Yellowstone National Park is the most popular national park in the U.S., with 2010 seeing 3.6 million visitors. The entire park encompasses 2,221,766 acres, roughly equivalent to 3,472 square miles. As the world’s first national park, it is also a designed World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. With only five-percent of the park comprising water, 15-percent is grasslands and more than 80-percent is forest.
Exploring Yellowstone is a mighty adventure, one that usually has time restrictions for traveling visitors. Yellowstone Holiday, a premiere West Yellowstone cabin rental company is located on the shores of Hebgen Lake and also offers RV parks in West Yellowstone. This guide serves to highlight the top 10 attractions in this massive national park.
- Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin – Old Faithful is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in the entire park. Visitors can take an additional two hours to walk the boardwalks that line the Upper Geyser Basin, including Daisy, Riverside, Castle and Grotto. The 1.4-mile hike up to the Morning Glory Pool is sublime, as it highlights one of the most colorful geothermal features in the entire park.
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Simply breathtaking and mesmerizing, this canyon highlights the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls. The first is 308 feet high and is the single most photographed feature in the entire park. Offering vantage points from both the North and South sides, the 3/8-mile hike down to the Lower Falls is heart pumping but well worth the ultimate scenic reward. The Canyon itself is approximately 20 miles long, with a width of 1,500 to 4,000 feet and a depth of 800 to 1,200 feet.
- Hayden Valley – Abundantly teaming with wildlife, this valley highlights the Yellowstone River, including bison, elk, bears, Canadian geese, ducks, waterfowl and pelicans.
- Mammoth Hot Springs – Surrounded by herds of grazing elk and Fort Yellowstone, Mammoth is home to travertine geothermal formations. Ever changing, these formations are a main tourist attraction, outlined by boardwalks that make short hikes along these warm springs picturesque and beautiful.
- Yellowstone Lake – This lake is the largest high-altitude lake in the entire lower 48 states. Framed by snowcapped peaks, this lake offers the Fishing Bridge, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, the Lake Ranger Station, the Lake Lodge, an Ice Marina and even a nearby Amphitheater.
- Norris Geyser Basin – Home to Echinus, one of the most popular geysers, and Steamboat, recorded as the world’s tallest geyser) the boardwalks that line this basin allow visitors to explore the colorful geothermal features.
- Lamar Valley – Home to a variety of elk, bison, coyotes, wolfs and grizzlies, this area is abundant in wildlife, making it perfect for wildlife photographers. Remotely located within the northeasterly boundaries of the park, this area makes for a scenic drive.
- Tower Fall – An ever-popular waterfall, a short walk highlights an overlook. At a dizzying height of 132 feet, this area is a popular summer and winter destination.
- Lower Geyser Basin – This area also comprises the legendary Fountain Paint Pots, which feature colorful, bubbling mud pools. Containing 11 square miles, visitors can trek on the Fountain Paint Pot Trail, which highlights several pools.
- West Thumb Geyser Basin – This area is near Yellowstone Lake and includes a number of geothermal features, fantastic views of the massive lake and even several wildlife vantage points.