Top 10 Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

Planning a short trip or vacation in Yellowstone?

When it comes to top national parks in the US, Yellowstone Park is easily one of the top 3 national parks to visit in the country. Yellowstone is truly mind blowing and besides being a fantastic place to enjoy fun activities all year-round and see wildlife, it offers the opportunity to photograph some of the nation’s most iconic natural landmarks.

There are literary dozens of things one can do in Yellowstone but to keep it nice and simple I'll be rounding up 10 things I think every visitor should do in Yellowstone National Park:

Wildlife spotting in Lamar Valley

Seeing Yellowstone's beautiful variety of wildlife is certainly one of the reasons this national park is such a great place to visit. Yellowstone is fairly big, though there’s no better place to do wildlife viewing in Yellowstone than in Lamar Valley.
Top 10 Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

This place is home to mind-blowing wildlife and offers the best opportunity to see grazing bison, pronghorn deer, grizzly bears and elk, although be sure you visit in the late afternoon. When the sun is setting is probably the best time to be in Lamar Valley because you’ll get to see gray wolves and herds of bison and their cubs roaming freely!

See the basalt columns along the Yellowstone River

The Yellowstone River Overlook (a.k.a Calcite Springs Overlook Trail) is one of the easiest, yet most rewarding trails you can hike in Yellowstone Park.

This looping trail is roughly a half-mile long hike, though it offers great views of the basalt columns dotted long the banks of the Yellowstone River.

Take a walk along the colorful Artist’s Paint Pots trail

Taking a hike along Artist’s Paint Pots trail is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Yellowstone national park because of the colorful landscape you won't see anywhere else in the park.

This short trail loop is located near Gibbon Meadows and takes you past bubbling mud pots, bright hot springs and spouting geysers, all of which are located just a few feet away along the walking trail.

Check out the mountain goats in Barronette Peak

Barronette Peak is located just a short drive from Lamar Valley and offers another fantastic opportunity to spot more beautiful wildlife. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep call Barronette Peak home and you can see them jumping about dangerously on the cliff ledges, though remember you’ll need a spotting scope to see them.

Besides spotting mountain goats, Barronette Peak offers a nice opportunity for a hassle-free climbing experience. From the summit of Barronette Peak you can get nice panoramic views of Soda Butte and the Montana’s Absaroka Range. The easiest time to climb the peak is between July and September when the snow has melted away.

See Yellowstone’s main geothermal areas

Yellowstone’s geysers are without a doubt, the park’s top attraction and seeing them up-close is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Yellowstone national park. The main geothermal areas of Yellowstone are Norris Geyser Basin (next to Steamboat Geyser – tallest geyser in the world) and Midway Geyser/ Grand Prismatic Spring.

Midway Geyser and Grand Prismatic are without question the most spectacular geothermal areas because of their vivid colors and mind-boggling surroundings begging to be photographed!

While in the area, you shouldn’t miss seeing Yellowstone’s star attraction – Old Faithful – and catch one of its regular eruptions (Old Faithful is just 10 minutes drive south of Midway Geyser and Grand Prismatic).

See the spectacular Grand Canyon

Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is another stunning attraction that you simply cannot miss seeing while in the park. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone easily offers the best hiking experience and most glorious photo opportunities in the entire Yellowstone park.

Just like Arizona’s Gran Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone boasts a north rim and a south rim, both of which feature dozens of overlooks and hiking trails offering gorgeous waterfall views.

Out of all the trails, the South Rim trail is one the best trails to do because it offers excellent views of the upper and lower sections of Yellowstone River Falls. Whichever trail you choose be sure to bring a camera, plenty of water and wear proper hiking boots (your feet will love you for it!)

Enjoy a bit of sailing and water sports

If you’re visiting the park during the summer months, one of the top 10 things to do in Yellowstone national park has to be enjoying water activities. There are several bodies of water in the park, though one of the best ones is Yellowstone Lake, which is located over 7000 ft above sea level.

You can bring your own boat (motorized and non) or rent outboards, kayaks and rowboats from one of the outfitters around Yellowstone Lake such as Xanterra Parks & Resorts (at Bridge Bay Marina), or Geyser Kayak Tours (near the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail). Mind you, though, if you do plan to bring your own boat you need to remember to obtain a permit. You can get a 7-day pass for around $10 and $5 (for non-motorized boats) from one of the ranger stations and visitor centers in the park.

Enjoy a relaxing soak in a hot spring

Yellowstone’s hot springs aren’t just beautiful to gaze at but they also offer a great opportunity to enjoy nice relaxing soaks. There are lots of great soaking spots all across Yellowstone national park such as Boy Scout Pool, Crawfish Creek, Mammoth, Shoshone Geyser Basin and Dunanda falls, though be aware that these hot springs are off limits. In fact, these hot springs are illegal to soak in and getting caught can land you in a heap of trouble!

Remember, though, that most of these illegal hot springs are really hot so they can and will scald you. To be on the safe side, it’s best you stick to places such as Boiling River, Firehole River (off the Grand Tour Loop), Ferris Fork, or Chico hot springs resort for a safe hot spring experience.

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