As the first and arguably most famous of the American National Parks, Yellowstone provides a huge and varied landscape of lakes, canyons and geothermal features- making it one of the most unique national parks! It can be a little overwhelming when planning a visit, so I’ve compiled a list of my five must-see locations.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
This region is a little boardwalk trail wrapping around a bunch of colorful hot springs. My favorite was the Abyss Pool which was a lovely rainbow color. This thermal area is backed up to the West Thumb section of Yellowstone Lake. In fact, there is a famous story of a man who got separated from his expedition and lost in Yellowstone who survived the winter by fishing in the lake, then cooking the fish in the hot springs!
Grand Prismatic Springs
Words can’t quite describe how colorful this is. On one side of the boardwalk is a pale grayish-white clay. On the other is a riot of color, fading from brown to orange red and yellow, the a central circle of yellow green and blue. It looks like something that an artist has made up for some fantasy world- and yet here it is in front of you. Mind your hat though- we saw more than a few caps scattered around the shallows of the pool.
Old Faithful Area
Obviously one of the big draws of Yellowstone is Old Faithful. Although she’s apparently been getting less faithful over the years, there is still a board with the estimated times of eruptions for several of the geysers in the area. I particularly liked the Lion Geyser and the Grand Geyser eruption.
Black Sand Basin
The Emerald Pool is super pigmented- you’ve probably seen pictures of it if you’re already looking up photos of Yellowstone. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was in the generic bathroom photo on my hotel. I also really liked the Rainbow Pool, which had a pale center, but brightly colored edges. You can see rainbows in the hazy steam.
Somehow I’d never heard of this before and yet it is one of the most alien landscapes I’ve ever seen! The formations are like little flat pools all stacked on top of each other. It’s as if there were once candles that all melted down on top of each other. I’ve never seen anything like this outside of a cave system, and yet it just sits right out in the open. This is toward the north end of the park and may therefore be saved for the first or last stop of the trip, depending on your direction of origin.