Americans dream of visiting Yellowstone Park at least once in a lifetime, for good reason. The landscape is wild and beautiful, as it’s been for thousands of years.
Yellowstone is heavily forested. The most common trees in the park are lodge pole pine, fir, spruce, and aspen. A few years ago, major forest fires burned thousands of acres of forest in Yellowstone. Today, recovery is well underway with millions of young trees covering the mountains and valleys.
Yellowstone Park is famous for its numerous geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles. Old Faithful is Yellowstone’s best know geyser. Seeing Old Faithful erupt and shoot million of gallons of steaming hot water hundreds of feet high is an experience long remembered.
Tourists come to see the animals. Elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep, gray wolves, and grizzly bears call Yellowstone Park home. Coyotes, mountain lions and many species of birds, such as osprey and bald eagles, are common, too.
Wildlife is very abundant in Hayden Valley between Canyon Junction and Fishing Bridge. In the summer, a huge herd of buffalo with young calves is often seen grazing in the Hayden Valley along the Yellowstone River.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the most beautiful sights in the Park. The river flows through a deep gorge, cut into layers of yellow-colored rocks.
Near Canyon Village, the river cascades over the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. The Lower Falls is a special place to stop on every Yellowstone vacation. Osprey nest in the conifers high above the river’s gorge. Travel tip: Shoot lots of film here. Yellowstone Lake, in the southeastern part of the park, is a favorite of fishermen.
Yellowstone National Park is a big place, about 62 miles (100 km) across from north to south and 54 miles (87 km) from east to west, so plan your time carefully, when driving to and inside the Park.
Travel tip: stay overnight in West Yellowstone (pop. 1,353), Red Lodge (pop. 2,237), or Gardiner (pop. 875), Montana towns near Yellowstone, then enter the Park in the early morning hours. Cody (pop. 9,836) and Jackson (pop. 10,529), Wyoming, are also Yellowstone gateway cities and a good place to start a journey through Yellowstone. Plan carefully as not all Yellowstone entrances are open year-round.
Distance of gateway cities to Yellowstone Park entrances:
- West Yellowstone, MT to Yellowstone – 20 feet (6 m). Yellowstone Park entrance and the city limits of West Yellowstone are separated only by Boundary Avenue.
- Red Lodge. MT to Yellowstone – 68 miles (109 km). This route goes up the spectacular Beartooth Highway, a road built into the mountains. Many switchbacks on this road.
- Cody, WY to Yellowstone – 52 miles (84 km). This too is a scenic route, the road follows a path up into the mountains.
- Gardiner, MT to Yellowstone – 1 mile (1.6 km). Experience Mammoth Hot Springs near the entrance to the Park.
- Jackson, WY to Yellowstone – 57 miles (92 km). Jackson is a destination for celebrities and, as such, has much to offer visitors.
The National Park Service (NPS) wants visitors to have a good experience when visiting Yellowstone. To this end, NPS offers a special App to help visitors plan travel in Yellowstone. The park also publishes a Web page showing its operating hours and seasons.
Top lodging inside Yellowstone Park: Old Faithful Inn, 307-344-7311. Other lodging exists inside the Park too. All lodging in Yellowstone is handled by Xanterra Parks and Resorts (866) 439-7375.
The entrance fee for Yellowstone is increasing to $35.00 per private non-commercial vehicle, 7-day pass, for the 2018 season. Still a bargain.
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Photo Gallery of Yellowstone Park (Google images)
Copyright © 2018 John Sandy