Table of Contents

25 Best Things to See in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a true natural wonderland. The worlds oldest national park sits on top of a giant supervolcano. There is over 60 % of all worlds geysers and about 10,000 other geothermal features. There are simply so many beautiful things to see in Yellowstone National Park that you should rather plan a longer visit. With an area of 3,472 square miles (8980 km²) of wilderness, it is home to bison herds, bears, wolfs, coyotes, and elks. You will be amazed to see all these colorful hot springs, erupting geysers, bubbling mudpots, and steam coming out of the earth. You should definitely put Yellowstone National Park on your USA bucket list. Nothing can beat what you will see there.

TOP 10 Things to see in Yellowstone National Park

The following places are the absolute highlights of Yellowstone National Park, which you shouldnt miss even if you plan just a short visit.

1) Grand Prismatic Spring

The Grand Prismatic Spring is an iconic hot spring of Yellowstone National Park. You can find its photos everywhere, including the front pages of National Geographic. Hundred thousands of visitors are coming to Yellowstone to see Grand Prismatic, the third-largest hot spring in the world and definitely the most beautiful one. Grand Prismatic is 165 feet (50 meters) deep and has approximately 360 feet (110 meters) in diameter.

The springs vivid colors are caused by microorganisms. There are so-called microbial mats around its edges. These mats create colors ranging from green to red. The color depends on several factors like the chlorophyll to carotenoid ratio as well as water temperature.

Grand Prismatic Overlook – best view

Enjoy the most magnificent view to Grand Prismatic from the overlook! Its less than a mile by walk from the car park and it is definitely worth it!

Grand Prismatic Spring - 3rd largest hot spring in the world. Photo from the boardwalk.

Grand Prismatic Spring – 3rd largest hot spring in the world. Photo from the boardwalk.

Midway Geyser Basin

The Grand Prismatic is situated in Midway Geyser Basin, which has other amazing geothermal features. You can see them on the way to the Grand Prismatic itself. Admire the deep blue Excelsior Geyser or Opal and Turquoise lake.

There is a nice boardwalk across the area. Always stay on it! Geysers and hot springs are beautiful but very dangerous (very hot and acidic).

Parking at Grand Prismatic: As this is the highlight of the national park, you might have to wait for a parking place (especially during the day).

Photo TIP: If you want nice pictures dont come too early in the morning. There is a lot of steam due to lower temperatures, and the photos wouldnt be that nice.

Water from Midway Geyser Basin feeding the Firehole River. Best Things to see in Yellowstone National Park.

Water from Midway Geyser Basin feeding the Firehole River.

2) Old Faithful

Old Faithful is the most famous Yellowstone Geyser as well a lovely village with another beautiful geyser basins and hot springs nearby. Once you are there visit also the building of Old Faithful Inn and Visitor Center to learn more about geothermal features and other things to see in Yellowstone Old Faithful area.

Old Faithful Geyser

Thousands of visitors come to see Old Faithful going off several times a day. This geyser is exceptional because its eruptions can be easily predicted. Old Faithful goes off every 90 minutes (+ – 10 minutes). Its a spectacular show – eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 gallons (14,000 to 32,000 l) of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet (32 to 56 m). The eruption usually lasts 1.5 – 5 minutes.

Old Faithful Geyser eruption.

Old Faithful Geyser eruption.

TIP: Look at the board at the Visitor Center, what is the estimated time of the next eruption of the Old Faithful. We recommend coming early to catch the ideal front spot at the observation deck.

Old Faithful Visitor Center

The visitor center is right next to the geyser. There is a cinema where you can watch a short documentary about Yellowstone National Park for free. We recommend visiting the Visitor Center because you can find there a forecast for several other geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin.

Old Faithful Geyser from the Observation Point (1-hour loop track). Best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful Geyser from the Observation Point (1-hour loop track).

Old Faithful Inn

The Old Faithful Inn is a massive wooden building. It has monumental vestibule with elegant wooden design. There is a big fireplace and many nice spots where you can sit and relax. They also have predictions for geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin there.

Historical vehicle in front of the Old Faithful Inn.

Historical vehicle in front of the Old Faithful Inn.

3) Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

You will be amazed by seeing Lower Falls for the first time. Such a massive waterfall in the middle of the monumental canyon! Lower Falls is located at the beginning of 20 miles (32 kilometers) long Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which is over a kilometer wide and more than 1000 feet (300 meters) deep. You can admire the Grand Canyon from numerous viewpoints at both sides. The most beautiful views await you from its South Rim.

Artist Point – The best view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

If you would have to choose only one viewpoint, it would be Artist Point. You can see the whole monumental canyon from there. It is probably the most beautiful view in entire Yellowstone. The contrast of the wild blue river with the orange canyon is magical. Getting there is easy: South Rim Drive will take you right to a relatively large parking lot by the Artist Point.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from the Artist Point - definitely one of the top places to see in Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from the Artist Point – definitely one of the top places to see in Yellowstone National Park.

Upper Falls Viewpoint

Upper Falls Viewpoint is a beautiful view of the smaller (but still massive) Upper Falls. The viewpoint is just a few steps from the parking lot. Stop at this viewpoint first on your way to Artist Point.

109 feet (33 m) high Upper Falls from the viewpoint. Best things to see in Yellowstone National Park.

109 feet (33 m) high Upper Falls from the viewpoint.

Uncle Toms Point – Lower Falls viewpoint

If you dont mind hiking a lot of stairs, head to Uncle Toms Trail. Uncle Toms trail will take you down the long and steep staircase to a small observation deck, which is quite close to the Lower Falls. You can see a rainbow on a sunny day!

 Uncle Toms Trail. Yellowstone River and Lower Falls.

Uncle Toms Trail. Yellowstone River and Lower Falls.

North Rims viewpoints

Brink of the Lower Falls

The Brink of the Lower Falls will take you above the Upper Falls edge. It is incredible to watch the enormous amount of water rolling down the waterfall.

You can get really close to the edge of Yellowstone Lower Falls. Things too see in Yellowstone National Park.

You can get really close to the edge of Yellowstone Lower Falls.

Red Rock Point and Lower Lookout Point

Red Rock Point is a viewpoint that has a common parking lot with Lookout Point. To be able to reach it you have to climb the stairs down. The advantage of this viewpoint is that it is not crowded because most of the people stay on the upper viewpoint.

Red Rock Point - One of those uncrowded viewpoints.

Red Rock Point – One of those uncrowded viewpoints.

Other North Rims viewpoints

There are some other viewpoints which are only a few steps away from the parking lot at North Rim Drive: Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point.

4) Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

If you come by the North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs is going to be your first thing to see in Yellowstone National Park. Terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs are beautiful travertine terraces full of colors. Be sure to explore both, the lower and upper terraces. A nice boardwalk will take you through the area. Local Visitor Center is always surrounded by elks.

Travertine terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs are active and constantly changing. In 5 years, they will look different than today. Minor changes can be observed even within days. The water temperature here is about 176 °F (80 °C). There are 70 individually named geothermal features.

Travertine terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs.

