Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and one of the most fascinating places on earth because of its many geothermal features. Yellowstone was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. It’s also one of the most popular destinations that my clients request.
I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to write about, but please allow me to rectify that. We’ll look at some facts first and then I’ll show you some of the features.
First, let’s talk about the size of Yellowstone. It is BIG—over 2.2 million acres. To help you picture that, it is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
The park is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, which is the largest supervolcano on the North American continent. It is conserved to be a dormant volcano, but it fuels the geysers and hydrothermal features. Yellowstone contains more than half of the world’s geysers.
Yellowstone also has some amazing wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk.
Let’s move on to ten of the features you can see on a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
1. Old Faithful
Old Faithful is the world’s most famous geyser and probably what comes to mind when most people think of Yellowstone. It erupts about 20 times a day, so it’s easy to make sure that you see it during your visit. There are lots of other geysers in the park, but the park service makes predictions on six of them, including Old Faithful.
2. Colorful hot springs
The springs at Yellowstone are probably my favorite part of the park. The colors are just amazing. The colors come from microorganisms called thermophiles, which means heat lovers. These amazing organisms thrive at temperatures close to boiling!
3. Norris Geyser Basin
What my pictures don’t show is the sound and smell of the hydrothermal features of Yellowstone. You can hear hissing fumaroles and smell the rotten-egg scent of hydrogen sulfide. Norris Geyser Basin is a good spot for a multi-sensory experience.
4. Artists’ Paintpots
Artists’ Paintpots is a great place to see large mudpots as well as colorful hot springs.
5. Mammoth Hot Springs
Another one of my favorite spots in Yellowstone is Mammoth Hot Springs. The springs formed travertine terraces. When the spring water rises up through the limestone, it dissolves the calcium carbonate which gets redeposited when the water flows over the terraces. More recently, I saw travertine terraces in Pumakkale in Türkiye. Here’s a photo of my kids when we visited Yellowstone years ago.
6. Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake is a large lake, roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide. While the water temperature is too cold for swimming, the lake is great for boating and fishing. The park offers one-hour guided sightseeing cruises, or you could rent a boat and explore the lake yourself.
7. West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Hydrothermal features are found not only on the lake shore but also under the surface of the lake.
When you think of Yellowstone, you think of geysers, right? (And you should, because there are more than 500 of them.) But did you know that Yellowstone also has almost 300 waterfalls?! Some require a hike, but others are more easily accessible. One of the more easily accessible waterfalls is Tower Falls, a beautiful waterfall with a height of 132 feet.
9. Picturesque valleys
The valleys in Yellowstone provide stunning vistas. They are also great places to spot wildlife. Both Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley are scenic and rich in wildlife. Here’s a picture of Hayden Valley.
And here are some bison in Lamar Valley.
10. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Last, but certainly not least, of Yellowstone’s beautiful features is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The canyon was formed by erosion from the river that flows through it. The rock of the canyon contains a variety of iron compounds that were “cooked” by the geothermal action. This cause the rocks to change colors. Mother Nature is an amazing artist.
Would you like to visit Yellowstone? Many of my clients pair it with Grand Teton National Park for a 7-8 night vacation, but of course, you could stay longer if you wanted to. Read about how my services work here, and then get in touch with me to get the process started.