Yellowstone National Park
The first national park: a unique landscape of overwhelming scenic splendor and natural wonders; an immense volcanic cauldron where a bubble of fire from deep inside the earth fuels the world's greatest concentration of geyers; a rich and varied wilderness of forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, plains, and canyons, inhabited by every animal species.
The queen of all geysers is undoubtedly Old Faithful, the symbol of Yellowstone National Park. The intervals between eruptions average 77 minutes. Old Faithful is one of nearly 300 geysers in Yellowstone National Park. This is the world's largest collection, and it includes some that are bigger than Old Faithful, several that are more spectacular, but none that are as unique as Old Faithful - its pattern of behavior has changed very little for at least a century.
Great Fountain Geyser is the most spectacular of all geysers; it erupts every nine hours and its spouting columns may reach 200 feet in height.
Geysers are but a small part of Yellowstone's incredible range of thermal features. There are about 10,000 such features in the park, ranging from fumaroles - roaring hillside vents or small whistling holes from which no water emerges, only live steam - to beautifully tinted, placid-looking hot lakes. There are bubblling mud pots, and hot pools, into which water does not erupt but flows steadily. They are often delicately colored, both by minerals and by tiny living creatures that thrive in water that is too cool to boil yet too hot to be touched.
The thermal features of Mammoth Hot Springs are quite different from thermal areas elsewhere in the park. Travertine formations grow much more rapidy than sinter formations due to the softer nature of limestone. As hot water rises through limestone, large quantities of rock are dissolved by the hot water, and a white chalky mineral is deposited on the surface. The location of springs and the rate of flow changes daily, but the overall volume of water discharged by all of the springs fluctuates little.
The Gardner River runs along the North Entrance Road from Gardiner, Montana, to Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. After driving three miles you'll see a sign where the road crosses the Gardner River, which marks the 45th parallel of latitude. This is where "Boiling River," a natural spring pool, is located. You walk about a half mile along a path bordering the Gardner River until you arrive at the place where a large hot spring, called Boiling River, enters the Gardner River. Rocks are piled up in the river to create natural pools where the hot and cold water mingle to create comfortable places to soak and relax.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. The canyon is a very recent geologic feature - it's no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old. It was formed by erosion by the Yellowstone River. Its beauty and grandeur are unsurpassed.
The Upper Falls is upstream from the Lower Falls and is 109 feet high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom's Trail. The Lower Falls is 308 feet high and can be seen from Lookout Point, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, and from various points on the South Rim Trail. The Lower Falls is often described as being more than twice the size of the Niagara Falls.
The Yellowstone River is the force that created not only the canyon but also the falls. It begins on the slopes of Yount Peak, south of the park, and travels more than 600 miles to its terminus in North Dakota where it empties into the Missouri River. It is the longest undammed river in the continental United States.
The Park's largest lake is Yellowstone Lake. It covers 136 square miles and is 20 miles long by 14 miles wide. It has 110 miles of shoreline. The lake is at least 320 feet deep in the West Thumb area and has an average depth of 140 feet. Situated at an elevation of 7,733 feet, the lake remains cold year round, with an average temperature of 41 degrees F (it is frozen nearly half the year). Because of the extremely cold water, swimming is not recommended. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States that is above 7,000 feet and is one of the largest such lakes in the world.
Hayden Valley is one of the best places in the park to view a wide variety of wildlife. It is an excellent place to look for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring and early summer when they may be preying upon newborn bison and elk calves. Large herds of bison may be viewed in the spring, early summer, and during the fall rut, which usually begins late July to early August. Coyotes can almost always be seen in the valley.
Lamar Valley is home to herds of elk, bison, and several packs of wolves, making it Yellowstone National Park’s prime location to view wildlife. Lamar Valley yields a breathtaking wide-open landscape scattered with ponds and large boulders. Its saturation in natural beauty and wondrous opportunity make Lamar Valley as attractive to tourists as it is to wildlife.
Whatever time of year you choose to visit Lamar Valley, a spectrum of wildlife will be abundant. In the summers, expect to see quietly grazing elk, bison, and mule deer. Of the predators, coyote are numerous. After their reintroduction, wolves have also been seen here. Although rare, visitors have reported seeing wolves take down an elk. Lamar Valley is also one of the best places in the park to watch for grizzly bears. In the spring time, Lamar Valley rewards visitors with precious sightings of infant bison and elk. In the winter, the valley is the main winter range for the elk and bison herds of northern Yellowstone. Wildlife can be seen either from a car or from a trail.
Things to do:
Back country hiking Picnicking
Bicycling Ranger - Led Programs (Summer and Winter)
Boating Viewing Historic Points of Interest
Day Hikes Viewing Natural Points of Interest
Fishing Wildlife Viewing
Horseback Riding Winter Activities (Snow Coach Rides.
Park Education Guided Snowmobile Tours, Snowshoeing)