Travertine terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs.

5) Upper Geyser Basin

Upper Geyser Basin is one of those you cant skip! It is a magical walk around the hot springs, lakes, and geysers, just by the Old Faithful. Before you head off, take a picture of the geysers prediction for the following hours. Maybe you can see the elegant Castle Geyser or the huge Grand Geyser in action.

TIP: Download the Geyser Times app to find out predicted eruption times of individual geysers across the park.

Remember to check predicted eruptions for geysers at Upper Geyser Basin.

Remember to check predicted eruptions for geysers at Upper Geyser Basin.

Morning Glory Pool

Morning Glory is a beautiful hot spring in the lower part of the Upper Geyser Basin. The spring got his name after the Morning Glory flower. Unfortunately, the spring becomes a victim of vandalism (never throw anything into hot springs!). It gradually cooled down and changed from turquoise blue to green and yellow. Yet Morning Glory is still beautiful and one of the best places to visit in Yellowstone.

Morning Glory Pool is one of the most beautiful hot springs of Yellowstone Upper Geyser Basin.

Morning Glory Pool is one of the most beautiful hot springs of Yellowstone Upper Geyser Basin.

6) Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin is the oldest, warmest and most dynamic area in Yellowstone. The highest temperature of 459°F (237 °C), was measured 1,087 feet (326 meters) below the surface. The temperature of the local hots springs is usually around the boiling point. Norris geysers and hot springs are mostly acidic with pH around 3.5. The highest geyser in the world is also a part of Norris Geyser Basin – Steamboat Geyser.

Norris Geyser Basin has two different areas: Black Basin and Porcelain Basin. You can head off for the shorter Porcelain Basin Trail on the right from the Visitor Center. The loop is about 3/4-mile (1,2 km) long. On the left, you can explore the Black Basin, which leads to other amazing geysers and woods. The trail is 1.5-mile (2.4 km) long.

Norris Geyser Basin - the most dynamic Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park.

Norris Geyser Basin – the most dynamic Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park.

7) West Thumb Geyser Basin

Another from a series of colorful springs, geysers, and fumaroles with a beautiful view to Yellowstone Lake. The geyser called the Fishing Cone is most likely going to get your attention. The first discoverers of Yellowstone used this geyser for cooking the fish straight after they have caught it.

West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake. Best things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake.

8) Fountain Paint Pot

Fountain Paint Pot is just a short but very interesting walk around bubbling mudpots of a creamy color, loud roaring fumaroles, and some other nice hot springs.

Mudpots simply have to be on your list of best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park. They

Mudpots simply have to be on your list of things to do in Yellowstone National Park. Theyre so active.

9) Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is one of the best places to see wolves, bears, buffaloes, and coyotes. It is located in the northeastern corner of the park often called Americas Serengeti. If you want to increase your chances of seeing animals definitely go to Lamar Valley. Animals are most active at dawn and dusk. Its also handy to pack binocular.

Bison Jam in Lamar Valley. Best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Bison Jam in Lamar Valley.

10) Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is another beautiful valley, that is perfect for watching wildlife. You will drive through the valley between Lake village and Canyon village. As you drive along you are likely to see herds of bison, elks and occasionally even grizzly bears. There are several pull-outs with panoramic views of the surrounding valley. Hayden Valley is located south of Canyon Village.

Watch this awesome video about animals you can see in Yellowstone:

YouTube video

Other Interesting Places in Yellowstone National Park

If you have more than 2-3 days in Yellowstone National Park, you can visit more awesome places! These places are many times just short stops or drives by the main road.

11) Black Sand Basin

Black Sand Basin is another colorful basin, just 1 mile from Old Faithful village. It is a beautiful small isolated collection of geysers and hot springs. You can see there the Sunset Lake, Rainbows or Opalescent Pool. The most famous used to be a Handkerchief Pool. Until 1920s visitors were encouraged to put their handkerchief into the pool. The water would suck it down for a few minutes and return it to the top nice and clean, like a natural washing machine.

Sunset Lake at Black Sand Basin. Best things to see in Yellowstone National Park.

Sunset Lake at Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone

12) Biscuit Basin

Biscuit Basin is located nearby the Old Faithful area. It is only a short walk (2/3 of a mile-long loop) among the hot springs and geysers but it is definitely worth it! The parking lot is big enough. If you have plenty of time, you can continue to Mystic Falls, Observation Point or Summit Lake.

Biscuit Basin from Observation Point. Best things to see in Yellowstone National Park.

Biscuit Basin from Observation Point.

13) Swimming in Firehole River – Firehole Canyon Drive

During the hot summer day, its very refreshing to swim in the Firehole River. There is a Firehole Canyon Drive just behind the Madison Junction. Once you see the cars parked around the road, you have arrived. There are toilets and changing rooms. Access to the rocky beach area is by wooden stairs. Despite the name Firehole, dont expect it to be warm. Temperature is similar to an unheated swimming pool – perfect for swimming.

Another swimming spot is the Boiling River at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Firehole River is a popular place to swim. Is it on your list of best things to do in Yellowstone?

Firehole River is a popular place to swim. Is it on your list of things to do in Yellowstone?

14) Canyon Visitor Education Center

If you want to learn more about the history of Yellowstone Park and the giant volcano, we recommend visiting the Canyon Visitor Education Center at Canyon Village. There is a beautiful model of the entire park and Yellowstone Caldera. You can also see the model of past explosions of this giant supervolcano. You can also watch a short 15-minute documentary about Yellowstone for free at the cinema. These movies are very well done!

15) Firehole Lake Drive

Firehole Lake Drive is 3 miles long one-way road with a lot of geysers and hot springs. The most famous geysers of this area are Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser or Pink Cone Geyser. All geysers and thermal features are visible from the road or boardwalks.

Firehole Lake Drive - White Dome Geyser eruption. Best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Firehole Lake Drive – White Dome Geyser eruption.

16) Mud Volcano

Mud Volcano is not a volcano itself, but it is another thermal area with geysers and hot springs near one of the Yellowstone Volcanos vents. Unlike other clear and beautifully colored ponds, here you can see the muddy stinky boiling water. Its interesting, but not as nice for photos as other places.

17) Craig Pass – Continendal Divide

Craig Pass is a mountain pass located at Continental Divide. There is a nice sign where you can take a picture. Water from this place here drains into 2 different watersheds – Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.

Continental Divide at Craig Pass. Best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Continental Divide at Craig Pass.

18) Tower Fall

Tower Fall is located in the northeastern part of Yellowstone, approximately 3 miles south of Roosevelt Junction. The waterfall is 132 feet tall and its name comes from the rock pinnacles at the top of the fall.

Tower Fall. Places to visit in Yellowstone National park

Tower Fall

19) Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in the National Park. It covers 136 square miles (350 km 2 ) and its average depth is 139 ft (42 m). Lake is quite cold year-round, with an average water temperature of 41°F, thats why swimming is not recommended. You can rent a motorboat at Bridge Bay or join a Scenic Lake Cruise with a ranger.

