With rainbow-coloured hot springs, gurgling geysers and bubbling mud pools, it's no wonder the early explorers' tales of Yellowstone National Park sounded more like fable than fact.
Brimming with half of the world’s hydrothermal features and landscapes that'll have you wondering if you’re still in the United States (or on Earth!), Yellowstone National Park is just as extraordinary for modern explorers. Join your local guide to uncover the beauty and mystery of the world's oldest national park. Whether you want to marvel at the vivid colours of Grand Prismatic Spring, watch steaming geysers like Old Faithful erupt or follow a wolf-tracking expert in Lamar Valley to learn the secrets of these mysterious animals, you'll soon discover why Yellowstone is a national park like no other.
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Highlights of Yellowstone National Park
Watch Old Faithful erupt
Yellowstone is home to over 10,000 thermal features – including the highest concentration of geysers on the planet – but Old Faithful is the superstar. Watch safely from the sidelines as this mighty cone geyser shoots 14,000 litres of hot water high into the air. There are around 20 eruptions a day, with each lasting two to five minutes. Listen out for the powerful roaring sounds as Old Faithful begins to erupt as well as the gurgling plughole sounds of other geysers nearby.
Summit Mount Washburn
Hike to one of the most beautiful lookout spots in the park, the summit of Mount Washburn. The trail to the summit travels through picturesque subalpine parkland where wildflowers cover the grass and bighorn sheep can be seen grazing in nearby meadows. At over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) you can enjoy spectacular views of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – a giant rift in a landscape of forested hills - plus Yellowstone Lake, the Teton Range, and Electric Peak.
Marvel at Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring is full of heat-loving microbes that create a rainbow rim of vivid colours around the edge of the water. At a mighty 112 meters (370 feet) wide and 49 meters (160 feet) deep (FYI, that's bigger than a soccer field and taller than a 10-story building), it's also the largest hot spring in the US. Walk along the boardwalk to get up close to the hypnotising colours or hike to the overlook for an impressive bird's eye view. Grand Prismatic Spring is the kind of site that needs to be seen to be believed.
Hike the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Yellowstone might be known for its steamy hot springs, geysers and mud pools, but the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is equally impressive. Carved out over 150,000 years by the Yellowstone River, the canyon is a mighty 366 meters (1,200 feet) deep and 32 km (20 miles) long. There are multiple hiking trails to explore, but the North Rim Trail offers some of the most dramatic vantage points including Crystal Falls, Upper Falls and the thundering Lower Falls which plummets over 91 meters (300 feet).
Explore Mammoth Hot Springs
The eerie and everchanging landscape of Mammoth Hot Springs is a sight to behold. The travertine formations and bubbling mud pools have formed over thousands of years from snowmelt that seeps into the earth before passing through an impressive underground plumbing system. The water is then heated and mixed with sulphur before rising to the surface through small crevices. As pretty as it is, the site is quite hot and stinky thanks to all the gas that bubbles to the surface. Still, it's totally worth it.
Spot wildlife in Lamar Valley
Did you know Yellowstone is the only place in the US where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times? Lamer Valley is one of the best places to see herds of bison, deer and elk. If you’re lucky, you might also see grizzly bears, black bears and wolves. Driving through Lamar Valley is an experience in itself with spectacular views of the park. You could also join a real-life wolf tracker for the day to learn the secrets of these mysterious animals and hopefully spot one in its natural habitat.
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Yellowstone National Park FAQs
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
Most of Yellowstone is located in northwestern Wyoming, but some areas of the park also spread across southern Montana and eastern Idaho.
You can get to Yellowstone by flying into one of the nearby airports, driving or taking a bus. The closest airports are Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (north entrance), Yellowstone Regional Airport (east entrance), and Jackson Hole Airport (south entrance). It’s also possible to fly into other nearby airports like Chicago, Salt Lake City, Utah or Denver where you can then rent a car.
If you're driving, you can access Yellowstone via one of five entry points. It takes 4.5 hours to drive from Salt Lake City, 1.5 hours from Idaho Falls, 1.5 hours from Jackson and 1.5 hours from Bozeman. It’s possible to catch a bus from Bozeman in Montana to West Yellowstone all year, and you can also go directly from Idaho to West Yellowstone via bus during the summer months. There is no direct train into Yellowstone, but you could catch a train to southeast Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah and Northern Montana and go from there.
There is no public transport within Yellowstone, so you will need a car to get around. Most roads are closed to vehicles during the winter months due to heavy snowfall, excluding the road to Mammoth Hot Springs, which is maintained for winter travel. There are five entrance points that loop around the park’s main landmarks and it can take hours to drive between them. Always check road and park conditions before you set off.
The best time of year to visit Yellowstone is spring through to early fall as the weather is mild and perfect for hiking. There are also fewer road closures. There is limited access to the park during winter due to weather conditions, but the cooler months can be a great time to see wildlife in the Lamar Valley.
The weather in Yellowstone can change quickly (in all four seasons) so depending on the time of year you visit, you'll definitely want to pack waterproof layers, a sun hat or warm hat, and good, comfortable footwear.
Yellowstone is a wildlife lover’s paradise with an abundance of small animals and large predators. Some of the animals you might get to see include:
Deer (mule deer, pronghorn deer, white-tailed deer)
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. The National Park Service is assessing Yellowstone and removing barriers to accessibility. They have a free app that has up-to-date information for park facilities and trails and accessibility features for your device. However, we’re always happy to talk to travelers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
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