Yellowstone is a huge national park and it’s impossible to see everything in one visit, or even 100 visits! We were in Yellowstone for four days and stayed at the amazing Old Faithful Inn. Look for our post about our stay in the Inn here. We did a few different things during our visit: an evening Historic Yellow Bus tour, an all day tour on a cool 80s vintage bus, hikes and walks leaving from the Inn, and various wanderings around the Park using GyPSy tours. Here is a kaleidoscope of our favorite things.
If you want a blast from the not so distant past, book a tour on this 1980s vintage Yellowstone Park bus. The park has only 2 or 3 of these, and the word from our guide is that they are about to be retired – so sad! Our tour covered the 90 mile Grand Loop in a counterclockwise drive. I booked this tour because I enjoy gawking and it’s hard to gawk while safely driving and managing all the summertime traffic, so off we went!
We stopped at Lake Yellowstone Hotel for a quick look. This Grand Lodge Hotel is definitely worth a look around and the style was quite a contrast from the Old Faithful Inn where we were staying. We visited on a gray rainy day in July and the bright yellow of the hotel was a wonderful pop of color amidst the Yellowstone landscape. We wished we had more time to sit in the fancy lobby sipping a hot coffee and absorbing the atmosphere of this incredible place. The gift shop was very cool, too! We saw some amazing hand made creations different than the tourist kitsch that piqued our curiosity. This one is worth a stop.
Hayden Valley is a wonderful place for wildlife spotting. We stopped at a pullout to watch this mama bison and her baby frolic and play alongside the Yellowstone River. Baby bison are red for only the first three weeks of life and are referred to as ‘red dogs.’ Wolves are colorblind to red, so this makes spotting the vulnerable calves much more difficult for this major predator of bison.
Artist’s Point is a must stop attraction in Yellowstone National Park. The 1,000 foot canyon was carved by the great Yellowstone River. The canyon walls painted in yellow, orange, and red awe the spirit. I think I took a million pictures here of the same thing. It’s just so epic, it almost looks fake!
There are a few trails to walk near Artist’s Point. Take your time and enjoy the views from all the different terraces. The scenery is breathtaking and gave as an idea why this grand park had been named Yellowstone. The 1,000 foot canyon with its river ever rushing towards the ocean inspires an awe that stirs the spirit.
Gibbon Falls is another breathtaking place to stop, if you are lucky enough to find parking. The falls drops 84 feet and is a memorizing. Be sure to walk downstream as far as you can (where this photo was taken), the views only get better! This falls provided a barrier for fish up until the 1890s when rainbow trout were introduced into the river above these falls.
Porcelain Basin was a complete surprise to us! We hadn’t heard anything about it but turned in on a whim. The parking was crazy, but we lucked out with a spot and off we hiked. This basin is a photographer’s paradise! We wandered here for a couple hours, there is a lot to see and the colors on a pretty day were vibrant and inspiring.
Fountain paint pots in the Lower Geyser Basin is an absolute must stop. There are several different geologic features here that will amaze and delight every visitor. Also, you’ll find a few perpetual geysers that are always spewing, which makes for an exciting walk on the boardwalks.
There is so much to see in Yellowstone, you can’t possibly see it all in one day, or even several days. We loved these places and think they are all worth a stop on your Grand Circle driving tour. There are a couple extra special places that deserve their own write up. Look for our hike to Observation Point, our Historic Yellow Bus Tour, our stay at the Old Faithful Inn, and our Grand Prismatic Spring hike in separate posts.
Have you been to Yellowstone? What are your favorite places to visit there?