Read Post  10 Top Tourist Attractions in Venezuela

Yellowstone Lake is a lovely area. There is a Fishing Cone Geyser in the photo.

Yellowstone Lake is a lovely area. There is a Fishing Cone Geyser in the photo.

20) Artists Paintpots

Small geyser basin located between Madison Junction, and Norris Geyser Basin. Artists Paintpots is a collection of over 50 springs, vents, geysers, and mudpots. Its not that crowded like other basins.

Yellowstone - Artists Paintpots - small but interesting Geyser Basin

Artists Paintpots – small but interesting Geyser Basin (foto: Wikipedia)

Where to go hiking in Yellowstone National Park

Not all the awesome places in Yellowstone National Park are easily accessible. Some gems are very well hidden and you have to hike some miles in the wilderness to see them. Yellowstone is a hiking paradise and every adventurous soul will love Yellowstone backcountry adventures.

21) Lone Star Geyser and Shoshone Lake

Lone Star Geyser Trail leads mostly through the forest. You will also meet a smaller thermal area along the way. You can expect Lone Star geyser eruption every 3 hours. Eruptions can be 45 feet (14 meters) high. The trail is about 4,8 miles (8 km) long and takes about 2-3 hours (+ a little longer if you wait for the eruption).

You can also continue to Shoshone Lake, which would be a whole day trip.

Lone Star Geyser is well-hidden Geyser. Best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park.

Lone Star Geyser is well-hidden Geyser.

22) Avalanche Peak

If you like mountains and views, hike to Avalanche Peak. Its quite a steep hike. The trail is 2,1 miles (3,3 km) long and can take you about 3-4 hours. Hiking this trail is not recommended in September and October, due to the frequent occurrence of Grizzly bears.

Avalanche Peak Summit. Bring some extra layers it is cold and windy up there.

Avalanche Peak Summit. Bring some extra layers it is cold and windy up there.

23) Union Falls

Union Falls are the second tallest waterfalls in the park. A hike to Union Falls can be done in one day (15,6 miles / 25 km round-trip) or you can stay overnight and stay at one of these campsites nearby. Trailhead can be reached by a dirt road from Flagg Ranch. You can find a detailed description of the trek here.

Union Falls, nice hike with a trailhead by the Grassy Lake Reservoir.

Union Falls, nice hike with a trailhead by the Grassy Lake Reservoir.

24) Mt. Washburn

Day hike to Mount Washburn starts from the parking lot at Dunraven Pass. The trail is 4,5 miles long (7,2 km) and can be done in 3-6 hours. There is a 360 ° view from the fire lookout. You can have a look at the exhibits at the base of the lookout.

View from the Mount Washburn fire lookout.

View from the Mount Washburn fire lookout.

25) Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls can be reached by short day hike. The trail follows a lovely creek through the mixed forest. Its 2,4 miles (3,8 km) long there-and-back trail and it starts at the far side of the Biscuit Basic boardwalk.

Beautiful Mystic Falls with the trailhead at Biscuit Basin.

Beautiful Mystic Falls with the trailhead at Biscuit Basin.

Map of the Best Things to See in Yellowstone National Park

We have prepared a detailed map of all best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park to help you plan your trip out. Points of interest are divided by categories. Each category has a different color for easy orientation. The map can be exported and uploaded to the mobile map app like Maps.me or Locus maps.

Accommodation in Yellowstone National Park

If you are visiting Yellowstone National Park, you have several options:

Hotels and Lodges directly in Yellowstone National Park

Official accommodation in Yellowstone is quite expensive, however luxurious. Prices can be around $ 200-300 per night or more. Once in a while, you can find lower prices (but usually not under $100 per night). The accommodation is often sold out, so its good to book it in advance. For more information, visit Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

Camping in Yellowstone National Park

Camping is the cheapest option for accommodation directly in the park. Yellowstone National Park offers more than 10 campsites throughout the park. Some campsites have to be booked in advance (cost per night varies from $ 26 to $ 31), others operate on a first-come, first-serve basis (those are cheaper: $ 15 or $ 20 per night). You can see a detailed map and availability at Yellowstone National Park Camping. If you need some advice on gear, check this site with great gear for outdoor enthusiasts.

Accommodation nearby Yellowstone National Park

Another option is to book accommodation near the park. The nearest town is West Yellowstone and it is the first choice for most of the travelers. If you are coming from different directions, Cody and Jackson could be good for the first night. Accommodation in Jackson is great if you plan to spend a few days in Grand Teton National Park.

Watch this awesome video about Yellowstone National Park:

YouTube video

Best Things to See on Your West Coast Road Trip

Before going to Yellowstone, check these mistakes to avoid. Are you planning a road trip vacation? Dont miss the most beautiful places and national parks. We have prepared a list of places and a road trip map for you: Road Trip USA – 23 Best places to visit on the West Coast.

Is Yellowstone going to erupt?

Did this blog post help you?

Did this blog post help you? You can do us a favor and book your accommodation, buy flight tickets, book a tour or rent a car using our links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and we will have a small commission, which we will use for further improvement of this website.

We have also prepared for you this comprehensive list of links, discounts, and resources for travel planning in one place. Bookmark this page and whenever you plan a vacation in the future, just open it and save yourself a lot of time.

1) Where to book accommodation?

  • We prefer to find an accommodation using Booking.com.
  • It’s also worth it to compare with Airbnb (here you can get $44 discount).
  • Read also our guide – How to search for the best accommodation.

2) How to find cheap flights?

  • We recommend searching for flights on Skyscanner.
  • Read also our complete guide – How to find cheap flights.

3) How to rent a car?

  • We recommend a comparison portal RentalCars.com to compare the best offers of all available rental companies.

Pin things to see in Yellowstone for later or for your friends:

18 Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a wonderland of geothermal activity, stunning landscapes, and abundant wildlife. Steam hisses out of the ground along walking trails, bison stop cars in their tracks on the main park road, and technicolor hot springs never fail to amaze even the most seasoned traveler. In this post, learn about the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park.

We have visited Yellowstone National Park on multiple occasions. In recent years, we have been here in mid-August 2019, the last weekend of September in 2020, and the first week of October in 2021. It’s amazing what a difference six weeks can make. In the summer, the days are long, the grasslands are green, and crowds are enormous. In September, temperatures cool down, the grasslands turn a vibrant golden-yellow, and crowds start to diminish. By early October, crowds are even lower and it’s possible that snow could be falling.

We love this park, which is why we keep coming back. Every time I am here, it amazes me even more. The sheer size of this park, with the landscapes and the animals that it protects, is astonishing. Colorful hot springs, herds of bison and elk, geysers and bubbling mud pits, waterfalls and canyons…Yellowstone is a spectacular park. I can’t wait to share it with you in this post.

Record Floods in Yellowstone

On June 12, 2022, Yellowstone and northern Montana had record floods. These floods washed aways portions of the roads between Gardiner, Montana and the north entrance of Yellowstone and roads near the northeast entrance of the park.

These floods altered the landscapes of Yellowstone and some roads are expected to be closed for an extended period of time.

