If you are planning on visiting Yellowstone, particularly if its your first time, it can be a bit daunting trying to work out what you will be able to see and do in the time that you have. The first national park in the world covers a massive area and tempts visitors with so many natural attractions. So to help you, and in no particular order, here are our top 10 sites to visit in Yellowstone.
The geysers, hot springs, the abundant wildlife and the spectacular countryside are a lot to take in when your time is limited. Most people naturally want to see as many sights as possible in the time they have. With some careful planning we know from experience that these top 10 sites to visit in Yellowstone are achievable over a 3 day stay. Check out our article on top planning tips for Yellowstone which might also help here.
1. Old Faithful
Old Faithful at the Upper Geyser Basin, in the West of the Park, is the best known and most reliable of all the hydrothermal features. It erupts around every 92 minutes. It is so regular that Park staff provide a notice showing when it is next expected to erupt (give or take 10 minutes).
There is a large seated area in case you need to wait on the next ‘show’. Bear in mind that because Old Faithful erupts frequently and regularly it is a main attraction and can get busy. The Old Faithful Lodge is close by giving you access to all the facilities it provides.
2. Grand Prismatic Spring
Situated to the north of Old Faithfull at the Midway Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. You can access Grand Prismatic Spring from the Midway Geyser Basin boardwalk.
The colours here can be vibrant and range from the deep blue of the pool to the yellow and orange thermophiles at the outer edges. Its definately one not to miss.
3. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Okay so its not comparable with the Gand Canyon itself but it is pretty spectacular none the less. It is around 20 miles long and with the Yellowstone River running through it is at its most dramatic close to Canyon village. Its best seen from the viewing points along the road near Tower Junction.
4. The Wildlife
There is such an abundance and range of wildlife in Yellowstone that you are bound to get a sight of something exciting without looking too hard. With patience and a bit of luck you might even spot some of the top predators like bear and wolves or even coyote.
5. Lower Yellowstone Falls
The Yellowstone river flows over the lower falls within the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. At 308 feet high they are really impressive and said to twice the height of Niagara Falls.
6. The Firehole River
There are some spectacular views of the river as it makes it way close to the west side of the lower loop road. The steam rising from it as hot water is discharged from the geysers is really dramatic and atmospheric. Some sections can be a popular spot for fishermen trying their luck.
7. Yellowstone Lake
The largest high elevation lake in North America has a shoreline of over 140 miles. It covers part of the caldera of the super volcano and even has its own micro climate and creates its own clouds. Wildlife frequents the shoreline. The lake is also popular for fishing.
Dont miss the Lake Butte overlook for stunning views particularly at sunset. The Lake Yellowstone hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016. It is a National Historic Landmark and also well worth dropping by to have a look.
8. Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley is one of the best areas for wildlife spotting in Yellowstone. The Yellowstone River makes its way through the valley and forms marshes which attract a lot of wildlife. At first light it is spectacular as the sun starts to burn off the mist. We were lucky enough to see grizzly bear on the open ground at first light. It might be an early start to see the best of the valley but it is so worth it.
9. Lamar Valley
Located to the East of the upper loop Lamar Valley is one of the top locations in Yellowstone for wildlife spotting including bears and wolves. To get the best chance of seeing them you will have to be there by dawn or stay until after dusk. As Yellowstone is so vast, even if you get lucky the wildlife can be some distance away. But that’s the beauty of the natural world.
10. West Thumb Geyser Basin
Located on the West shore of Lake Yellowstone. The area has geysers, hot springs and bubbling paint pots, some of which are submerged in the lake close to the shore. There is a board walk that runs along areas of the shoreline that give you a good look at the features. If you coming into or out of Yellowstone from the South then this is an easy one to pick up.
So thats our top 10 sites to visit in Yellowstone. For more on Yellowstone National Park check out our article on top planning tips for Yellowstone which might also help and dont miss our Yellowstone National Park Gallery
Looking for More?
If you are looking for some further reading then below you’ll find more of our articles on Yellowstone. For related reading check out the Tag links as well at the bottom of the page.
More Reading on Yellowstone
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