travel

Travel: What to do in Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park was signed as a national park on March 1, 1872 by President Grant. It is a park full of geothermal features, such as Old Faithful Geyser. Many people do not realize that Yellowstone is held in the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano on the continent. There are over 1,000 archaeological sites and over 1,106 historic structures that make the history of Yellowstone come alive. But don't fret, this is a safe place for families to visit to learn about the function and importance of an ecosystem.

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What to do at Yellowstone National Park

So where does a person start exploring this national park?

West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone is the city accessible from the Western side of the park. This small town boasts great novelty shops, as well as a great performing theater, The Playmill Theater, which is a must see. Our family loves their comedies and their intermission shows.

Once you enter the park, be prepared to drive. Mother Nature did not stick the great sites right next to each other. You'll definitely want to give yourself a couple days to explore the park. There is a great tool on the park's homepage that helps you plan your visit.

Old Faithful

The legendary Old Faithful Geyser is a must see. Over 5,000 gallons of steaming water shoot up 150 feet into the sky.

The "Grand Canyon"

Can't make it to the Grand Canyon in the Southwest, visit the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone. Relatively young in terms of existence, this great feature is twenty miles long within the forest. With an amazing view of a waterfall.

Wildlife

If you kids are thrilled to see wildlife, including bison, pelicans, elk, geese, and maybe even a grizzly bear, the Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley is perfect for you. Just a reminder: there are no fences. You are in the animals home and, thus, they can be the cause of frequent traffic jams.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Another great sight is the Mammoth Hot Springs (our featured picture). Due to the deposit of limestone in this area when the hot water heats it, a white, chalky mineral is pushed to the top. Though water isn't shooting up into the air, the springs demonstrate the changing thermal patterns under our feet. This area is the Headquarters of the Park and also contains the oldest buildings within the park.

Norris Geyser Basin

Take a walk through the Norris Geyser Basin where you can get closer to the springs. Due to the acidic water, the forest circles the basin as no trees can live within the springs. This basin is the home of the largest active geyser of the park. The Steamboat Geyser can reach a height of 380 ft. However, it isn't as predictable as Old Faithful but one can always hope to see a bit of action at the site. The Lower Geyser Basin is home to the famous Fountain Paint Pots.

Dragon's Mouth Spring

Remember those childhood stories of a dragon sleeping in a cave with steam erupting from the cave? Well, see this first hand at Dragon's Mouth Spring.

All in all, there is much to be explored within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Animals will roam around your cars and come up to your picnic tables while your back is turned. Geysers and hot springs will surely excite the kids.

What is your favorite national park to visit with your family?

Top photo courtesy of Flickr

Second photo courtesy of Flickr

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