Top Nine Spots to Check Out On Your Next Yellowstone Adventure

If you’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it our nation’s first nation­al park, you know how over­whelm­ing it can be. Encom­pass­ing more than 3,000 square miles and con­tain­ing the largest con­cen­tra­tion of geot­her­mal attrac­tions in the coun­try, it’s safe to say there’s a lot to see in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park.

Out­side of the gey­sers, fumaroles and hot springs, Yel­low­stone also con­tains a vast back­coun­try wait­ing to be explored, moun­tain peaks to be climbed, and dozens of his­toric struc­tures worth stop­ping in to. Whether you only have a hol­i­day week­end or you’re plan­ning to spend the sum­mer explor­ing all that Yel­low­stone has to offer, these nine attrac­tions should be at the top of your list.

1. Upper Geyser Basin 
Home to the Old Faith­ful geyser and a pletho­ra of oth­er geot­her­mic hot spots, for many, the Upper Geyser Basin is the epit­o­me of Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park. It’s not only Old Faith­ful that’s worth see­ing though; stretch­ing for near­ly three miles away from the Old Faith­ful Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, planked board­walks lead vis­i­tors to oth­er var­i­ous hot springs, fumaroles and worth­while gey­sers in the area.

2. The Old Faith­ful Inn 
Con­struct­ed in 1903 and locat­ed a few hun­dred yards away from the Old Faith­ful geyser, the Old Faith­ful Inn is an archi­tec­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal won­der to behold. With a clas­sic log-and-stone struc­ture, the ambiance of the Old Faith­ful Inn res­onates in the Gold­en Age it was built, and the his­to­ry it holds res­onates with every­one who vis­its. Reser­va­tions for the Old Faith­ful Inn need to be made months in advance, and if you can’t get your­self a book­ing, it’s still rec­om­mend­ed to check out the Old Faith­ful Inn Din­ing Room for a full-course meal or an awe­some break­fast buffet.

3. West Thumb Geyser Basin 
Over­look­ing the mas­sive “West Thumb” of Yel­low­stone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin takes vis­i­tors on a board­walk tour cov­er­ing lakeshore gey­sers, per­fo­rat­ed pools and surg­ing springs (plus a “paint pot” or two). The view of Yel­low­stone Lake isn’t half-bad either, mak­ing the West Thumb Geyser Basin a quick stop that can be remem­bered for a lifetime.

4. Mid­way Geyser Basin 
The Mid­way Geyser Basin presents some of the largest geot­her­mal attrac­tions found in the park. Most notably, vis­i­tors to the Mid­way Geyser Basin are treat­ed to the mul­ti-col­or arrange­ments of Grand Pris­mat­ic Spring, which can leave you won­der­ing what plan­et you just land­ed on. Upon any vis­it, be sure to not only walk the board­walk sur­round­ing the spring, but take the time to hike from Fairy Falls trail­head to give you a more bird’s-eye view of Grand Pris­mat­ic and the sur­round­ing Mid­way Geyser Basin.

5. Lamar and Hay­den Valley 
If spot­ting wildlife is high on your pri­or­i­ty list when vis­it­ing Yel­low­stone, the Lamar and Hay­den Val­leys should be up on your list. As you sim­ply dri­ve by these cen­tral and north Yel­low­stone val­leys, your chances of spot­ting wildlife are good, and so is the chance of bison cross­ing the road right in front of you. Bring binoc­u­lars along to use while parked at one of the many pull-offs—or ven­ture forth through­out the trails found in the area—and with healthy respect toward the wildlife, you can catch a glimpse of many of Yellowstone’s native res­i­dents includ­ing buf­fa­lo, bears, wolves, and elk.

6. Mount Washburn
If you want to add some ele­va­tion to your Yel­low­stone adven­ture, Mount Wash­burn can take you there. With two trail­heads that access the sum­mit of Mount Wash­burn, and the cor­re­spond­ing oper­a­tional fire tow­er found there, vis­i­tors can choose between steep switch­backs and not-as-steep switch­backs. Either route includes a 5‑plus mile round trip, and both deliv­er on big views that include Hay­den Val­ley, the Grand Canyon of Yel­low­stone and even Grand Teton on clear days.

7. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone 
While Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park might be best not­ed for its incred­i­ble geot­her­mal attrac­tions, it also deliv­ers when it comes to grand vis­tas and water­falls. No bet­ter exam­ple of that can be found than the Grand Canyon of Yel­low­stone, cre­at­ed by the rush­ing water of the Yel­low­stone Riv­er. Both South Rim and North Rim hikes offer views of the oil paint­ing-esque land­scape if you don’t mind tra­vers­ing a good num­ber of stairs to see it all.

8. The Boil­ing River 
Locat­ed near the north­ern bor­der of Yel­low­stone in Mon­tana, the Boil­ing Riv­er is part of the Mam­moth Hot Springs area of the park and offers one of the few legal ther­mal soak­ing areas to sit in. Vis­i­tors to the Boil­ing Riv­er do not, and should not, soak in the near­by hot springs itself, but instead can enjoy the warmth at the junc­tion where the hot water meets the cold water of the Gard­ner Riv­er, cre­at­ing a per­fect place for folks to enjoy the ther­mal pow­ers that make Yel­low­stone what it is.

9. Nor­ris Geyser Basin 
Fea­tur­ing a scorched envi­ron­ment lined with geot­her­mal fea­tures, the Nor­ris Geyser Basin unveils the hottest, old­est and most dynam­ic area of Yel­low­stone. Split into the Back Basin and Porce­lain Basin, the board­walk trails through­out the area feel like gate­ways to a dif­fer­ent plan­et, and the sul­fur steam adds a vis­cer­al ele­ment to the expe­ri­ence. While there are many geyser basins to check out in Yel­low­stone, Nor­ris Geyser is deserv­ing of your time.