1872: National Park
Rating (1-5): Unrated
About the SiteThe world's first national park, Yellowstone is the crown jewel of the National Park Service. Established in 1872, Yellowstone is one of the last few large natural areas remaining in the lower 48 states. The geothermal nature of the park is due to an ancient huge volcano, the heat of which still feeds the approximate 10,000 geysers and hot springs, the greatest grouping on the planet.
The central part of Yellowstone is a volcanic plateau, with elevations averaging over 8,000 feet above sea level. All around this plateau, mountain ranges rise 2,000 to 4,000 feet higher. The volcanic activity began 50 to 55 million years ago, and is still going strong.
What You're Going to SeeThe park is perhaps most famous for the bubbling mud pots and the geysers. Old Faithful geyser, in the center of the park, is known world-wide. There are thousands of geysers and hot springs, signs that Yellowstone is close to the heat that percolates just below the earth's crust. The vast majority of the Park is in Wyoming, with overlapping areas in Montana and Idaho.
There are 1,000 miles of trails in the Park, over 300 miles of them paved. There are endless supplies of scenic views along any trail. Visitors can see bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, pronghorn, and trumpeter swans. Some of Yellowstone's most scenic areas lie along the Yellowstone River. Near Canyon, there are spectacular views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Inspiration Point and Artist Point. Nearby, a trail leads to the top of Mount Washburn, where visitors can get a view of the entire Park.
There are plenty of things to do at Yellowstone, including fishing, hiking, camping, boating, swimming (brr -- cold!), bicycling, ranger-led talks and demonstrations, bird- and wildlife-watching, canoeing, horseback riding, picnicking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and tours in enclosed snowcoaches.
Personal ObservationsI was about 5 when I last saw Yellowstone. I remember Old Faithful, and some bubbling mudpot areas that smelled like sulpher. I love that smell. I want to take my family one day.
Getting ThereThere are five entrances into Yellowstone, from the north, northeast, east, south, and west. So, come from any direction, head toward northwestern Wyoming, and you'll get to Yellowstone.
Nearby AttractionsDirectly to the south is John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, and then Grand Teton National Park.