This will be my concluding post on Yellowstone national park and before we venture onto our new destination, here is a quick roundup of what you can do in Yellowstone national park.
Yellowstone is world’s first and most significant national park, and it’s rich and varied topography, landscapes and flora-fauna has something for everyone. From off-beat hiking trails to geyser gazing sights, or chasing the herds of bison or one-to-one interaction with wolves and bears, fishing, camping and rafting you can choose anything that cater to your interest. As I have said before, it is an experience. So do not rush to see everything, it is vast and cannot be covered in two-three days.
So, here goes the top priorities or must- see sights before charting out new territories on your own.
Old Faithful – There is much more to Yellowstone than Old faithful. It is touristy, yet it will enthrall you with its awe-inspiring geyser that repeatedly and predictably erupts every 45-90 minute. It is worth watching the spectacle away from crowd gathering, follow the trail to Observation point and you will love it. Perspective matters.
Grand canyon of Yellowstone – some 1200 mile long, beautifully carved by Yellowstone river, Grand canyon of Yellowstone is perhaps the most breathtaking sight inside the Yellowstone. The pastel shades of brown, ocher, pink and yellow hues painted on the canyon walls are sight to behold.
Lamar and Hayden valley – Both Hayden and Lamar valley offers excellent view for wildlife watching. Herds of bison grazing with their young calves, bears, pronghorns, elks relaxing near the water bodies, osprey, coyotes, bald eagle and many more species.
Norris geyser basin – the hottest and most dynamic thermal areas in Yellowstone. Home to world’s tallest and currently-active geyser, Steamboat with eruption height of 300 feet or more. But it is unpredictable and irregular. Porcelain basin trail is one of the prime attraction of Norris geyser basin – about a mile long, the hike is truly mesmerizing by presence of bleached basin of steaming vents, milky colored steaming landscape, barren of tree, spouting geysers, bubbling and boiling hot springs, and colorful runoff channels.
Mammoth terraces – When we were planning for Yellowstone, this is the one place that I wanted to see desperately. If I ever compiled a list of “things to see before I die”, it will definitely top that list. The breathtaking pictures that I have seen in books, magazines and on Internet has mesmerized me long back. On our day tour we had befriended with an Asian couple who had traveled half the world to just see these beautiful terraces. But on that day, unfortunately it was closed for some reasons. Such things can happen, may not be life-shattering event for me, but for them it was. Travel changes our perspective. The real discoveries are not seeking new landscapes but having new perspective towards life.
Mammoth hot springs is large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine, beautifully and intricately designed by nature. Its history of geological formation is equally enthralling. Boardwalks cover about 1.75 miles around the Upper and Lower Terraces.
Hot springs – You will see many hot springs on your trip to Yellowstone, each one as beautiful and colorful as the other but if I have to pick the very best ones, I have to hike all the way to the Biscuit basin in the Upper geyser basin for the Sapphire pool. While Crested pool in lower geyser basin can give you an idea of how beautiful these hot springs can be, Grand Prismatic spring five miles north of Old Faithful and third largest spring in the world is the most photographed and iconic spring of Yellowstone. The rainbow band of orange, yellow, green enclosing the deep blue water of the spring is a sight that will enchant you. Morning glory in the Upper geyser basin is another attractive hot spring but lately its colors has been changed due to human intervention. This is a perfect example to show how fragile these geothermal features are and how our superstitious believes have destroyed it.
Fountain paint pot trail – Fountain Paint Pot trail is one of the most interesting trail of Yellowstone park. It lies in the Lower Geyser basin which is scattered over wide expanse of area and is characteristically marked by all the geothermal features like geysers, fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs. This unique feature made this part of the Yellowstone stand apart from the rest.
West Thumb geyser basin – is touted as most scenic and picturesque geyser basin in Yellowstone. Eruptions are less here but its beauty lies in the serene colorful blue color chromatic springs partially clouded in steams venting out from it with backdrop of azure blue beautiful Yellowstone lake.
Where to stay – Staying at Yellowstone would be totally different experience but you will need prior reservations (one year advance) for Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone hotels and cabins. Besides that there are plenty of other staying options scattered around towns of west Yellowstone, Jacksone hole, Bozeman and other lodge cabins inside the Yellowstone national park.
We had stayed at the West Yellowstone town and it offers few lodging, boarding options and food was good.
Hope You have loved our series on Yellowstone National Park,
Stay tuned for more to come,