National Parks

Yellowstone National Park

Marvels abound in the 3,500 square miles that make up the United States' first national park, Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is one of the 300 geysers to see in addition to hot springs, sulfur pits and wildlife like the bison and bear. Visitors can explore the park by car or by foot on over 900 miles of hiking trails.

Yellowstone National Park is a place of beauty, danger, and intrigue.  There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features in the park’s expanse.  In one area geysers shoot water into the air; Old Faithful can spew a charge of water 100 feet overhead (and you’re guaranteed to see it happen since it erupts nearly every 60 to 110 minutes).  Hot springs are another hydrothermal feature.  One outstanding area to hike is the Mammoth Hot Springs Area.  Pools of water are sometimes boiling hot! Hikers are kept safe from the fragile and dangerous earth below by staying on the boardwalk portion of the trails here.

Keep exploring throughout the park to see churning mud pits. Sulfur pits that emit a smell like rotten eggs keep some hikers away from certain portions of the park; however, the massive bison are not deterred from this area, and it is not uncommon to see them relaxing on the nearby ground.

Herds of free-roaming bison populate the park, sometimes preventing cars from passing down a road.  Hikers should proceed by these animals using extreme caution:  they are fast and have been known to gore people with their horns.  Keep your distance from the bison; they have the right-of-way.  Other wildlife one can see in the park include wolves, bear, and elk.  The amazing Rocky Mountains are here too.

Due to the park’s location and elevation, hikers should practice safety measures when venturing throughout the park.  Check the park’s website for current weather conditions.  June, July, and August are the most popular times for visitors, and those months tend to be warmest.  Even if you visit during these months, you will probably experience cool temperatures (especially at night) and see snow on the mountaintops.  Although the park is open in the winter, some roads will be closed to the public.

Five entrances lead into Yellowstone National Park.  There are two to the north of the park, and one at each the south, west and east.  Make sure that you bring maps with you, and when you are in the park, pick up maps of the different areas for you to explore.  Do not rely on GPS devices, as they have sent people down dangerous roads made only for rangers.

Cost to enter the park for seven days is $30.  Check the website for “Free Entrance Days” and special events.  You should stop at multiple visitors centers once inside the park.  At these and at ranger stations, visitors can find information about the best hiking areas for your abilities; some of this information can be found online too. Backcountry hiking (overnight hiking expeditions) is allowed, but a permit must be obtained.

Photos from Yellowstone National Park