At the time that I am updating this, the north and south loops of Yellowstone are open. The road between Gardiner and Mammoth is closed, as is the Northeast Entrance of the park.

As of July 2, the park cancelled the Alternating License Plate System. Visitors can enter the park on any day they like, regardless of license plate number. Currently, there is no timed entry reservation system in effect, but I recommend getting updates on the official website, just in case this changes.

Stay Updated about Park Conditions

Conditions are constantly changing in the park and will continue to do so throughout the summer. I plan to keep this article updated but the best place to go for current conditions is the official National Park Service website.

Map of Yellowstone Road Closures

Below is a map of the Yellowstone road closures at the time of the last update of this article. The yellow lines are the road closures and the pink lines are the roads that are open.

Yellowstone Map 2022 Flood Update

Map of the Yellowstone road closures from the 2022 flood.

Interesting Facts About Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is not only the first national park in the United States, it is the first national park in the world. Established March 1, 1872 by president Ulysses S. Grant, this land was set aside for the enjoyment of the people and to preserve these natural wonders. This started a worldwide movement. Now, there are 63 national parks in the United States.

In terms of land mass, Yellowstone is the second largest national park in the United States, outside of Alaska. It sits in three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, with most of its land located in Wyoming.

Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. It received almost 5 million visitors in 2021, putting it 3rd on the list of “most visited parks” for that year.

Crowds are huge in the summer months. Expect major difficulties finding a parking space midday and be prepared to share walking trails with many other visitors. However, there are places to escape some of these crowds, which you can read about later in this post.

Most of Yellowstone sits atop a supervolcano. It last erupted over 640,000 years ago and is overdue for its next eruption. When that inevitably happens, it could be cataclysmic for the human race.

This supervolcano powers the geothermal activity in the park. Yellowstone has the highest concentration of geothermal features of anywhere else on earth. The land literally smokes, bubbles, and hisses. Numerous geysers erupt on a daily basis, including the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful.

Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

With over 2 million acres of land and 5 park entrances, there are A LOT of things to do in Yellowstone National Park. 18 things to do may sound like a lot, and it is, but this is narrowed down from an enormous list of things to do. For the first time visitor to Yellowstone, this is a great starting point to see the best of the park.

16 Absolute Best Things to Do in Yellowstone (+Map & Tips)

16 Absolute Best Things to Do in Yellowstone (+Map & Tips)

Are you planning your first trip to Yellowstone National Park and wondering what are the absolute best things to see and do in Yellowstone? You came to the right place!

In this post we cover all the main attractions and landmarks of Yellowstone National Park. Places that are not to be missed in America’s oldest National Park. In addition, we also share a beautiful less known place that you have probably never heard about. It became one of our absolute favorite places in Yellowstone, so I think it deserves to be included on this best of Yellowstone list as well. You can read all about it all the way at the end of this post.

This is not a complete list of things to do in Yellowstone – it would be impossible to make one. But if you are looking for the best of the best, must-see places in Yellowstone, then this is it. Find out!

Good to know: In order to help you to make the most of your trip, we also included some practical tips for your visit, tips for where to stay, and a map indicating all the main Yellowstone attractions mentioned in this article. You can find them at the bottom of this article.

TIP: If you just want to see the main highlights of Yellowstone without having to plan anything, check out these highly-rated small-group day tours – they cover all the main landmarks of Yellowstone in 1-4 days. If you wonder how to plan your own trip, please check our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions for any trip from 1 to 5 days.

Important update: Due to severe flooding in June 2022, several entrances of Yellowstone National Park are still closed to private vehicles. If you are planning to visit Yellowstone this summer, keep an eye on the official website for up-to-date information on the current situation.

The best places to stay in Yellowstone in 2022 are the lodges inside the park (all fully booked by now, of course). Near the park, by far the best place to stay is West Yellowstone.

Best things to do in Yellowstone National Park

These are the very best places to see and things to do in Yellowstone National Park:

1. Grand Prismatic Spring

If there is one place that you really have to see in Yellowstone, it is the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring, the star of the Midway Geyser Basin. It is not only the largest hot spring in the United States (and the third largest in the world), but also one of the most unique natural wonders on the planet. It is also the best recognized and most photographed landmark of Yellowstone.

No matter how many times you saw the Grand Prismatic on pictures, it’s only when you stand there that you realize how large it actually is. It’s bigger than a football field and deeper than a 10-story building.

Chances are big that your trip to Yellowstone has been inspired by all those incredibly beautiful images of the Grand Prismatic Spring photographed directly from above that you see in so many travel guides and TV documentaries…

If you come here with such high expectations, then seeing this famous landmark in real life might disappoint you a bit. No matter how much you try, you can never get the same view of the Grand Prismatic as in those famous photographs. However, Grand Prismatic Spring is still absolutely incredible and it is also just as colorful in reality as it is in the pictures. If you come here on a sunny day, the rainbow of colors will take your breath away!

Just in case you wonder, the Grand Prismatic hot spring gets its multi-color layers from different species of heat-loving bacteria that live around it. The deep center is blue, then you have green and yellow tints, followed by lots of orange on the cooler outskirts.

Needless to say that Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most popular attractions of Yellowstone. It’s one of the few places in the park where we saw big tour buses, so no matter when you visit, expect it to be busy.

Probably the best way to avoid the crowds is to come very early in the morning or late in the evening. However, I read that the colors of the spring are at their brightest on a sunny warm day, so we decided to go in the middle of the day.

On cooler days, but also early in the mornings and in the evening, steam can cover the spring, making it more difficult to see how colorful it really is. Colors will also be duller if you visit on a cloudy day. Still, no matter the weather or the conditions, seeing the Grand Prismatic is a must, one of the absolute best things to do in Yellowstone!

Colorful Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park in summer

Grand Prismatic Spring as we saw it

Practical information: Plan 1-2 hours for the visit. Park your car at the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot at Midway Geyser Basin. Expect the parking lot to be very busy, especially if you come in the middle of the day in summer as we did. Some people just park next to the road, but I’m not sure if it’s allowed. We didn’t want to park next to the road and waited for around 20 minutes before we could enter the parking (so not too bad, considering this is the busiest area in the park).

TIP: These organized tours also visit Grand Prismatic (and other main landmarks of Yellowstone). Coming with a tour, you can visit all these places much faster because you don’t have to waste time finding a parking spot. The driver will take care of the car/minibus while you’re enjoying the scenery.

Accessibility: Midway Geyser Basin is wheelchair-accessible – it’s all boardwalks, from where you can see the Grand Prismatic Spring up-close. These boardwalks will also take you past the other main features of Midway Geyser Basin including Excelsior Geyser, Opal Pool, and Turquoise Pool.

Interesting to know. Note that this area has no shade and it’s also very windy. In summer you may want to take sun protection, just please hold on to your hats. We saw so many sun hats in the hot spring, which is really sad because most of them can never be retrieved and therefore pollute this unique geothermal area.

