By Soren Rivero
Yellowstone National Park is one of the United States’ most iconic symbols of both natural beauty and preservation of heritage. With its expansive wilderness and awe-inspiring natural features, the park expands well over 2.2 million acres, comprising lush forests, geothermal wonders, diverse ecosystems, and plenty of adventures.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. To help you out, here are some of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park.
Outdoor Activities & Adventures
Thrill-seekers and those who simply enjoy an active lifestyle will find plenty of fun things to do in Yellowstone National Park. One of the best things to do is simply hike around, and luckily, there are trails catering to all levels of fitness and endurance. From easy and picturesque walks around geothermal wonders to more challenging treks through the backcountry, the park provides endless opportunities for exploration.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone presents visitors with an ideal location for hiking, as well as photography. Keep an eye out for its thundering waterfalls and striking rock formations. You can also enjoy fishing, camping, or boating on Yellowstone Lake.
There are a variety of other hiking paths in Yellowstone National Park to lookout for. Namely Beaver Ponds Loop, a moderate trail at the peak of Liberty Cap, which offers a roughly 5-mile hike brimming with views of wildlife, their habitats, and numerous ponds. Trout Lake is a rewarding, 1.5-mile hike that presents visitors with a chance to see a gorgeous reflective lake with otters and bears foraging for food. Adventurous hikers will want to take the 6-mile Mount Washburn Trail, where the ultimate reward is seeing the park from about 10,243 feet high.
Explore Geothermal Landmarks
By far, one of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park is to explore its unparalleled collection of geothermal wonders. The Old Faithful, in particular, is one that stands out as an enduring symbol of the park’s grace and intricacy. Visitors can witness this natural spectacle erupt with water to heights of over 100 feet in the air, punctuating the sky with a breathtaking display of nature's power. Other marvelous displays include the Upper Geyser Basin and the Grand Prismatic Spring, both providing visitors an opportunity to witness the magic of the Earth's geothermal activity up close.
Yellowstone is renowned for its diverse wildlife which includes a plethora of majestic creatures like grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Get an intimate glimpse into the complex web of life by observing wildlife, just be sure to keep your distance so as to not disturb their peace.
If you need a recommendation on where to go, consider tracking down Lamar Valley, often referred to as the "American Serengeti.” This area is a hotspot for wildlife viewing, offering visitors a chance to witness bison herds grazing alongside pronghorn antelope and packs of wolves prowling in the distance. Wildlife enthusiasts and casual nature lovers will enjoy these exciting things to do in Yellowstone National Park.
No need to go to a museum to learn the basics of Yellowstone National Park, as the landmark itself serves as an outdoor classroom, offering educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. The park's various visitor centers and educational programs provide insights into the park's geology, ecology, and cultural history. The Yellowstone Association Institute, through its educational tours and field seminars, facilitate a deeper understanding of the park's natural wonders. Of course, you can always visit the Museum of the Yellowstone to learn more.
Go on a Cultural/Historical Expedition
Did you know that Yellowstone boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage? One such example is The Old Faithful Inn, distinguishable by its rustic architecture, which stands as a testament to the park's historical significance and the development of the National Park System.
You may also identify how the park preserves the legacy of Native American tribes throughout your time here. Evidence of past Native life is identifiable via the park’s conservation of one National Historical Trail, over 840 historic buildings, and roughly 2,000 recorded prehistoric and historic Native American archeological sites. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park if you’re looking to go beyond the mere physical beauty of the park.