Very few are actually aware that Yellowstone National Park is in fact a very large volcanic formation known as a caldera. This same region erupted hundreds of millions of years ago and caused a massive amount of destruction. Thankfully, such events are quite rare and Yellowstone is undoubtedly one of the most striking natural formations in the world. From boiling mud pools to famous geysers such as Old Faithful, visiting here will provide memories that last a lifetime.
The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is located within the states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The reason that this is important is that the winters here can be rather unforgiving while the summers can easily reach 90 degrees or higher. For these reasons, most travelers will choose to arrive in the spring or the autumn. However, autumn tends to offer less crowds and is the perfect time for anyone who desires a hands-on view of nature without being interrupted by the public.
The main airport that services Yellowstone National Park is West Yellowstone Airport. It is located only 2 miles from the entrance to the park itself. As this is a smaller airport, there are NO non-stop journeys. Therefore, the average travel time will generally fall between 5 and 6 hours. Connecting flights from New York City to Yellowstone will only occur from Salt Lake City. So, this location is a bit more difficult to get to. Additionally, commercial service is only available between June and the end of September. The principle air carriers are Delta Airlines and SkyWest.
There are numerous campgrounds, caravan parks and hotels within the park itself. Due to their convenience, they are likely to fill up quickly (especially during the height of the summer). Many who arrive here will instead choose accommodations in nearby towns such as Gardiner or West Yellowstone. Some of the properties located within the park are Canyon Lodge and Cabins and Grant Village. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins is the only location that is open throughout the year. Camping locations including Bridge Bay, Grant and Indian Creek are ideal for those who enjoy “roughing it”.
Top Things to do in Yellowstone
When many envision Yellowstone National Park, the iconic image of Old Faithful quickly comes to mind. Indeed, this geyser erupts at regular intervals while the famous Old Faithful Inn is located not far off. Nearby charts will help to predict the estimated eruption times. When this geyser does indeed become active, heated water can shoot up hundreds of feet into the air. This makes for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. For those who miss such an event, not to worry; there are countless smaller geysers located within walking distance. These can all be accessed via a network of boardwalks.
Another stunning and colorful feature of this park is a section known as the Artists’ Paintpots. As their name suggests, these are relatively small pools cerulean blue water interspersed with hot springs and two separate bubbling mud pits. The waters are a striking turquoise blue due to the presence of bacteria within. These areas can be difficult to access and therefore, fewer tourists are likely to be present. It is still highly recommended not to visit without a guide; many structures are quite fragile and damaging one could even result in a hefty fine.
The Mammoth Hot Springs are perhaps almost as famous as Old Faithful itself. Over millions of years, these unique travertine formations have been shaped by the mineral-rich water bubbling up from underneath. One of the reasons why these springs are so magical is the fact that no other location within Yellowstone exhibits such geography. Due to the porosity of the rock, the structure of Mammoth Springs changes frequently. Those who visited a year ago are likely to be presented with an entirely different experience upon their return. Once again, it is best to use the numerous guided tours which are offered. The water is extremely hot and there is always the chance that someone unaware could accidentally slip and fall.