Find Fun Things to Do in the Amazing Wilderness of Yellowstone National Park
Of all of the parks in the United States, I consider Yellowstone National Park to be the most fun. Not for a second was I ever bored or wishing that I was anywhere else in the world. Why? The area is teeming with wildlife at every turn. You don’t have to go searching through the woods to find them, they’re constantly right in front of you. That’s just the half of it. Yellowstone is probably the most scenic area in the whole country. If you haven’t gazed upon the steaming geysers and crystal pools in this park, or looked on in awe at the massive Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you haven’t truly seen what the U.S. has to offer. Read on to find some fun things to do in Yellowstone National Park that everyone can handle, from kids to seniors.
Visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
No, this isn’t the Grand Canyon in Arizona, it’s Yellowstone’s glacier and magma carved own canyon, boasting two gigantic waterfalls that splash 1200 feet downward. With an impressive horizontal spread and dramatic viewpoints that can easily be accessed all around the falls, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone should be one of your must-sees on your trip. Visit and you’ll get a sense of the over 600,000 years Mother Earth has been carving this wonderous canyon, and a taste of how powerful this underground supervolcano can be.
Gaze Upon the Other Worldly Mammoth Hot Springs
One of the strangest places in Yellowstone is the enigmatic Mammoth Hot Springs. Here, terraces of rock and mud overflow with water heated by the earth, forming a most unusual display. The springs have a large calcium carbonate deposit, which is evident when you see some of the characteristic dead trees in the area. The water is also slightly cooler than some of the other geothermal areas of Yellowstone, allowing algae and micro bacteria to tint the water rust oranges, browns, and brilliant aqua shades.
Read more about Mammoth Hot Springs:
Spot a Bear, Wolf, or Bison
While the thought of bears can be intimidating, hundreds of visitors every year see bears in the park and aren’t harmed. Read “How to escape from a bear” for some tips on what to do when you encounter any type of bear in the wilderness. In Yellowstone, you’ll encounter either a Grizzly or Black Bear. It’s possible to spot them on any hike, but it’s most likely you’ll see them in clearings in forests or on the outskirts of forests. So, keep your distance, know what to do if a bear comes close, and enjoy them!
Yellowstone is also home to some famous wolf packs. Being reintroduced into the park, these wolves are enjoying a resurgence of sorts, but their numbers are still slightly low. Like with any wild animal, exercise caution and know what to do when you encounter one of these creatures.
Bison are an easy find in the park. You can find them roaming the geothermal beds of Norris Basin, often near Old Faithful, and on the edges of Yellowstone Lake. Like wolves and bears, these can be dangerous animals, so don’t get close! Keep your distance, even though they’ll sometimes be in the middle of the road…
Grand Teton National Park: Minutes From Yellowstone
Connected to Yellowstone National Park is Grand Teton National Park, one of the most beautiful spots in the country. With the gorgeous Snake River winding beneath the mountains, you’ll find many views of the Tetons from down below near Jackson, Wyoming, along with incredible hiking opportunities inside the park. The peaks of Teton range are usually snow capped all year, and snow can occur at any time within both Yellowstone and Grand Teton. An August snow isn’t unheard of!
Watch Old Faithful Erupt
You never know what to expect in the constantly changing landscape of the Mud Volcano region. This is where you’ll find hundreds of active geysers and the most geothermal geyser activity in the world! Drive along roads as steam vents let loose a fog into the air (the bison don’t seem to mind), and schedule a visit based on the eruption schedule of favorite geysers like Old Faithful. This geyser in particular erupts on a schedule, varying between eruptions, but being very regular. You can find a schedule right at the viewing area near the lodge.
For a truly genuine western style trip to Yosemite, horseback riding is the way to go. See the park the way the pioneers of the old west saw the state, from a little bit higher up, and a little bit of a bumpy ride. Explore areas you might not otherwise be able to see, and have fun in group trips. Horseback riding is offered all over Yellowstone, in many of the towns like West Yellowstone, Jackson, and in the Tetons.
Cross Country Skiing
Without the crowds and under a blanket of snowfall, you can fully enjoy the park and its pristine beauty and serenity. The wildlife is still here, and the geysers are still active. It’s a combination that will leave you speechless, and you’ll have some of the best photos and memories of your life. Popular activities are snowmobiling (which is highly controversial in the park, due to the destruction snowmobiles can leave on the environment) snowshoeing (except near the geothermal areas), ranger led winter hikes, photography, and cross country skiing.
All photos licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 on flickr
- Winter Wonderland – Adventurous Wench
- Grand Teton Reflections – Jay Galvin
- Bison in Yellowstone – Julia Manzerova
- Mammoth Hot Springs – Roygullem
- Yellowstone Lower Falls – Savannah Grandfather
- Grand Prismatic Spring – Alaskan Dude
If you’re planning a trip to the Yellowstone area, be sure to read this guide I’ve written on the best hotels in and near Yosemite National Park. It includes the Jackson Hole region, and towns in the vicinity of the park in Wyoming and Montana.