TIP: The best way to truly appreciate the size and the uniqueness of the Grand Prismatic Spring is to see it from above. Please note that drones are forbidden in Yellowstone (more info here). For the best aerial view, you can visit the recently opened Grand Prismatic Viewing Platform which is accessible via the Fairy Falls trail that opens in late May. The view from here is unparalleled.

Read Post  What is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit? (plus 4 ways to save)

It’s really worth making an extra effort to see the Grand Prismatic from above! This is one of those places that you just have to see when in Yellowstone!

The hike up to the overlook isn’t very long or hard (1.2 miles (1.9 km) round trip) and the entire hike takes about 45-60 minutes (round-trip). The last section is a little steep and uneven, so you probably want to wear hiking shoes and definitely take some water with you.

Seeing the Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the must do things in Yellowstone

View from the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook © MikeGoad via Pixabay

2. Old Faithful Geyser

One of Yellowstone’s most remarkable landmarks – Old Faithful Geyser – is another absolute must in the park. Most famous and the most predictable out of nearly 500 Yellowstone geysers, Old Faithful was the first one to receive a name. It was named during the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition, which also led to the establishment of the Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

The Old Faithful geyser is still as faithful today as it was 150 years ago. It erupts in more or less regular intervals of around 90 minutes and is, therefore, one of the geysers that are easy to see in action.

Every time we were waiting for the OF, it erupted 10-15 minutes later than expected, so you need to be patient. The good news is that the eruption usually takes long enough to admire the geyser and take plenty of photos.

Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone

Old Faithful geyser is the main attraction of Yellowstone!

Together with the Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful is one of the most popular attractions of Yellowstone. No matter what time you come, it will always be busy. On the other hand, the Upper Geyser Basin area is very big, so there is plenty of parking available and the crowds spread out.

Interesting to know: If you want the best spot at the front row on one of the benches surrounding the Old Faithful, you may want to come at least 20-30 minutes before the predicted eruption time. However, it’s not really necessary – you can see the geyser quite well from a distance as well.

Practical information: If you are lucky to see the OF erupt just as you arrive, you can visit in just half an hour. However, I suggest that you plan at least 2-3 hours for a visit to this area (see the Upper Geyser Basin section below for more information). The Old Faithful area is huge and has all the facilities that you may need: a visitor center, bathrooms, a petrol station, but also shops and restaurants.

TIP: Check the predicted eruption time for Old Faithful immediately when you arrive. If it’s a long wait, explore the Upper Geyser Basin first. Otherwise, explore it after you see Old Faithful in action. In any case, don’t miss it.

Top things to do in Yellowstone with kids

Seeing Old Faithful is a must do in Yellowstone National Park

3. Upper Geyser Basin & Morning Glory Pool

Upper Geyser Basin, home to the above-mentioned Old Faithful geyser, contains around 25% of the world’s geysers. This is a beautiful area with lots of walking paths passing many geysers and thermal features.

Make sure you take some time to explore the Upper Geyser Basin beyond the Old Faithful!

While there are always lots of people at the OF, the rest of this area is so much quieter. Un-understandable, as the Upper Geyser Basin is definitely one of the best places to see in Yellowstone!

Grotto Geyser eruption in the Upper Geyser Basin, one of the best places to see in Yellowstone

Grotto Geyser doesn’t erupt very often, but once it starts, it can go on for several hours

There are too many features in this area to even mention them all; at the same time, some geysers might not be noteworthy when they are dormant.

I suggest you just take a walk through the Upper Geyser Basin all the way to the Morning Glory Pool. We were lucky to be there at the time when several geysers were predicted to go and saw a few of them in action.

Our favorite spots of the Upper Geyser Basin were the Castle Geyser, Daisy Geyser, Grotto Geyser, and of course the colorful Morning Glory Pool.

The best thing? We had all these places practically to ourselves. And this was in July, which is the peak season in Yellowstone. So take all those stories about how crowded Yellowstone is with a grain of salt. 20 minutes walk from the Old Faithful and there is hardly anyone around. Walk for 30-40 minutes and you are completely alone…

Morning Glory Pool - Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory Pool

Interesting to know: Please respect nature, park rules, and don’t throw any kind of objects into the geothermal features of Yellowstone. The Morning Glory Pool is sometimes referred to as ‘The Fading Glory’, because it’s losing its beautiful colors because of all kinds of objects people have been throwing in it for years.

Back in the ’50s, the water level was lowered by siphoning, which induced the pool to erupt. Park officials removed 112 different objects from Morning Glory, including socks, bath towels, and 76 handkerchiefs, plus thousands of coins* (*source YellowstoneNP).

Practical information: The entire Upper Geyser Basin Loop is about 4.5 miles (7.2 km). It is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly. You don’t have to walk the entire trail and can just do parts of it. The furthest point – Morning Glory Pool – is just 1.5 miles from the Old Faithful.

TIP: At the Old Faithful Visitor Centre you can find predicted eruption times for all the (predictable) geysers of the Upper Geyser Basin. Check it out before you set on the walk – you might be lucky to catch a couple of geysers in action!

It’s actually not as easy as it sounds, because most other geysers aren’t as easy to predict as the OF. But at least you know in which direction to look if a particular geyser is expected to go soon. Also, once they start going, some of them last several hours. That gives you enough time to get somewhat closer to the erupting geyser.

MORE INFO: Upper Geyser Basin (with Printable Map & Tips)

Erupting Castle Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone

Castle Geyser was steaming for over half an hour after the initial eruption – plenty of time to see it

4. Lamar Valley

One of the absolute best things to do in Yellowstone is to watch wildlife. Lamar Valley is one of the best places to see bison and other wildlife in Yellowstone. Yet it is overlooked by most tourists due to its remote location. However, if you make an effort to drive there, you will be rewarded with the most spectacular landscapes and – indeed – lots of wildlife.

Lamar Valley is loved by wild bison and it’s very likely you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of them roaming freely around the huge plains of Lamar Valley, sometimes called the Serengeti of North America. Some parts of it indeed reminded us of African landscapes…

If you are lucky, you might also spot some elk, deer, bears, coyotes, and maybe even wolves.

Lamar Valley is the best place to see wild bison in Yellowstone

Bison crossing the road in Lamar Valley

TIP: If you have enough time, drive all the way through the Lamar Valley and to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone. As you drive further, the African-looking savanna gives way to the stunning mountain landscape. Spectacular scenery!

Scenic road with mountain views leading from Lamar Valley to the Northeast Entrance Gate of Yellowstone

Scenic road towards the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone

Practical information: Lamar Valley is located about 70 miles (100km) from the Old Faithful area. It will take you at least 2 hours just to get there (bison jams and other stops not included), so you really need to count at least half a day. We visited Lamar Valley in combination with Tower-Roosevelt and Mammoth Hot Springs area and it took us the whole day.

TIP: Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon for best chance to see wildlife. Don’t come here if you are short on time or in a hurry – it’s really much too far for it and delays due to wildlife on the roads are very common.

Good to know: Lamar Valley can also be visited on organized multi-day trips. The advantage is that you don’t have to drive so can devote all your attention to wildlife viewing. This 2-day trip and this 4-day trip are very popular on GetYourGuide and both visit Lamar Valley. Both tours also visit Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Yellowstone Canyon, so you are sure to see all the main landmarks of Yellowstone making the best use of your time.

