Yellowstone National Park

10 Best natural wonders at Yellowstone National Park

“If an adventurer tires of Yellowstone National Park, they tire of life”, to appropriate a phrase from Samuel Johnson! It’s with good reason that over four million visitors flock to the park year after year, and with so much on offer, it can be hard to know where to begin. We’ve done the work for you and listed the 10 best natural wonders to see — all you have to do is get planning your trip!

Yellowstone National Park earned its status in 1872, making it the first of its kind to be open to the public. Today it remains a haven for a large number of unique ecosystems, natural landscapes and wildlife, and a place beloved by adventurers looking to escape the bustle of daily life.

With so many incredible things to see in Yellowstone National Park, drawing up our list was no easy task! Beyond our top 10, you’ll find much to enthrall, but we’ve focused on highlights that showcase the region’s diversity overall. From mountains and hiking trails to geothermal areas and petrified forests, these areas are not to be missed by any visitor. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife wherever you tread.

Where is Yellowstone National Park?

America’s Yellowstone National Park can be found in northwest Wyoming, although it also spreads into Idaho and Montana. The park stretches 3,500 square miles and is the oldest national park in the world.

Fun facts about Yellowstone National Park

  • The park contains 69 species of mammal and over 300 birds
  • You can find over 1,000 native American plants in the area
  • There are five entrances to the park — choose your route to match your itinerary
  • The park contains half of the world’s geothermal features
  • Be prepared for traffic jams caused by bison herds crossing the road or using it for a shortcut!
  • Humans have explored Yellowstone National Park for over 11,000 years
  • The park sits on one of the world’s biggest active volcanoes, although the last eruption was 70,000 years ago
  • Yellowstone National Park is named after its river, which in turn was named by the Minnetaree Indians

The 10 best natural wonders at Yellowstone

It’s impossible to see everything at Yellowstone on a single trip, but it certainly helps to plan your itinerary in advance to get the most out of your visit. Be sure to consider our top 10 when putting your travel plans together.

1. Yellowstone Grand Canyon

We can’t mention Yellowstone without its jaw-dropping canyon, which stretches for nearly 20 miles. Although the river is an awesome sight in itself, the best feature of the canyon is Lower Falls. Boasting a drop of over 300 feet, it’s one of the most photographed sights in the whole park!

2. Mammoth Hot Springs

Almost as famous as the grand canyon is Mammoth Hot Springs, with its unique natural terraces giving the appearance of a gateway to heaven. Although swimming is not allowed — it’s simply unsafe, for you and the environment — this is one natural feature that no visit to Yellowstone should omit.

3. Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake West
Image by Acroterion via Wikimedia Commons

Yellowstone Lake has over 100 miles of shoreline and is the largest lake in Yellowstone. It’s a place of great tranquility and makes for a wonderful picnic spot. Boats can be hired from nearby hotels and you’ll likely find it even calmer out on the water!

4. Tower Fall

Tower Fall gets its name from the rocky formations that surround it, and a gorgeous hike takes you to a viewing platform above the water. 132 feet in height, the jagged mountains which off-set the scene are a relic from ancient times, making this one of the most picturesque places in the park.

5. Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley is a must for wildlife enthusiasts, and spotters often head there to see the likes of bears, bison and elk. It’s best to stick to the roads and stay in your car, unless you’re an expert in safely viewing large wild animals. Lamar is also the place where wolves were reintroduced to the park, so keep an eye out if you happen to be there at dawn or dusk.

6. Mount Washburn

Mount Washburn is hiking territory par excellence, and has routes for all abilities. The path to the top requires some scrambling. Beginners should give themselves a full day to get up and down. The altitude doesn’t agree with everyone, and at over 10,000 feet, some may feel a little out of breath.

7. Midway Geyser Basin

There are three Geyser Basins — the other two are called Upper and Lower. Midway is the smallest of the three, but it is home to the iconic Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. It’s one of the most colorful features to be found in the whole of Yellowstone.

8. Old Faithful

Old Faithful Geyser
Image by Emily Campbell via Unsplash

Old Faithful is perhaps the best known of all of Yellowstone’s geysers, and it can be found in the Upper Geyser Basin. You won’t need to wait long to see it in action as Old Faithful erupts around 17 times a day.

9. Mud Volcano

For an utterly-smelly whiff of something completely different, seek out the Mud Volcano. With a ground full of sulfuric acid and clay, the surrounding odor resembles rotten eggs. Don’t let this pungent whiff put you off, as the sight when you arrive is like walking onto a film set.

10. The Petrified Forests

We couldn’t leave a petrified forest out of our top 10, and it seemed unfair to only mention one! Yellowstone’s pair can be found on Mount Amethyst and Specimen Ridge to the park’s northeast. The trees here are found in volcanic rocks dating back 50 million years. They were fossilized by silica fluids seeping into the wood after the trees had been buried.

We hope you enjoy your time in Yellowstone National Park. Have fun ticking off our top 10 best natural wonders from your travel itinerary! As with all adventures, a little planning goes a long way, so be sure to pack well and tread carefully. With that in mind, we wish you the adventure of a lifetime! Check out our guide to 5 epic US national park road trips while you’re here!

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