Yellowstone National Park truly is one of the great American destinations, and judging from the fact that it is on pace to break its all time attendance record this year, many of you agree. But for those of you who still haven’t made the trip for yourself, here are ten great things to do while you’re there:
1. Catch an Old Faithful Eruption
Sure, it may be the most touristy thing to do in all of Yellowstone, but it’s still a required activity. Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world, erupts every 90 minutes, give or take a few, and when it does blow, it’s still a fun sight to see. Grab a seat plenty early though, as the old smoking hole still draws quite a crowd. While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the brand new visitor center as well.
2. Take a Hike!
With more than 1100 miles of trails, you can spend a lifetime trekking Yellowstone without getting bored. With hikes ranging in length from a few hours to a few days, you’ll find yourself wandering through spectacular and rugged backcountry that is both remote and scenic. Just be sure you plan your hike accordingly and have all the necessary permits.
3. Cycle the Park
One of the best ways to take in the sights in Yellowstone is by bike. You can opt to bring your own or rent one in the Old Faithful area, then hit the road for the opportunity to see the park in a unique new way. Just don’t forget that road elevations vary between 5300 and 8860 feet, which means a brisk ride can really take your breath away.
Yellowstone is home to the largest collection of free roaming wildlife in the lower 48 states, with bison, elk, deer and sheep prominently on display. The appearance of a bear, either black or grizzly, always draws a crowd and moose, coyote, and even mountain lions are seen from time to time. With this wide variety of animals on display, a trip through Yellowstone just might be the North American equivalent of a safari.
5. Take in the Sights at Artist Point
The park is filled with breathtaking scenery, but few places are as amazing as Artist Point, a location that overlooks the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone” and the beautiful Lower Falls. You’ll lured in by the promise of a great photo opportunity but you’ll find yourself lingering to take in every detail of one of the most stunning landscapes you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
6. Stay the Night at a Yellowstone Lodge
Yellowstone is huge, encompassing more than 2.2 million acres and hundreds of miles of road. It’ll take you several days to properly explore it all, and with a number of great lodges within the park borders, there is no need to leave to find a place to stay. From the Old Faithful Inn to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, the accommodations range from rustic to luxurious, with something that fits within the budget of just about everyone.
7. Paddle Lake Yellowstone
With all of the geothermal activity in Yellowstone, smoking geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots are a common sight. One of the best ways to get close to those natural wonders is by kayak and paddling company OARS offers just such a trip. The 2-3 hour paddle allows you to drift in close to the Lakeshore Geysers, while the knowledgeable guides offer insights into what’s happening just below the Earth’s surface.
8. Go Wolf Spotting
Sure, wildlife viewing has already made the list, but the wolves of Yellowstone deserve their own mention. The predators were reintroduced to the park back in 1995, and have been a point of interest ever since, with a dedicated group of wolf spotters tracking their every movement. If you spot one of them peering through their powerful spotting scopes, they’re usually more than happy to share their view, and if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of the mysterious and elusive creatures in the wild.
9. Go Fly Fishing
With over 100 lakes and a thousand miles of rivers and streams within the park, Yellowstone offers anglers some of the best fishing in all of North America. There are several varieties of game fish to reel in, including rainbow, brook, and lake trout, as well as mountain whitefish, amongst others. The clear, pristine waters of the park are a fisherman’s dream come true, just don’t forget to purchase a permit before you make that first cast.
10. Have Some Winter Fun Too!
Typically, the summer months are the busiest time of year in terms of visitors for Yellowstone, but there is plenty to see and do during the winter as well. Active and adventurous travelers can don cross country skis or snowshoes and explore the trails on foot, or they can elect to take a guided ride on a snowmobile or in a snowcoach, going well into the backcountry. The park is much quieter during those months, but still well worth the visit. With a fresh blanket of snow, the landscapes may be even more beautiful.
Back in 1872, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park, and now, nearly 140 years later, it remains one of the most spellbinding places on Earth. No matter what season you go, you’ll find plenty of fun and outdoor adventure to last a lifetime.