Yellowstone National Park occupies an area of more than 3,000 square miles across three different states -Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. It contains a variety of beautiful landscapes, including canyons, forests, rivers and hot springs. It’s a place where you can go hiking, see all kinds of wildlife and visit its most famous landmark, the geyser known as Old Faithful. Yellowstone is a destination that’s great for family vacations if you appreciate the outdoors.
Highlights of Yellowstone
You can spend as many days or weeks as you have available to explore this vast national park. Most people, however, have limited time and must select a certain number of sites. The following are some of the highlights at Yellowstone.
- Old Faithful -This is a landmark everyone wants to see. It’s only one of the park’s many geysers, located in the area known as Geyser Country. If you wait a while, you will most likely see the geyser erupt. You may also want to visit the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center to learn more about geysers.
- Grand Loop Road -This is a 140 mile drive that will take you through many of the park’s most scenic areas, including Mammoth Hot Springs. Parts of the road are open all year round, as there are plenty of impressive landscapes and animals to see in winter as well as other seasons.
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - This spot in the northern part of the park has some magnificent views, overlooking a canyon and waterfall. Also close to some other places with notable views, such as Artist Point and Lookout Point.
- Lamar Valley -One of the best places in Yellowstone for wildlife viewing, especially bison. You are also likely to see bears, bighorn sheep and lots of other animals. The best times of day to see wildlife are near dawn and dusk. Be cautious when driving, as bison often cross the road.
- Tours and Treks -You can explore Yellowstone on your own or join a tour -or do a little of each. Some of the tours you might want to look into include the Lamar Valley Wildlife Excursion, which offers evening tours of this extremely active area for wildlife; The Wildland Trekking Company, which will lead you on exciting backpacking, ski and snowshoe tours of varying levels of difficulty; Yellowstone Geyser-Kayak Day Tours, which will give you the pleasure of seeing the park from the water, either on Yellowstone Lake or Lewis and Shoshone Lakes.
Where to Stay
Yellowstone National Park contains quite a few options for accommodations, including hotels, cabins and campsites. Keep in mind that places to stay inside the park tend to be rather basic and rustic.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins offers comfortable rooms in a scenic location near the lake. If you want to be near Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwestern section of the park, you could stay at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins, an older hotel where you’re likely to see elk roaming around nearby.
If you’re visiting in winter, you could stay at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins, which provides views of Old Faithful and a restaurant and bar on the premises. You can only reach this lodge via snowcoach. A convenient choice if you want to be near the airport, with a free airport shuttle, is Holiday Inn -West Yellowstone, a family friendly hotel that’s a short walk to Yellowstone Historic Center.
For very simple rustic cabins, Roosevelt Lodge Cabins offer small cabins and communal bathrooms in the Tower-Roosevelt area of Yellowstone. Campers also have several choices. Canyon Village Campground is a centrally located campground with areas for tents as well as RVs. Slough Creek Campground at Northeast Entrance Road is a little more out of the way, but provides a nice camping experience near a creek.