Thousands of Americans flock to Yellowstone National Park each year to experience adventure, nature, and wildlife, and after surveying Planetware’s suggested list of attractions, tips, and tours, you’ll be joining them!
Yellowstone is the oldest national park still operating in the United States today, as it was originally established in 1872 in the northwest corner of Wyoming by President Ulysses S. Grant. The park spans an area of nearly 3,500 square miles across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and it comprises lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain rangeswithin that landmass. The park is famous for its abundance of wildlife and its numerous geothermal features such as the Old Faithful geyser or the Yellowstone Caldera, which is the largest supervolcano on the North American continent.
When you arrive at the park’s gates and pay the $35 admittance fee, you’re free to enter and leave the park as many or as few times as you’d like over a seven-day period. With that being said, it might greatly benefit you and your traveling party to book a stay at a resort, campground, or spa within the park grounds so that not a moment can be missed. Accommodations range from rustic campgrounds to hotel-quality resorts, so you’ll be able to stay as comfortably authentic as you’d prefer!
Some of the most exciting and more memorable features of a weekend or week spent at Yellowstone National Parkare those unplanned sights seen from your car while traversing the park. Many visitors take part in a self-drive tour by filling up their gas tank and setting forth on The Grand Loop, a 142-mile road that curves around several of the park’s natural sights in the shape of a figure-eight. Driving the loop typically gives park visitors a “greatest hits” look at some of the more awe-inspiring aspects of Yellowstone, as it allows you to visit Old Faithful, the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and so much more at your own pace.
If you plan to drive the entire length of either loop of “The Grand Loop,” be ready to spend anywhere between four and seven hours due to traffic, though for many the time spent waiting isn’t nearly as dreadful as the stand-still traffic of interstate congestion. The point of the self-driving tour is to allow you and your traveling party the agency in stopping your vehicle and exploring the cliffs, lakefronts, wildlife viewing areas, and expansive plateaus at your leisure. By trusting in your own interest-based itinerary, you might be sitting down, overlooking a vista when you spot an emerging herd of buffalo before any other park visitor notices.
Outside of the loop, you can find one of the most unforgettable, stand-out hits of the park when you visit Yellowstone Lake. Resting over Yellowstone Caldera at a staggering height of 7,737 ft, this is the largest, high-altitude lake in North America, and it’s home to a collection of submerged, nutrient-rich fountains beneath the lake’s surface. These fountains supply the lake with unique plant life and also make the area the ideal fisherman’s paradise, as Yellowstone Lake also houses the largest population of cutthroat trout in North America.
Besides fishing, the area is also home to an abundance of waterfowl species, which is viewable from the townships of Lake Village, Fishing Bridge, and Bridge Bay, which all house campgrounds, motels, and other leisure facilities along the lake’s northwest shore. Alternatively, one can find a bevy of naturally-occurring, geological features such as geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, and hot springs in the West Thumb, an area found on the West shore of Yellowstone Lake.
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