With rainbow-coloured hot springs, gurgling geysers and bubbling mud pools, it’s no wonder no one believed the early explorers' tales of Yellowstone National Park.

Brimming with half of the world’s hydrothermal features and landscapes that'll have you wondering if you’re still in the US (or earth), Yellowstone National Park is just as extraordinary for explorers today. Uncover the beauty and mystery of the world's oldest national park with your local guide. Whether you want to marvel at the vivid colours of Grand Prismatic Spring, watch steamy geysers erupt high into the sky, follow a local wolf-tracking expert or search for buffalo, bison, elk and grizzly bears in the lush Lamar Valley, you'll discover why Yellowstone is truly a national park like no other. 

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Highlights of Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful geyser erupting in 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.

The colorful Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park

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 370 feet wide and 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.

The Yellowstone River running through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

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 1,200 ft (366 m) deep and 20 miles (32 km) 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 300 feet (91 m).

A bull elk standing in Boiling River near people who are bathing

Enjoy a natural hot tub in Boiling River

Take a relaxing dip after a big day of hiking in this natural hot tub. Unlike most thermal hot springs in Yellowstone which are forbidden to swim in, this designated bathing area is where the hot spring water mixes with the cold mountain water of Gardener River, making it comfortable enough to swim. Some areas of the river are hotter than others, and the fun part is moving around to find your sweet spot. When you’re done soaking, enjoy a picnic with a view of Mt. Everts in the background.

The upper and lower terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

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.

A herd of bison grazing in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park

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

Everyone travelling on an Intrepid trip must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of carriage. 

All travellers are required to produce:  

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • All children aged 5 to 17 years old must provide proof of vaccination (if eligible), proof of recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
  • If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

In all cases, you must be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect. Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

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 Jackon 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 here.

You will need a car as there is no public transport. Most roads are closed to vehicles during the winter months due to heavy snowfall, except the road to Mammoth Hot Springs. 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.

Read more about the weather in Yellowstone

You’ll be doing lots of walking so bring comfy clothes, hiking boots or sneakers, and thick socks that prevent blisters. The weather can change quickly so pack a warm fleece or jacket, waterproof layers, a sun hat, a warm hat, and gloves. Also make sure to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, a daypack, water bottle, basic medications and plenty of snacks to refuel throughout the day. Last but not least, don’t forget your camera! 

Read more about what to pack for Yellowstone

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:

  • Bison  

  • Elk  

  • Moose  

  • Deer (mule deer, pronghorn deer, white-tailed deer)  

  • Bighorn sheep  

  • Mountain goats   

  • Black bears  

  • Grizzly bears   

  • Canada lynx  

  • Coyote  

  • Wolves   

  • River otters 

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. 

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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