Yellowstone Overview

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as the world’s first national park, is a vast natural wonderland that spans across three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, in the United States. Covering an area of nearly 3,472 square miles (about 8,991 square kilometers), Yellowstone is renowned for its unique hydrothermal features, diverse ecosystems, and spectacular landscapes, which make it one of the most popular and iconic national parks globally.

The park is situated atop a volcanic hot spot, and its geothermal activity is a major draw for visitors. Yellowstone is home to more than half of the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful, one of the most famous geysers known for its regular eruptions. The park also features stunning hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles, showcasing the Earth’s powerful geological forces. The Grand Prismatic Spring, with its vivid colors, is another hydrothermal highlight and one of the park’s most photographed features.

Beyond its geothermal wonders, Yellowstone boasts a vast and varied landscape that includes towering mountain ranges, expansive valleys, and lush forests. The Yellowstone River carves through the park, creating the dramatic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, known for its stunning waterfalls and colorful rock walls.

Yellowstone’s diverse habitats provide a sanctuary for an incredible array of wildlife, including large herds of bison, elk, and other ungulates. It is also one of the few places in the United States where visitors can observe wolves in the wild, following their successful reintroduction in the 1990s. Grizzly and black bears, lynx, and bald eagles are among the other wildlife species that call the park home.

Yellowstone National Park offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers, with opportunities for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and exploring its extraordinary geothermal features. Its significance as the first national park not only in the United States but in the world, highlights the importance of preserving natural and cultural heritage for future generations.  Yellowstone is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America.

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Park Map
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Yellowstone National Park Trails

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 105 feet (32 meters)

Description: Starting from the Fairy Falls Trailhead, this short hike leads to a breathtaking overlook of the Grand Prismatic Spring, showcasing its vibrant colors from above. The trail offers a unique perspective of the park’s largest hot spring, with panoramic views of the Midway Geyser Basin.

Uncle Tom's Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.7 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 500 feet (152 meters) via stairs

Description: This trail consists of a series of steep stairs and platforms leading down to a viewpoint of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, offering close-up views of the powerful waterfall. It’s a strenuous return climb, but the spectacular sight of the falls makes it worthwhile.

Mystic Falls Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.4 miles loop with an elevation gain of about 550 feet (168 meters)

Description: The trail begins at Biscuit Basin and winds through a lodgepole pine forest to the scenic Mystic Falls, a beautiful waterfall on the Little Firehole River. Hikers can extend their hike to include a loop for elevated views of the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful.

Lone Star Geyser Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This easy, flat trail follows an old service road along the Firehole River to the Lone Star Geyser, a cone geyser that erupts approximately every 3 hours. The trail offers a peaceful walk through forests and meadows, with the chance to witness an eruption without the crowds.

Mount Washburn Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 6.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet (427 meters) from Dunraven Pass

Description: This popular trail takes hikers to the summit of Mount Washburn, offering panoramic views of the park, including the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and distant mountain ranges. The trail is well-maintained, with wildflowers and wildlife sightings along the way. The summit features a lookout tower and interpretive exhibits.

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  • Travel Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
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