Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Sights To See

During the summer, visit Yellowstone's most popular sights during the quieter times of the day, in the morning, or late afternoon and evening. You'll streamline your visits (and see even more) if you take advantage of the park's interpretive sightseeing tours. And though many of the ever-popular sights that follow will be on your must-see list, don't overlook the many park attractions just off the beaten track. Inquire at any hotel front desk or visitor center for activities, information and reservations parkwide.

Mammoth Country 

Mammoth Hot Springs: Few of Yellowstone's hydrothermal features have the sheer grace and beauty of Mammoth Hot Springs. Mineral-laden hot water from deep beneath the Earth's crust finds its way to the surface and builds tier upon tier of cascading, terraced stone. Begun thousands of years ago, the sculpting of the terraces continues as thousands of gallons of water well up and deposit large amounts of travertine daily.

Geyser Country 

Old Faithful: Of the approximately 10,000 hydrothermal features in the park, the best known is Old Faithful. Thousands of gallons of steaming water thunder into the sky with each eruption. Old Faithful has rarely missed its eruptions during its more than 120 years of observation. The geyser erupts on average every 92 minutes.

Norris and Firehole River Geyser Basins: Norris Geyser Basin, just 21 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs, and three geyser basins along the Firehole River, have the largest display of geysers. Steamboat Geyser, at Norris, is the world's tallest active geyser and has infrequent, unpredictable eruptions reaching 300—400 feet. Both a short water phase and a longer steam phase occur, lasting up to 12 hours. Echinus Geyser, once predictable, now varies widely. When it does erupt, it can spray the viewing platform.

Grand Prismatic Spring: Yellowstone's largest hot spring, at 370 feet (Excelsior is 200x 300) in diameter, is accessed by taking the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk. The deep-blue color of the pool and the rings of yellow- and orange-colored thermophiles surrounding it combine to produce a beautiful prism effect.

Morning Glory Pool: This pool gets its name because of its resemblance to the morning glory flower. Unfortunately, it is no longer as deep blue as it once was because its vent is clogged by debris that visitors have thrown into it.

Lake Country

Yellowstone Lake: Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. The shoreline is 141 miles, and the surface area is 132 square miles. In fact, it is so large that it can even create its own weather, forming cumulus clouds during the day that often shower the area by evening. The lake sits within a large caldera (or crater) that was formed by a volcano and then carved and filled by glaciers some 14,000 years ago. The lake's 141-mile, tree-lined shore rims the deep, blue waters where, nearby, moose, waterfowl and other wildlife reside. Streams flowing into the lake provide it and the Yellowstone River with an abundance of fish.

West Thumb Geyser Basin: Located on Yellowstone Lake's shore, this small thermal area holds lakeshore geysers, hot springs and bubbling paint pots. Fishing Cone is one of many lakeshore geysers submerged here until the lake's water level drops in late summer. Fishing Cone gets its name from the fact that visitors used to catch trout from the lake and then promptly drop them into its boiling waters to cook.

Roosevelt Country 

Tower Fall: Yellowstone's Roosevelt Country is known for its rolling hills covered with sagebrush, fir, pine, aspen and spruce, and its sparkling streams teeming with trout. The 132-foot Tower Fall, with its volcanic pinnacles, is a favorite attraction of the area. The Bannock Trail, an old American Indian route, runs through the dramatic landscape surrounding Roosevelt Lodge.

Petrified Forests: Yellowstone's "forests of stone" contain diverse and well-preserved samples of ancient plants and standing trees. Volcanic eruptions over the ages have buried subtropical plant varieties along with cold-climate trees such as spruce, fir and sequoia. The most dramatic vertical stumps are at Specimen Ridge.

Canyon Country 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Providing one of the park's most breathtaking sights, the turbulent Yellowstone River roars and foams through 20 miles of golden-hued cliffs. The Yellowstone River originates on the slopes of Younts Peak in the Absaroka Mountains, southeast of the park. Two major waterfalls are impressive sights. At 109 feet and 308 feet respectively, Upper and Lower falls are truly indicative of the power of nature.

Hayden Valley: This broad, rolling valley is an old lake bed formed when glaciers created a lake here during the last Ice Age. It is now known for its roaming bison, waterfowl and other wildlife. Yellowstone River meanders through the valley, forming marshes where you may see swans and Canada geese. Elk, deer and bison graze in the meadows and sagebrush flats, while bears and wolves occupy the surrounding woods.

Comments

We just saw Old Faithful (8/12/10) and wondered whether in the coldest of winter days or nights, the spray ever freezes before it hits the ground.