Coyote on the road in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone

Coyote on the road in Lamar Valley

5. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Rated as the number one place to see in Yellowstone on Trip Advisor, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is definitely a must-see in America’s oldest National Park. The reason I only put it as number 5 of things to see in Yellowstone is because I find that the other places listed above are even more special.

Nevertheless, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the main landmarks of Yellowstone, one that you really shouldn’t miss. In fact, it’s one of the best places of Yellowstone that I think should be included in any Yellowstone itinerary. So even if you have just one day in Yellowstone, you should make an effort to see the canyon.

Yellowstone Canyon is over 24 miles (39 km) long, up to 4,000-feet (1,2 km) wide, and some parts are 1,200-feet (365 m) deep. There are many lookouts and walking trails along both rims of the canyon.

Depending on what you want to see and how much time you have, you can spend just one hour or the whole day here. As you can imagine, most tourists only visit the main viewpoints. So – once again – it’s really easy to escape the crowds if you are willing to walk.

The main place that everyone comes to see at the Yellowstone Canyon is the Artist Point. It’s a lookout along the South Rim offering an exceptional view over the canyon and its most famous feature, the Lower Falls. Other main points of interest easily reachable by car include Inspiration Point, the Brink of the Upper Falls, and also the Lower Falls.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - view from Artist Point with a rainbow over the waterfall

View over the Yellowstone Canyon from the Artist Point

One of our favorite things to do in Yellowstone was to hike the Uncle Tom’s Trail. It’s a steep stairway descent into the canyon. More than 300 steps bring you very close to the Lower Falls.

This is a spectacular trail and great for families with active kids who like climbing stairs. However, while it’s a short hike, please note that it’s really steep and requires a serious climb. So it’s not suitable for people who have problems with their knees or a weaker heart.

Uncle Tom

Hiking Uncle Tom’s Trail with more than 300 steps

Interesting to know: There are many hiking trails along the canyon. You can hike along both sides of the canyon – the North Rim and the South Rim – for magnificent views that are inaccessible otherwise. One of the nicest stretches is the 2,7 mile (4,3 km) Point Sublime trail. Make sure to check the official NPS website for information on which trails and viewpoints are open at the time of your visit (there have been lots of construction works in the area in recent years).

TIP: Yellowstone Canyon is another extremely popular attraction in Yellowstone. So you can expect big crowds and tour buses at all the main viewpoints. I suggest going there early in the morning and starting with the most popular lookouts first.

We started our visit with Uncle Tom’s Trail, followed by Artist Point. We wanted to be at the Artist Point around 9.45-10 AM, as we had read that there is a good chance to see a rainbow over the waterfall at that time in summer. And so it was! In fact, we caught rainbows at both locations. Also, it was still very quiet around 10 o’clock with hardly any people around. As we made our way to the North Rim around 11 AM, it got noticeably busier.

Practical information: Plan at least an hour for one or two lookouts. I suggest allocating half a day for Yellowstone Canyon and exploring it a bit more. Keep in mind that every stop will take you longer if you come in the middle of the day when it’s really busy. Please consult the map at the end of this post for more information on where exactly all the lookouts are located.

Hiking tip: If you want to see some of the best views of Yellowstone Canyon, there’s a very nice guided hiking tour that takes you to some of the best places. It’s also nice to go off the beaten path with a group and a local guide since this is bear territory.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is one of the main attractions of Yellowstone NP

The colors of Yellowstone Canyon are truly spectacular!

6. Hayden Valley

Probably the most popular place to see wildlife in Yellowstone, Hayden Valley attracts lots of tourists. It can get really busy here. And if bison decide to hang around on the only road that leads through the valley, chances are big that you’ll get stuck in the bison-jam for a very long time.

It seems that bison really love showing tourists who is in charge of the place. So every time you need to pass Hayden Valley, you should be prepared for bison jams that can easily delay you by an hour.

Bison jam in Hayden Valley

Bison jam in Hayden Valley

The good news is that, despite all the traffic, bison usually still outnumber the number of people and that most of them stay next to the roads and not on them.

Hayden Valley was our first encounter with the bison in Yellowstone and we just couldn’t believe our eyes. There were bison everywhere! Actually, before our trip to Yellowstone, I wasn’t even sure if we’d get to see any bison at all. Never could I have imagined that we’d see so many of them.

TIP: The same rule counts in Hayden Valley: come early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as the animals are more active around that time. Also, keep a safe distance from bison and stay in the car if they are nearby. This is definitely the case if you see bears; you really should stay inside the car. Remember, these are all wild animals!

Hayden Valley with thousands of wild bison is one of must see places in Yellowstone

Hayden Valley is one of the best places to see bison in Yellowstone

7. Mammoth Hot Springs

Another truly unique area of Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs is completely different than any other place in the park. When researching the best things to do in Yellowstone for our trip, I found two completely opposite opinions of whether it’s worth visiting the Mammoth Hot Springs area. We decided to give it a try and are sure glad we did.

Our experience was very positive and we really enjoyed the visit to Mammoth Springs. I find that area is so unique and so fascinating that it would be a loss not to see it when in Yellowstone. You’ll find a big variety of thermal features here, but they are very different than the ones at the Upper or the Midway Geyser Basins.

The main highlights of Mammoth Hot Springs are Minerva Terrace, Palette Spring, Liberty Cap, and also Canary Spring.

Minerva Terrace - one of the main highlights of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs © Holtzter via Pixabay

Interesting to know: Mammoth Hot Springs area consists of two parts – Mammoth Lower Terraces area at the bottom and Mammoth Upper Terraces area on the hill. The two areas are connected by boardwalks and stairs and there is also a road, Terrace Drive, that allows you to drive past it all.

Theoretically, you could just drive, make several quick stops and see it all, but in reality, it’s not feasible since the small car parking areas are congested. It’s not really necessary either, because it’s not an overly big place and it doesn’t take that long to see it all on foot.

I hiked the whole area and it took me a bit less than an hour one way. Due to the heat, my husband and kids only walked the lower trails. They then took the car up the Terrace Drive, where they picked me up.

Snow Pond at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Snow Pond at Mammoth Hot Springs

TIP: If you are visiting this area in summer, prepare that it can get really hot. The Mammoth Hot Springs area has no shade at all.

Practical information: Plan about 1- 2 hours for the visit. Mammoth Springs area has all facilities including restaurants, shops, and a petrol station. It’s just a very short drive from the sightseeing area.

Upper Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Upper Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

8. Old Faithful Inn

Built in 1903-1904, Old Faithful Inn is one of the oldest lodges in Yellowstone and it’s also a national historic landmark. Considered the largest log structure in the world, the interior of the OF Inn is truly impressive.

You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel in order to visit this fascinating building. Just pop inside and explore the main building.

If you are interested in the history of this unique accommodation and Yellowstone, you could even join an organized tour of the lodge. Tours are free of charge and run several times a day; you can simply reserve/join a tour upon arrival.

