Yellowstone National Park
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Plan Your Trip to Yellowstone National Park: Best of Yellowstone National Park Tourism

Explore Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone brings the drama—this is where bison roam, waterfalls crash, and mountains loom large. And then there’s the geothermal stuff—hot springs, geysers, and boiling mud pots. The most famous is Old Faithful, a geyser that has reliably erupted for decades. Yellowstone is also massive in scope. While it’s located primarily in Wyoming, it extends into Montana and Idaho and has five separate entrances. You'll need a vehicle to get the most out of the park, but its sprawling size doesn’t mean you’ll be on your own. In fact, you'll be joined by more than three million visitors per year. Prepare for traffic jams caused by both humans and wildlife. Luckily, there are plenty of places to rest around the park, including nine lodges and 2,100 campsites. See below for more recs to make the most of your trip.

Essential Yellowstone National Park

How to do Yellowstone National Park in 3 days

Geyser shows, thundering waterfalls, and wildlife spotting
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Top hikes in Yellowstone National Park

These days, Yellowstone National Park is almost as synonymous with crowds as it is wildlife. The world’s first national park sees nearly a million monthly visitors come summer. But most of those crowds are windshield warriors, experiencing the park via scenic drives. That’s why I find hiking there so rewarding. It’s surprisingly easy to get up close and personal with this picturesque, steaming supervolcano on these trails.
  • Lone Star Geyser
    I love this trek as a first-day hike. It’s a flat yet rewarding 5.3 miles (round-trip) that will get you warmed up and used to Yellowstone’s elevation. The route follows an old service road along the pine-clad waters of Firehole River, eventually leading to the Lone Star Geyser, which can erupt up to 45 feet high. Stop in the nearest visitor centre and ask about eruption times, as this one spurts and spews roughly every three hours.
  • Mount Washburn
    This is the classic Yellowstone mountain hike, and I especially love it in summer when the meadows are blanketed with wildflowers (and bighorn sheep). It’s 4.5–6.5 miles one-way, depending on the route you choose—there are two, and they have a similar elevation gain of roughly 1,400 feet. On both, you’ll catch views of the Tetons and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Try to start this one early to avoid afternoon storms.
  • Observation Point Trail
    This is a short and sweet 1.6 miles that you can access from the Old Faithful boardwalk. It takes you to views above the Upper Geyser Basin, and I like it because you get a bit more elbow room than you’ll get down on the boardwalk. If you’ve got extra energy, keep going another .9 miles, and you’ll come across Solitary Geyser, a small but frequent erupter (less than every 10 minutes!) that guarantees some action.
  • Bunsen Peak
    At 4.4 miles round-trip with 1,300 feet in elevation gain, Bunsen Peak makes for a quick 11%-grade thigh-burner. Pack your sunscreen for this one, as the forest is sparse—which is great for the views but not so great for your skin. Once at the top, you’ll get phenomenal vistas of the Gallatin and Washburn mountain ranges, the Yellowstone River Valley, and beyond. Start this one early to avoid storms and crowds.
  • Mystic Falls Trail
    While you could do the easy 2.4-mile round-trip to Mystic Falls—a 70-foot cascade surrounded by new-growth forest and ancient lava—I like making the trek a 3.5-mile lollipop loop, tacking on views of the Upper Geyser Basin. Following the steaming Firehole River and crossing the geothermal Biscuit Basin, this trek is a popular one, so come early (or late!) for the best, crowd-free experience.
  • North Rim Trail
    I love the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, but driving from crowded overlook to crowded overlook isn’t the way to do it. Instead, park at the Brink of the Lower Falls car park and explore the North Rim on foot, all the way to Inspiration Point. It’s just over six partially paved miles (round-trip) of fabulous waterfall and canyon views, all easier to appreciate at the slower pace of hiking—and away from the swarming crowds on the overlooks.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
    Being next to the rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Spring is great—being *above* it is so much better. It’s just .8 miles from the Fairy Falls car park to the overlook, and getting just that much further away from (and 100 feet above) the spring makes it that much easier to take in the entire kaleidoscope of colours. From there, it’s a 1.8-mile trek to the 200-foot Fairy Falls, which adds some thundering awe to your otherwise quiet, steamy sojourn.