Yellowstone

The oldest National Parks in the world!

Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872. The park is located in the U.S state of Wyoming. A small part of the park is located in Montana and Idaho. It is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features. The park contains about half the world’s geysers. Also, you probably know or heard about the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest spring in the park and the 3rd largest spring in the world.

Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is an active super volcano?

You may not see any volcanoes but that’s because much of the entire park is a volcano.



How to get there?

Most people stop by Yellowstone while roadtripping in the USA. They also add Grand Teton National Park to their trip, which is located South of Yellowstone. There are 5 entrance stations but only 2 are open year-round (North and Northeast entrances). Read about access at each station at different times of year on the Yellowstone National Park’s website.

The nearest commercial airlines are located in Cody and Jackson (Wyoming), Bozeman and Billings (Montana) and Idaho Falls (Idaho). They serve round-year. The West Yellowstone airport is serviced from June to early September from Salt Lake City.

Where to sleep?

Camping is the best way to experience Yellowstone. Either inside the park or outside if campgrounds are full. There are 12 campgrounds (over 2,000 campsites) into the park, 5 reservation campgrounds and 7 first-come, first-served campgrounds. Prices range from $15 to $47.75. To make a reservation Click here

Backcountry camping & hiking: Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a Backcountry Use Permit is required for all over night stays. You can obtain your permit at the visitor centers or ranger stations, only in person and no more than 48h in advance of your trip. However, you can reserve your backcountry campsites in advance. For more information, visit Yellowstone National Park’s website.

Lodging: 9 lodging facilities are in the park (more than 2,000 rooms) but only 2 are open in the winter. To make a reservation Click here

What to do?

Depends on the season. Here’s a list of what you can do:

  • Snowmobile & Snowcoach Tours
  • Skiing and Snowshoeing
  • Backcountry camping & hiking
  • Day hiking
  • Bicycling (Spring & Fall)
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Guided Tour: a large choice of services are offered. Backpacking, biking, day hiking, boating, fishing, ski and snowshoeing, painting & photography tours
  • Ranger Programs
  • Horseback riding

 

Safety

Yellowstone is a “dangerous” place. Here’s some rules:

◇ The animals are wild and should never be approched. Always stay at least 100 yards (91m) away from wolves and bears (carry bear spray), and at least 25 yards (23m) away from all other animals. Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any animal and they can sprint 3 times faster than humans can run.

From Lamar Valley

◇ Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas. Hot Springs have injured and killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. You might of heard about the man who died after falling into a scalding hot spring in June 2016.

My experience

It was a road trip from Seattle, which is where I live. It was about 13h drive. My friend Dylan and I spent 5 days at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park in June 2016. We didn’t hike that much in Yellowstone. It was mostly a drive from point to another point and walk on the boardwalks to admire geysers, hot springs and mudpots.

North Entrance

How much did it cost?

This trip was pretty cheap. We used my friend’s car, so we didn’t have to rent one. We camped every night, which was about $10-15 per night. We mostly had to pay for food and gas, about $400 for both of us.

Day 1

We arrived a bit after 12 pm and started with Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. It’s a walk on boardwalks above steaming thermal features. We spent about 1h there.

Then, we drove on Lamar Valley, which is known for its wildlife. This is where I saw a bison for the first time. It was an exciting experience. We saw a bear (very far away), a Pronghorn, a bull moose and other animals.

Lamar Valley

Black bear

Bull moose

After that, we had to drive outside of the park to find a place to sleep because all campsites were full. We found one about 20min drive from the North entrance.

Day 2

We started the day early and stopped at these places:

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces (again) it was a bit different to see in the morning. The steam was more dense probably due to a colder temperature in the morning than in the afternoon.

 ◇ Norris Geyser Basin: It’s a nice 2.25 miles in the hottest and most changeable thermal area in Yellowstone. We did the whole tour in 2 different areas called Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. It was really impressive and beautiful. Each feature was totally different from all the others. We spent about 1h30 there.

Porcelain Basin
Back Basin

◇ Artists Paintpots, which is a 1 mile trail winds through brightly colored mudspots, geysers and steam vents. We spent about 30 min there.

Lower Geyser Basin: This is the largest Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. It’s scattered over a fairly large area and features regularly-erupting geysers, hot springs, and a mud pool. We walked on Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail and saw various hydrothermal features.

》Great Fontain Geyser and White Dome Geyser are located on the Firehole Lake Drive in the Lower Geyser Basin Area. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to see them erupt. Predictions are posted at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

White Dome Geyser

Midway Geyser Basin: This is where we could admire the beautiful and famous Grand Prismatic Spring. I went to Yellowstone especially for this place. It was on my bucket list since I saw it online before I came to the U.S.

Also, we saw Excelsior Geyser.  The blue color of the water is incredible and will make you wish you could swim in it but the temperature reaches 199°F (93°C) 😱😅

We spent about 30min, walking on boardwalks, which is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail.

Upper Geyser Basin has the highest concentration of geysers in the world and includes Old Faithful Geyser (see below). We only walked on boardwalks of Biscuit Basin. Then, we went to the Visitor Center where the Old Faithful Geyser is located.

 Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin
Sapphire Pool

》Old Faithful Geyser is the most famous geyser in the world. It’s a frequent and predictable geyser that erupts once approximately every 45 to 90 min, depending on the duration of the previous eruption, which is about 1.5 to 5min and a height of 110-185 ft. We had a chance to see the eruption. It was really cool.

Finally we spent the night in a campsite outside of the Park about 45min drive from the West Entrance.
This day was breath taking. We saw so much in a day. I had never seen places like this before.

Day 3

Mud Volcano

We stopped by Mud Volcano before we went hiking at Avalanche Peak, which is a short and steep hike, 4.2 mile round trip with 2,100 ft of elevation gain.

It has stunning views of the surrounding peaks and Yellowstone Lake at 10,566 ft elevation.

While the crowd was around the geysers and hot springs, we shared the top with a french couple with who I could speak french with 😉 We hung out there about 30 min before we hiked down and drove at Grand Teton National ParkNew blog post is coming soon

Other things to see?

Yellowstone National has more than 900 miles of hiking trails. Here’s other places I wanted to see but didn’t have time:

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Uncle Tom’s Trail Hike to Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Mt Washburn: strenuous 6.2 mile round trip, elevation 10,243 feet (3 122m). Stunning views from the summit fire tower.

 

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