Read Post  How to Delete Frequently Visited Sites on iPhone Safari App (iOS 16)

Wooden interior of the Old Faithful Inn is must see in Yellowstone

Wooden interior of Old Faithful Inn

Interesting to know: If you are looking for a place to eat, check the Bear Pit Lounge – it’s a bit of a hidden gem of Yellowstone that not many people seem to know about. Reasonably priced food and no waiting lines (which can be huge in the main restaurant at the OF Inn).

TIP: Don’t miss the outside terrace with adjacent bar and views over the Old Faithful geyser. It’s located on the 1st floor, just above the main entrance.

Practical information: If you want to stay at the OF Inn and are traveling in high season, you’ll have to book your stay 12-18 months in advance.

The Old Faithful Inn is one of the historic landmarks of Yellowstone

The Old Faithful Inn is a really impressive building

9. Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation (7,000 ft+) lake in North America. It freezes over completely every winter and even in summer the water temperature is too low to swim in it.

Therefore, the lake is best explored by boat: you can join a guided scenic boat tour, rent a boat, go fishing, or kayaking. Here you can book a kayak tour on Yellowstone Lake and here you can book a private fishing tour.

There are also many hiking trails that lead to the shores of the lake; we hiked to Storm Point and it was so beautiful!

Yellowstone Lake is one of the best places you have to see in Yellowstone, but if you’re short on time, you can just make a quick stop here.

Fishing Cone geyser on Yellowstone Lake

Fishing Cone Geyser on Yellowstone Lake

Interesting to know: The historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel built in 1891 is the oldest lodge in Yellowstone. You don’t have to stay here in order to visit it, but if you want to stay here in high season, you’ll have to book more than a year in advance.

TIP: The hotel has a nice upscale restaurant, but if you just want lake views and good food at reasonable prices, you better check the Lake Lodge Cafeteria.

Practical information: It’s difficult to say how much time you need to see the Yellowstone Lake area. You can spend just an hour or half a day, but you can also stay here the whole day or even longer. If you are short on time, take a scenic boat trip (1 hour) and spend some time at the Lake Hotel.

Make sure to also visit the West Thumb Geyser Basin (see below). It really depends on your interests and on how much time you have in Yellowstone.

Historic Yellowstone Lake Hotel and a scenic boat tour on the Yellowstone Lake

Historic Yellowstone Lake Hotel © skeeze via Pixabay

10. West Thumb Geyser Basin

One of the smallest geothermal areas of Yellowstone, West Thumb Geyser Basin, is not to be missed!

Located on the western side of Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb Geyser Basin offers a good view of the lake and has some interesting thermal features, including some that are in the lake itself.

The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is an easy wheelchair-accessible short walk (0,6 miles – 1,1 km) that takes about half an hour. It follows the lakeshore and passes several thermal features, including Abyss Pool, Yellowstone’s deepest hydrothermal pool. If you feel like walking just a bit more, there are two hiking trails nearby – Duck Lake and Lake Overlook.

West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake

West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake

Interesting to know: Bison, elk, and bears are frequently seen in this area as well. But it’s unlikely to run into them during the day – for that you should come early in the morning or around sunset.

TIP: If you arrive in Yellowstone through the South Entrance, it’s likely that West Thumb Geyser Basin will be your first introduction to Yellowstone. I can’t imagine a better way to start your trip in Yellowstone – it will take your breath away! However, if you come here after you have seen the more impressive Upper and the Midway Geyser Basins, you might be a bit disappointed.

Practical information: Count 30 minutes to an hour for the West Thumb Geyser Basin trail loop with stops at its major features.

Colorful geothermal lake of West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Colorful geothermal features of West Thumb Geyser Basin

11. Norris Geyser Basin

Of all the best things you can do in Yellowstone, I wouldn’t put Norris Geyser Basin as the first priority. However, it’s still one of the best places of Yellowstone. So if you have enough time to also cover all the other Yellowstone attractions mentioned above, don’t miss it.

Ideally, you come here before you have seen the Upper and the Midway Geyser Basins. Norris Geyser Basin isn’t as impressive as the other two, so if you see it first, you’ll appreciate it more. But if you first visit the other places, you might be somewhat disappointed.

The hottest geyser basin of Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin is comprised of two sections – Porcelain Basin and the Back Basin.

Porcelain Basin has a very barren landscape with lots of steaming vents, spouting geysers (small ones), bubbling and boiling geothermal features, and quite a few turquoise blue hot springs. You can explore the whole area on boardwalks: the main loop is about half a mile (800 m) long, the whole Porcelain Basin trail is 1,1 miles (1,7 km) long. Please note that this area has no shade and can get really warm in summer.

Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone

Porcelain Basin at Norris Geyser Basin

Back Basin couldn’t be more different from the adjacent Porcelain Basin! It’s located in a pine forest with plenty of shade and also some amazing hydrothermal features. The star of this area is the largest active geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser. Its last major eruption dates from 1991, but you can usually see it in action spitting water up to 40ft. The entire Back Basin trail is 1,75 miles (2,8 km) and is therefore much less visited by tourists than the Porcelain Basin which doesn’t require that much walking.

Interesting to know: Norris Geyser Basin is one of those areas of Yellowstone that are constantly changing, so you never know what you’ll find.

TIP: Be prepared to walk – this area is huge, but it’s really interesting! In summer, make sure you take plenty of water and sun protection.

Practical information: Count at least 1-2 hours for a short visit. If you want to see it all, it will take you half a day. This area is also a popular stop for the tour busses and the car parking can get full really quickly, so prepare to wait or try to arrive at the less popular times.

Back Basin at Norris Geyser Basin, one of the best places to see in Yellowstone

Back Basin

12. Yellowstone Grand Loop Road

Grand Loop is the main road of Yellowstone National Park. Driving this scenic road is one of the best things to do in Yellowstone.

If you look at the map of Yellowstone, you’ll see that its main roads form an 8-shape that connects all the must see places of Yellowstone.

If you take the time to drive the entire scenic loop, you’ll pass all of the main Yellowstone attractions, except the Lamar Valley.

Basalt Columns along Yellowstone

Basalt Columns along Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Road near the Tower Falls area

The Grand Loop is about 142 miles long (230 km) and, depending on the traffic, takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to complete. However, I would never advise driving the whole scenic loop of Yellowstone in just a day. There is so much to see along the way!

If you visit all the best places of Yellowstone mentioned in this article, then you’ll automatically cover the entire Grand Loop Road and more. However, to do it properly, you’ll need 3-4 days.

TIP: If you are short on time and have just one day, I suggest you drive the Lower Loop and stop at the main landmarks. If you have at least two days in Yellowstone, you could attempt the entire Grand Loop with just a few stops at the major Yellowstone attractions. Please see our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions for more information.

