Yellowstone is one of those truly remarkable and magical places. Geysers, hot springs, colorful pools, and fascinated geology abound throughout the park. The wildlife are incredible and seeing bison roam free is spectacular. Yellowstone is in bear country so be sure that you know what to do if you come in contact with a bear and how to avoid bear contacts (details).
- Old Faithful: Be advised that this is a very touristy spot. After seeing Old Faithful take the boardwalks through the smaller geysers and pools. Be sure to do the loop trail so that you can see different sights both going and returning.
- Mammoth Hot Springs: Mammoth is one of the big tourist areas with Visitor Center, lodging, restaurants, etc. My favorite area were the terraces. These unique sediment formations created many layers of pools. There were also mud points and small geysers. Be sure to traverse all of the boardwalks and try to avoid the times with maximum crowds.
- Norris Geyser Basin: This is another remarkable and well-traveled spot. Boardwalks meander through a series of pools, mudpots, and geysers. There are strange sedimentary rock formations throughout.
- Waterfalls: Yellowstone has a number of impressive waterfalls (details) including Yellowstone Falls, Undine Falls, Wraith Falls, Gibbon Falls, etc. Many of these are only a short hike from the parking areas.
- Midway Geyser Basin: This area has some of the most impressive pools and geysers in the park.
- Wildlife: The wildlife includes bison, bears, foxes, elk, moose, etc. Be respectful of the wildlife and do NOT approach them. Remember that bison and bear can outrun Olympic cyclists so you will have NO chance outrunning these animals. Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
- Grand Teton: (details) Grand Teton National Park is adjacent to Yellowstone and but it is most definitely worth visiting. Grand Teton contains some of the most spectacular mountains that I have ever seen. You can easily go from West Yellowstone and take the Grand Teton loop in one day.
Yellowstone is a very unique and magical place. Have extreme respect for the park, the wildlife, and do not harm or disturb the delicate features. Wildlife abounds in Yellowstone but remember that is it called wildlife for a reason. Remember that the bison and bears in the park and injure, maim, or kill you with very little effort. These animals are large but also very fast. If you were a bicycle racer you would have trouble outrunning these animals while riding at full speed. Some other tips include:
- Make use the Visitor Centers and ask the rangers for suggestions. The rangers know the park very well and can give you expert, first-hand advice.
- Try to avoid the touristy areas during peak hours and take your time to get good photos. Wait for the tourists to take their selfies and try to get clear shots. Many of these areas will be crowded throughout the day but early morning and late afternoon may have smaller crowds.
- Bring a stable tripod because you may want to get longer exposure shots of water features and geysers. Use a neutral density filter to reduce light when taking longer exposure photos in bright light.
- Always carry bear spray on trails and know how to use it. I did not have to use the bear spray but I had it at-the-ready.
- Drive slowly because there is an abundance of wildlife and some of these animals are NOT very street-smart. Keep extra distance from the car ahead of you. If the car has to panic stop because an animal ran in front of the car you want to have enough stopping distance.
- Enjoy the park by packing lunches and snack and eating them in scenic areas. Do NOT feed the animals.