wildlife, however it’s a big wild area, so have a little patience and chances are it will pay off. Dusk and dawn are the best times of day for wildlife spotting so don’t hang around in bed in the mornings! When we were there, we had heard that wolf cubs had been spotted the day before. Sadly, we missed them and had to make do with a coyote, bison, moose, beaver, a snake and a few elk.

Top tip: Hang about in the Hayden or Lamar Valley for long enough and you might catch a glimpse of one of Yellowstone’s elusive inhabitants, such as a bear, wolf or coyote.

Lucy by a lake in Yellowstone National Park

Lucy by a lake in Yellowstone National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Breath-taking scenery

I keep going on about the scenery; what can I say, I’m a big fan of a good view! The views in Yellowstone didn’t disappoint.

The park sprawls across 3,500 square miles and it offers a variety of landscapes; from seemingly never-ending pine forests to impressive mountains. There are vast open plains through the Lamar and Hayden Valleys with their meandering rivers and incredible views across the large expanse of water known as Yellowstone Lake. Head to Yellowstone’s own ‘Grand Canyon’, a dramatic chasm formed by the Yellowstone River. And don’t forget to check out Yellowstone Falls, just upstream of the canyon.

Top tip: Drive the Grand Loop Road, stopping off at various points along the way to take in the views.

Lucy hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Lucy hiking in Yellowstone National Park image: Lucy Tolley

Hiking trails

There are 1,300 miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, suiting a variety of ages and abilities. So there is no excuse not to put your trainers on and get walking. What better way to explore the rugged, dynamic wilderness than on your own feet? The park is well set up for walking and the rangers at any of the visitor centres will happily help you choose the right trail for you. It’s a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Old Faithful and check out Yellowstone’s raw beauty in the most natural of ways. But just remember: Stay bear safe!

Top tip: The weather can be changeable, so take a rucksack with essentials, plenty of water and be prepared for all eventualities.

Yellowstone is a place like nowhere else on earth, it hosts an abundance of natural beauties and I am literally counting down the days until I can return to this magical park.

Spend two nights in Yellowstone National Park with Round the World Experts' tailor-made America's National Parks holiday.

You might also like:

Top 10 US National Parks

5 Underrated US National Parks

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