Five Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park

Things to do in Yellowstone

Located mostly in the northwestern corner of Wyoming and extending partially into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States and features millions of years of geologic forces and centuries of human history. Home to mountains, grassy valleys, waterfalls and geysers, Extending 3,472 square miles, Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined! Yellowstone’s size might seem overwhelming, but most of the park’s major features can be found along the main thoroughfare, Grand Loop Road. Here are five essential things to do in Yellowstone park for families:

How to Get to Yellowstone

1. Old Faithful

The most popular of Yellowstone National Park sights, 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 — because it’s the most popular hotel in the park, you should make your reservation as early as possible, up to a year in advance.

Things to do in Yellowstone: Visit Old Faithful True to its name, Old Faithful geyser erupts about every 90 minutes. More than a dozen other geysers and geothermal features are within walking distance of the famous Yellowstone attraction.


2. Biscuit Basin

A short drive from Old Faithful, another part of the Upper Geyser Basin is Biscuit Basin. Biscuit Basin is home to a number of colorful hydrothermal features and a Yellowstone must-see. Sapphire Pool, one of the most beautiful blue pools in the park, erupted after an earthquake in 1959 and destroyed the biscuit-like rock formations that gave the basin its name. Other options include the yellow-colored Mustard Spring, Black Opal Pool, and Jewel Geyser, which erupts every seven to 10 minutes.

What to do in Yellowstone: Visit Biscuit Basin Visitors to Yellowstone’s Biscuit Basin won’t find anything that looks like a biscuit — those unique rock formations were destroyed by an earthquake 60 years ago — but they’ll see the colorful pools that remain.


3. Grand Canyon of the 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 lookout points with breathtaking views. The cliff near the southern rim of the canyon is known as Artist Point, and in the mornings a bright rainbow often appears by the falls.

What to See in Yellowstone: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone The Yellowstone River has eroded the relatively soft rock in the area to create a 20-mile-long grand canyon, revealing a variety of colors caused by hydrothermal activity.


4. Hayden Valley

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 walking and hiking to prevent disruption of the wildlife.

What to do in Yellowstone: Hayden Valley wildlife viewing The eastern section of Grand Loop Road overlooks Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley, which is home to large herds of bison and other wildlife.


5. Yellowstone Lake

Standing on Fishing Bridge, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the 136-square-mile Yellowstone Lake and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. You can also kayak around the lake, getting up close to geysers, or go fishing. Other things to do in Yellowstone National Park include the Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center and the Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins.

Things to do in Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone Lake At almost 1.5 miles above sea level, Yellowstone Lake completely freezes over in the winter and averages a chilly 41 degrees year-round. Visitors can enjoy it from a kayak or boat, from a restaurant table or from a picnic area along Grand Loop Road.


Ready to visit Yellowstone? Check out this guide to planning a national park vacation.


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