Yellowstone National Park… Where to even begin?
From the minute that we arrived at the entrance to this beautiful national park, I was in love. I think when people talk about Yellowstone, the biggest thing that comes immediately to mind is the geysers—at least in my experience. While the geysers alone are worth visiting, there is SO much more that the park offers. We were in the area exploring for three full days, and still I feel that we did not even make a dent in all the amazing wonders Yellowstone leaves to be found.
Scary articles are always being posted about Yellowstone having a super volcanic eruption soon, and it saddens me because I feel as though a lot of people are missing out on the beauty of this national park. They rightfully interpret “soon” as any day, when scientists admit any super volcano erupting could very well be hundreds or thousands of years away. With the eruption of Yellowstone being so rare a type, it is nearly impossible still to pinpoint an exact time it would blow. They can mostly just give estimates with very large margins of error, so I hope that until something is more solidly predicted, people are not missing out on such a spectacular spot in the universe. An eruption is a very legitimate fear to have, but Mother Nature has really outdone herself with Yellowstone National Park, making it the perfect place to become introspective and connect with the world around you. 🙂
My husband and I have always had the goal of visiting all the national parks in the country, and while we have not been able to be as proactive recently towards completing that goal, we still have been to a handful. So far, Yellowstone is my favorite. For this trip, my younger sister, Kaylee (Instagram @kayleenesss), joined us on a road trip from California. We went up through the tip of Arizona and into Utah, before heading up through the Eastern part of Idaho to Rexburg. Each morning we would wake up early and drive from Rexburg into Yellowstone, which was fun because each of those days we drove into the park we got to be in three states: Idaho, Montana briefly, and Wyoming. You want to talk about seeing a lot of diversity in your environmental surroundings! So so serene and beautiful. It was roughly 80 miles to drive, which took us a little over an hour each way, but it was so worth it since it was really our only option (most places close by were either already booked or very pricey), and scenic.
Getting through the park is a big feat in and of itself. We entered the national park at the West Entrance, and basically there are two loops to go through to see all the main tourist attractions. Assume that these will take a long time to get through! Even on a slower day, it packs a lot of mileage. When it is peak season, there is a ton of traffic. Don’t worry too much about being stuck in the car for so much time, just roll your windows down and enjoy where you are at! Nevertheless, you should account for this, and plan on a multi-day trip full of jam-packed days. We did the upper loop the first day, and then the larger loop the second. The third day we drove down by Old Faithful again, since we hadn’t seen it erupt, before heading towards the South Entrance to exit and head through Grand Teton and Colorado (an adventure for another day). Fortunately, we ended up able to see Old Faithful active after a while of patiently waiting, and the path leading from the South Entrance was full of gorgeous foliage.
Our must-sees and favorite parts of the park (for now—there is so much more to explore!) are:
- Both Lower and Upper Falls (Lower Falls was my personal favorite part of the trip!)
- Highlights: Upper Falls is close to 110 feet! I know there is a spot you can go that gets you right at the top brink of this waterfall, but, we were playing major tourist, so I more had my eyes on Lower Falls. Whenever we go back, I would love to explore this fall more, because it is still very glorious!! But, alas, Lower Falls. It is so beautiful and boasts over a 300 ft drop! We hiked to down to the top of this fall which was breathtaking. Be warned: this hike is a very steep, switchback incline that can be dangerous and strenuous. I wouldn’t suggest it for kiddos that might want to mess around at all, or anyone that has health challenges. You are over 7000 feet in elevation too, so if you aren’t used to that—just be prepared. Know: it is incredible and worth it if you can do it! Looking down from the top, it is so deafening and surreal. The power of nature is wondrous. Waterfalls are my very favorite, so standing on top of the roaring water was the best moment for me.
- Grand Prismatic Spring
- Highlight: I am sure you have seen somewhere, somehow, a picture of this hot spring. Known for its rainbow colors, it’s a beautifully unique sight. I would recommend doing the hike nearby to have a fuller view of it. It is grand when you are level with it, but I wish that we would have done the hike to see from a bird’s eye point of view the vibrant prism of colors it offers. Personally, I don’t think you have experienced Yellowstone if you haven’t seen this spring!
- Yellowstone Lake
- Highlight: One of the most incredible things about Yellowstone National Park is the diversity it has. One moment you are watching giant waterfalls cascade down a mountain, and then the next you are plugging your nose wandering through hot springs and geysers. Then, all the sudden, you just have this vast lake? It sums up Yellowstone so well. It has everything to such a mind blowing point. There are geysers under the lake which is so crazy to me. At first glance, it might look like any other beautiful, large lake, but really it has some of the most unique features of any lake in the country! I would love to kayak on it, which they are offering as professional led tours on the water!
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
- Highlight: The Upper and Lower Falls are at the borders of this phenomenon, so what’s not to love!? Seriously. What. A. View. To see a canyon that is 1200 feet deep in places, and double that in width, is so AWESOME. It really puts the little things in life into perspective. What I love though about this Grand Canyon in Yellowstone is that the sides are oxidizing, and there are also trees. The result is a world of color ranging from rusty reds to bright green. The whole area must not be missed.
- Tower Fall
- Highlight: While not the grandest, this is probably the most majestic main waterfall in the park. It is simply so picturesque. There are also a lot of hikes around it that are absolutely gorgeous. We didn’t get the chance to do more than an easy trail (as I have said—Yellowstone is so big, with SO much to see!) but from photos of hikers I have seen, all the different angles and views within the forest seem beyond worth every strenuous mile.
- Inspiration Point (A really close second to my personal favorite)
- Highlight: Honestly, all there is to say about this is prepare to be inspired. Amazing. The name is certainly fitting.
A note: There are so many beautiful points of the park that describing the best parts of each would be exhaustive for one post. As you may notice, Old Faithful is not in my top sights to see; mostly, this is due to us having to wait so long to see any action, and the crowds get heavy which can be uncomfortable in the heat of summer. I would chase waterfalls for a living if I could, so you’ll always find my favorite destinations and views to be those that include falls, or rivers, or majestic colorful mountains.
To sum it up, Yellowstone National Park should be on every person’s travel and nature bucket list! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out! I would love to connect or help you in any way I can on your endeavors.
Ta ta for now!