Your trip is planned and you’re off to visit Yellowstone National Park – hurray! From our location in downtown Jackson Hole, you’re just 55 miles (about 90 minutes) to the South entrance to Yellowstone. You can easily head up for a day in park during your visit and hit several of the incredible wonders that call this amazing park home. Whether you just have a few hours to take it all in, or a few days to experience as much as possible, here are our top 8 must-see attractions in Yellowstone National Park!
1. Old Faithful
Old Faithful is one of the most iconic symbols of Yellowstone and is likely to be at the top of your itinerary. This world-renowned impressive geyser erupts every hour and a half (they’ll have the times posted!), so make sure you plan accordingly and get a good viewing spot. Eruptions can clear between 130-180 feet, so have your camera ready and enjoy the show!
2. Fountain Paint Pot Trail
A short drive north of Old Faithful is the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. This area features bubbling, gurgling mud pots that look out of this world! In the summer and fall, the Paint Pot area will be thick mud and have a pink tint to the clay. A short ½ mile boardwalk will provide you a closer look and these strange attractions.
3. Grand Prismatic Spring
The largest hot spring in the country, this colorful geothermic pool is roughly 200 – 300 feet in diameter and over 100 feet deep. The absolutely stunning rainbow waters make this attraction particularly awe-inspiring. Coloration comes from pigmented thermophilic bacteria that thrive on the minerals present in the spring and generate a range of hues including reds, yellows, and oranges. You can take the boardwalks around the spring for a close look, or enjoy a nice hike up to a viewpoint for an overheard view (the best for seeing the rainbow of colors).
4. West Thumb Geyser Basin
Back east from Old Faithful is the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. The Lake was formed by a large volcanic explosion that occurred approximately 150,000 years ago. The resulting collapsed volcano later filled with water forming an extension of Yellowstone Lake. Along the shores, you can see the Geyser Basin with hot springs steaming with beautiful color. Take time to find the Abyss Pool, with its seemingly bottomless emerald blue hue.
5. Yellowstone Lake
Not only is Yellowstone Lake the largest body of water in the park, it’s the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in the entire country. Once the lake unfreezes in early summer, it’s perfect for kayaking or boating and to see the park from a different perspective. Be on the lookout for wildlife – it’s a great spot to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, bison or bear!
6. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
This stunning, massive canyon was formed over thousands of years of erosion and is a popular hiking area for locals and visitors alike. The canyon stretches over 20 miles long and a half a mile wide, with impressive red-orange canyon walls that are truly breathtaking. Lace up those hiking boots to get up close and personal, or opt for a picnic and some photographic memories.
7. Hayden Valley
This stunning, sweeping valley is a known gathering place for wildlife such as elk, bison, birds, coyotes, and even the occasional grizzly bear. You can stay in your vehicle and view from afar, or take a hike and stretch your legs for the best perspective. Hikers can choose from two trails – Hayden Valley & Mary Mountain – that will take you along the Yellowstone River and alongside geothermic features.
8. Mammoth Hot Springs
At the North entrance of the park (along the Montana/Wyoming border), you’ll witness the Mammoth Hot Springs and Terraces. This ever-changing area is one of the most dynamic places in the park. The hot springs and limestone interact to make beautiful multicolored terraces.
Now that you’ve got our top spots to check out, hopefully this helps you on your next visit to America’s First National Park. We hope that you’ll fall in love with Yellowstone just as we have!