Beautiful scenery along Yellowstone Grand Loop Road

Beautiful scenery along Yellowstone’s Grand Loop

*** Now that we covered all the main things to do in Yellowstone, I also want to mention a few other places that you should also try to see in Yellowstone. These are not the main attractions of Yellowstone National Park, but they are each well worth visiting, especially if you have more time and want to explore Yellowstone a bit deeper. Read on! ***

13. Mount Washburn

Hiking to the top of Mount Washburn is considered one of the best things to do in Yellowstone. The views from the 10,243 feet (3,1 km) top are incredible and if you are lucky you might run into some bighorn sheep or even bears (make sure you carry a bear spray if hiking in more remote areas of Yellowstone!). Visiting Mount Washburn requires a strenuous hike that takes about 2-3 hours one way, so it is definitely not for everyone.

Interesting to know: If you are up for this hike, you should know that there are two trails leading to the top. (1) The main hiking trail starts at Dunraven Pass. It’s about 3,2 miles (5,2 km)one way and offers better views along the entire route, but it is also more challenging. (2) The second option is the Chittenden Road Trail which follows a wide service road to the top of Mount Washburn. It’s 2,5 miles (4 km) one way and is easier to hike, but the views along this route aren’t that impressive.

TIP: Carry lots of water and a picnic. Make sure you also have a jacket as it can get really windy and cold on top. Arrive early as car parking areas at both trailheads are not very big. Also, afternoon storms are common in summer, and you don’t want to be on top in the storm.

Practical information: The trail is only open from June to September and even in summer can have some snow on it.

Dunraven Pass at Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park

Dunraven Pass at Mount Washburn

14. Tower Fall

One of the most beautiful waterfalls of Yellowstone National Park, Tower Fall is worth a short stop. While the Yellowstone National Park website says it’s one of the best places to see in Yellowstone, they forget to mention that you cannot see the waterfall in all its glory anymore.

Interesting to know: Due to severe erosion, the path leading to the bottom of the waterfall has been closed for years. So you can no longer hike to the waterfall and can only see it from the Tower Fall overlook. Which is definitely nice to see, I won’t argue that, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here. You can still walk a part of the trail to see Tower Creek flow into the Yellowstone River, but it’s not the most impressive place of Yellowstone. Furthermore, the climb back up is quite steep, so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it. We found this short hike somewhat disappointing.

TIP: You can best visit Tower Fall on your way to Lamar Valley or in combination with Mount Washburn, which is also in the same area. Walking to the lookout will only take a few minutes of your time.

Practical information: Tower Fall viewpoint is just 100 yards (100 m) from the car parking area. Count 10-15 minutes for a visit.

Tower Fall is one of the main Yellowstone attractions

Tower Fall as seen from the viewing platform near Tower General Store

15. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a great place to see grizzly bears and wolfs in a safe environment. Some animals come from Yellowstone and others – from as far as Alaska. All the animals who live here are unable to survive in the wild. This center gives them a second chance, while at the same time providing an educational experience to Yellowstone visitors.

At the moment of writing, there are seven bears and five wolves in the Center, as well as some birds of prey and a Karelian bear dog. You can see the animals all year round. The bears at the Centre do not hibernate.

Interesting to know: Admission tickets are valid for two consecutive days. So if you are staying in West Yellowstone, you could certainly visit two times.

Practical information: Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is located in West Yellowstone, just outside the West Entrance of the park. It’s open 365 days a year. Count 1.5-2 hours for a visit.

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone © wschwisow via Pixabay

16. Boiling River

Boiling River is a real hidden gem of Yellowstone and one of our absolute favorite places in the park. It’s a natural hot tub, created at a place where a large hot spring enters the river. The hot and the cold water mix turning this mountain river into the best natural hot tub experience ever!

Boiling River is a wonderful place to relax after a long day exploring Yellowstone’s main attractions. Don’t miss it if you are in the northern part of Yellowstone and have an hour to spare.

Interesting to know: Boiling River trail is often closed in spring due to melting snow and mud. You should check the latest information on the official website to see if it’s open.

TIP: At the car parking there are bathroom facilities where you can also change your clothes.

Practical information: Count at least an hour for a visit, but you can easily spend half a day here as well.

Swimming in Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park

Boiling River in Yellowstone

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone on the Map

In order to help you plan your trip, I created this map indicating all the main Yellowstone attractions mentioned in this post.

How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.

So, this is the ultimate list of all the main places to see in Yellowstone. In this post, I only focused on the best of Yellowstone, because I know that everyone visiting the park for the first time wants to make sure that they cover all the musts. This list does exactly that.

If you are wondering how to best plan your time, please check our suggested Yellowstone itinerary for any trip from 1 to 5 days. If you rather let someone else do the planning, please check our guide to the best Yellowstone tours.

TIP: If you want to see all the main landmarks of Yellowstone, but don’t feel like planning it all, I recommend this highly-rated 4 days/3 nights tour. It covers all the musts in Yellowstone! If you don’t have that much time, then consider this popular 2-day tour instead.

With just a day in Yellowstone, it’s best to take this 1-day tour – it covers as much as humanly possible in a day. It will save you a lot of time not having to worry about parking, etc. so you’ll be able to make the most of your time.

Hiking: If you are looking for more great things to do in Yellowstone, I suggest you go hiking. There are so many nice short trails that will bring you to less known places in Yellowstone. I can highly recommend this Ranger’s Guide to Yellowstone Day Hikes. It features 29 hikes of all levels of difficulty, each with a detailed map and a short description.

Where to Stay

We have a very comprehensive guide on the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone and also the best hotels & cabins NEAR Yellowstone, so check it out for more information.

Alternatively, if you are simply looking for the best price-quality-location option, check out lodging in West Yellowstone. It’s a small town just near the West Entrance of Yellowstone NP and it has a big range of hotels and cabins for all budgets.

TIP: Using the map below, you can compare hotels and short-term rental accommodations in West Yellowstone and beyond. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see what’s still available for your stay. Check it out!

Are you interested in a FREE printable .pdf with Yellowstone Travel Tips?

Sign up for Full Suitcase newsletter and we will send it to you right away. You’ll get a .pdf file containing our top tips for visiting Yellowstone.

Thank you!

IMPORTANT! Please check your mailbox to confirm subscription. If you don’t see the email right away, please check Promotions and Spam folders.

More information for your trip to Yellowstone:

  • Overview:Plan a Perfect Yellowstone Trip
  • What to know:Yellowstone Travel Tips
  • When to go:Best Time to Visit Yellowstone & What It’s Really Like to Visit Yellowstone in Summer
  • Where to stay:Guide to Yellowstone Accommodation
  • Short visit:Best of Yellowstone in One Day
  • For families:Yellowstone with Kids
  • Must-see:Grand Prismatic Spring & The Old Faithful
  • Fun to do:Boiling River
  • Nearby:One Day in Grand Teton & What to See In and Near Jackson, Wyoming
  • What to pack:What to Wear and What to Pack for Yellowstone in Summer

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Source https://czechtheworld.com/best-things-to-see-in-yellowstone-national-park/

Source https://www.earthtrekkers.com/best-things-to-do-in-yellowstone-national-park/

Source https://fullsuitcase.com/yellowstone-best-things-to-do/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *