Yellowstone National Park – oldest national park in the world
Yellowstone National Park, which largest part lies in the state of Wyoming (91% of the park) is a real gem among national parks. The rest of the park is spread among two other US states – Montana (7.6%) and Idaho (1.4%). Yellowstone National Park was established back in 1872 and is, therefore, the oldest national park in the world.
Yellowstone National Park was named after the Yellowstone River, which flows through the park. About 80% of the park is covered by forests, the rests are meadows and water areas.
Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park, USA by David Fulmer
Main attractions of Yellowstone National Park
The park is very popular among tourists mainly due to its hot springs, geysers, bubbling mud pits, canyons, waterfalls and eroded lava flows. However, there are also lots of wild animals including herds of free-ranging bison that make this area really unique and interesting!
Geysers of the Yellowstone National Park
A unique collection of geysers are among the biggest tourist attractions of the park. There are around a hundred waterfalls and a lot of hot volcanic geysers. This volcanic activity is the remnant of a huge volcanic eruption, which occurred here some 640 thousand years ago.
Water from rain and melting snow get to the depth of 1 mile where it meets with a hot rock layer lying on the magma and the water is then heated up to 752°F (400°C). The pressure is then increasing rapidly and the water gets back to the surface.
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Jeff Gunn
The most famous geyser is that of Old Faithful, which regularly gushes to a height of 106 feet (32 meters) to 185 feet (56 meters). Eruptions can be even up to 5 minutes long and during that time the geyser is able to spew around 8,400 US gallons (30,000 liters) of boiling water.
You don’t have to worry about the timetables, as the frequency of the eruptions ranges from 45 to 125 minutes.
Another popular geyser in this national park is Beehive Geyser. It can be found not far from famous Old Faithful geyser along with several other geysers and springs. However, this one does not erupt so often, only once in 8 to 24 hours.
Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, USA by U.S. National Park Service
Waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park
The most iconic waterfall perhaps is the one located in Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park known here as Lower Yellowstone Falls. The waterfall is 308 feet (94 meters) high and with its volume of up to 8,400 cu ft/s (240 m3/s) is the largest one in the Rocky Mountains in the USA.
Lower Yellowstone Falls in Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone National Park, USA by Tony Hisgett
And if you have already seen Lower Falls then you must go further to feel the energy of this river in Upper Falls. It is not so iconic though sitting on the top of this waterfall is an amazing experience!
These waterfalls have not been officially discovered until the 19th century. It was Baptise Ducharme, a French fur trapper who discovered them in 1824.
Upper Falls, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Billy Hathorn
Fairy Falls are another amazing waterfalls that worth a visit. They are made by Fairy Creek and on your hiking trip to this area you will also see Grand Prismatic Spring, which is one of the most beautiful places in the park.
The hiking trail begins at the banks of the Firehole river at the point known as Fairy Falls. It is an easy and pleasant walk however you should reserve 2-3 hours for this trip.
Fairy Falls, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Alec
Grand Prismatic Spring will amaze you with its size as it is 370 feet (110 meters) wide and has a depth of 121 feet (40 meters). It is the largest one of all hot springs in the United States and the third largest in the whole world.
The two bigger ones are in New Zealand and Dominica. It’s really colorful and the water temperature is 160 °F (70 °C).
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, USA by James St. John
But there are more waterfalls in the national park. Another great spot you should not miss is Osprey Falls often considered the most beautiful place in the park.
You can get close to the waterfalls by following a trail and enjoy spectacular views over the Sheepeater Canyon. The round-trip is 8.8 miles/14.1 kilometers long and it is quite difficult.
Union Falls is another amazing waterfall in the national park. With its height of 250 feet (76 meters) is just after Lower Yellowstone Falls the second highest waterfall in the park.
Union Falls, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Metrodyne
Mud volcanoes and Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
The most popular places in the park also include the mud volcanoes, even though they are bubbling with the gas, which smells really bad due to the presence of sulfur compounds.
In the northern part of the park, you can then find another great natural wonder in the form of travertine terraces called the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Devin Stein
The mineral water that flows through a set of white terraced pools continually brings new elements to this place. However many springs have already dried up, and some parts of terraces, therefore, became dry as well.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, USA by Jim Trodel
Frequent wildfires in the Yellowstone National Park
The park often suffers from frequent fires. However the scientists have found that these fires do not harm the local ecosystem, but they rather significantly contribute to its further development.
So if the fire originates spontaneously and naturally, the offices leave it as it is and do not try to extinguish it. It must not, however, get to such large proportions as in 1988, when after a very dry summer fire destroyed 36% of the park area.
Wildfire in Yellowstone National Park, USA by YellowstoneNPS
The main reason for this tragedy was a strong wind, the fire quickly expanded and even 25 thousand firefighters could not get it under control. At that time Yellowstone was on fire for around 4 long months, when finally autumn rains stopped the further devastation.
Animals of the Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is home to a huge number of wild animals. Herds of free-ranging bison are probably the most impressive for every visitor.
Other residents are wapiti deer, moose, coyotes, grizzly bears, wolfs and beavers. The local pristine nature, without any human activity, serves them as an ideal refuge.
Bison in Yellowstone National Park, USA by Dcrjsr
Grizzly bear and wolf, Yellowstone National Park, USA by YellowstoneNPS
National Park Service is an organization that takes care about the park and protects hundreds of other parks and reserves across the United States. Around 3 million visitors make their way to the Yellowstone National Park every single year to admire its beauty.
Where to stay in Yellowstone National Park
There are lots of accommodation possibilities in and around Yellowstone National Park. I would recommend Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch which is situated just between Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. So from one place you will be able to easily explore both of the US national parks.
Additionally, it’s not just a common hotel, but a real Indian Island lodge featured even with saloon!