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A Day in Yellowstone

A Day in Yellowstone

May 19, 2017

Don’t have enough time to spend a full weekend in Yellowstone National Park? Well, I have great news for you! I have below planned out a day trip to Yellowstone with five of the best stops in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park has 5 entrances which are by the 4 major interstates around the National Park.  I decided to stay in Cody, Wyoming which is 53 miles to the East entrance and is the closest town to the entrance. Cody is a wonderful historic town founded by wild west showman Buffalo Bill in 1896. After our stay in Cody, we woke up early to get a full day in the park and headed on the beautiful stretch of highway between Cody and the East entrance of Yellowstone.  Along the way  is the Shoshone Canyon which also leads you up the amazing Buffalo Bill Dam. Buffalo Bill Dam was completed in 1910 and at that time was the highest concrete dam and the key to opening 90,000 acres to irrigated farming. After the Dam you will enter Yellowstone National Park! Yay, we made it! Now the 1st spot to stop at is the beautiful Yellowstone Lake!

1. Yellowstone lake

Here is your first pit stop! Yellowstone lake is the largest mountain lake stretching 20 miles long and 14 miles across. This lake is especially unique because the shorelines are dotted with geothermal features. There is also a fishing bridge along the shoreline that used to be for fishing, from which it gets its name. But since the decline of cutthroat trout, it is only used as an observatory for fishy creatures.  Plan your trip according  to the seasons. The lake was still frozen over when we went in the spring, and is usually unfrozen in June!

*If you were to enter from the North Entrance, Yellowstone lake would be your last pit stop which is recommended as you can watch the sun fall beneath the mountains.

Along your drive you follow the beauty of the lake along with traffic jams, and I’m not talking about car traffic jams, I’m talking about buffalo! The buffalo is the largest land dwelling animal and is known for their dark brown coats, curved horns and shaggy beards. The massive animal can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and run up to 35 miles per hour so beware and stay a good distance from these animals. If you are worried you might miss seeing these massive creatures put that worry aside. During my trip I saw about 200 bison in just one day trip throughout the park.

*  In 2016 it was estimated that 5,500 buffalo are in Yellowstone National Park.

2. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The next pit stop is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone! This was one of my favorite stops and as soon as you set your eyes on it you will see why. The canyon is up to 4,000 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep and contains vivacious yellows, pinks whites and reds. These bright colors are caused by mineral stain marks,  the location of the hot springs and steam vents in the canyon walls. There are 3 gorgeous waterfalls that are located in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, they include : Lower, Upper and Crystal Falls.  The Lower Falls is one of the most populated and in my mind one of the best waterfalls in the park. Lower falls is 308 feet tall and in terms of height it is twice as tall as Niagra Falls. I went during the spring which is at its peak runoff of 63,500 gallons per seconds.  To see the Lower falls you can stop on the platform, red rock point, artist point, brink of the lower falls trail and Uncle Tom’s trail.

3. Grand Prismatic Springs

Now you’re half way through the park, and you get to lay your eyes on the  largest hot spring in the United States and third largest spring in the world. Grand Prismatic Springs is an area  to seek out inspiration, see the rainbow and be amazed by its depth.  The hot springs sits in the Midway Geyser Basin and is about 300 feet in size. The main attraction at this hot spring is the rainbow waters that contain a cerulean blue, deep reds, bright yellows and fiery oranges that encircle the edge. These luminous colors are caused by pigmented thermophilic bacteria which are based on the temperature of water to what color they will turn.  This hot spot is located 7 miles from Old Faithful and include nearby attractions such as Fairy falls, Excelsior Geyser, Turquoise Pool, Opal Pool and The Firehole river.

*Remember to stay on the boardwalk and to get there either early or late to avoid bus tours.

4. Old Faithful

Old Faithful is one of the most populated stops in Yellowstone National Park and it is one to remember.  Old Faithful was discovered in 1870 by the Washburn Expedition. It was named for its frequent eruptions which have added up to more than a million since Yellowstone became a National Park. When arriving at Old Faithful  there is a board that tells you when the next eruption is going to take place which is really helpful since it goes of at average every 74 minutes.  There are plenty of seats around Old Faithful to watch the eruption.  Old Faithful erupts up to 180 feet in the air and lets out between 3,700 to 8,400 gallons per second and lasts between 1.5 to 4.5 minuets!

5. Mammoth Hot Springs

Our last stop was Mammoth Hot Springs and was slightly disappointed since most of the boardwalks were closed due to snow! So plan your trip according to what you want to see! But we were able to drive around the tavertine’s and see  the ‘inside out cave’. Mammoth is different from other thermal areas in the region and is filled with limestone which is a relatively soft rock that allows tavertine formations to grow much faster than other formations. Mammoth is the only major thermal area that is outside the Yellowstone Caldera, but its energy is attributed to other thermal areas through-out Yellowstone. While you’re there make sure to check out the Visitor’s Center and browse through the history exhibit. You can also watch out for the elk grazing on the green lawns of Mammoth village.

After Mammoth we got out of the park at about 7 o’clock and headed back to Billings! It was a lot of driving but it was amazing to be able to see everything in one day!

*Just some tips to think about when visiting Yellowstone National Park!

*Stop at visitor centers! They have great information about the park that explore the history of the National Park! They also have awesome gift shops that are great gifts for yourself, family or friends!

* Keep an eye out for wildlife! They are especially evident in Lamar Valley and at the Mammoth Visitor Center. Remember to stay a safe distance from the animals and not to turn your back from them!

*Take extra stops to stretch your legs! Going through the park is a long drive if you dont make extra stops and even go for a short hike! My favorite hike in the park is Fairy Falls, if you have extra time make sure to do this!

*Make sure to take your camera!