Located mostly in the Northwest corner of Wyoming and extending partially into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is the oldest National Park in the United States. Home to mountains, grassy valleys, waterfalls and geysers, Yellowstone Park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, extending 3,472 square miles. Yellowstone’s size may seem overwhelming, but most of the park’s major features can be found along the park’s major thoroughfare, the Grand Loop Road. Here are five must-see sights for families:
The most popular attraction in the park, and perhaps the most famous, is the Old Faithful geyser. Its eruptions occur about every hour and a half, last one and a half to five minutes, and reach heights up to 184 feet. There are several scenic trails in the area as well as other geysers. If you’d like to experience the largest log structure in the world, you can stay in the historic Old Faithful Inn, the most popular hotel in the park.
Located very close to Old Faithful, and also part of the Upper Geyser Basin, Biscuit Basin is home to a number of colorful hydrothermal features. Sapphire pool, one of the most beautiful blue pools in the park, erupted in 1959 and destroyed the biscuit-like rock formations that gave the basin its name. Other options include the yellow-colored Mustard Spring, Jewel Geyser, which erupts every seven to 10 minutes, Black Opal Pool and many more.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Not to be confused with the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is a little smaller but still magnificent. The canyon is about 20 miles long and features several waterfalls and various vantage points with breathtaking views. The cliff near the south rim of the canyon is known as Artist Point, and in the mornings a bright rainbow often appears by the falls.
The best place to see wildlife in Yellowstone is in Hayden Valley. The broad, grassy valley is frequented by bison, elk, grizzly bears, ducks, geese and pelicans. Several turnouts from the road provide scenic overlooks of the valley and there are two trails for hiker access. The valley is closed to off-trail foot travel to prevent disruption of the wildlife.
Standing on Fishing Bridge, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the 136-square-mile Yellowstone Lake, see the snow-capped mountains in the distance and observe fish. You can also kayak around the lake, getting up close to geysers, or go fishing. Other popular attractions in the area include the Fishing Bridge Museum and the Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
For a list of all natural features at Yellowstone National Park, visit the park website to plan your visit in advance.