We had heard from several people that this may be the most beautiful place on planet earth ... and now we have
seen for ourselves that it can be argued that it really is!
While we only had a mere two days before a big snowstorm moved in, we were able to see several sights that we will
talk about below to give you an idea on what splendors of nature you will be in for!
Yellowstone National Park
Known for its red-tinged canyon walls and awe-inspiring natural wonders like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, but you can't miss exploring some of the park's hiking trails and basins for striking views of the park's waterfalls, forests and alpine lakes. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone's trails are especially popular with adventurous travelers. Other park activities encompass everything from horseback riding in the back country to fishing at the lake, so plan to hit the sites that cater to your interests. Venture to Yellowstone Lake for a boating expedition or head north to Hayden Valley or northeast to Lamar Valley for excellent wildlife watching opportunities. The following is where we visited during our brief 2 day trip.
Grand canyon of Yellowstone
Formed over thousands of years of erosion caused by wind, water and other natural forces, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary attraction in the Canyon Village area and one of the park's most popular hiking spots. The canyon stretches approximately 20 miles long and nearly a mile wide. Just as remarkable as the canyon's terra-cotta hued cliff walls is its river, which is the longest undammed river in the country, meandering for more than 600 miles through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. Due to time restraints we were not able to make it down to the bottom portion, but we were able to take in some great views from above! Pictured on the left below is our best buddy Nigel Fields!
Get to the canyon early or late in the day to avoid rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists. Or better yet, visit in the offseason as we did in early October!
The world's most renowned geyser is a must-see for every Yellowstone visitor. Although it isn't the largest geyser in the world, Old Faithful's eruptions are definitely awe-inspiring, averaging around 130 feet high. As its name suggests, you can count on Old Faithful erupting approximately every hour and a half (the nearby visitors center can provide you with a more accurate schedule). There are several ways to see Old Faithful's power: You can join the hordes of tourists who gather around the perimeter or find a less hectic spot in the nearby Old Faithful Inn's dining room. More adventurous travelers can enjoy the mile-long hike out to Observation Point for a bird's-eye view of the Upper Geyser Basin. By visiting in October we were able to get a perfect front-row seat for this incredible display!
Grand prismatic geyser
The Midway Geyser Basin's Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States, approximately 370 feet in size and around 121 feet deep. But its rainbow waters are what really make it fascinating: While the center of the pool's cerulean hue is pretty characteristic, the deep reds, bright yellows and fiery oranges encircling the edges are not. These colors are caused by pigmented thermophilic bacteria that thrive on the rich minerals produced by the geothermic activity. The color of the bacteria is determined by the temperature of the water – the center is too hot to support life – which is then reflected when light hits the organisms. This natural wonder is one of the park's most photographed sights, so expect crowds when you visit. You may find fewer visitors if you arrive early, but fog is common until late in the morning on cooler days, so travelers recommend arriving around 10 a.m. Early October worked out perfect for very few people around!
Mammoth hot springs
Sitting just southwest of the North Entrance in the aptly named Mammoth Hot Springs area, Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the park's more unique attractions. Known for its terraces – formed over centuries of hot water bubbling up from the ground, cooling and depositing calcium carbonate – Mammoth Hot Springs' travertine formations are often described as a natural sculpture. As you explore, keep an eye out for elk grazing near the edge of the springs before terrace-hopping along numerous boardwalks down toward the bottom. Also, avoid direct contact with the water, which can easily cause burns. For some of the attraction's best views, I would suggest walking up to the Upper Terraces. Hikers, meanwhile, can enjoy longer treks on one of Yellowstone's hiking trails, many of which start near the springs.
We barely scratched the surface of Yellowstone
And are already looking forward to our next trip. We stayed in West Yellowstone for our two nights here. There are several hotels in the area. Do not expect five star hotels, however they are rustic and just right for the area. The frontier looking town is walking distance from all the hotels here, and worth a trip!
Hayden valley & Lamar Valley
Are two places on our radar for next time. Known as the best places to catch a glimpse of Yellowstone's fascinating wildlife is these lush valley's north of Yellowstone Lake and a highly visited gathering place for bison, elk, coyotes and grizzly bears. We did manage to spot one grizzly bear, and one black bear during this trip! Plus a lot of bison and elk. Be sure to visit our Instagram page for all the photos, videos and stories!