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Yellowstone National Park, United States

44° 28′ 2.64″ N, 110° 36′ 10.8″ W

Overview

When you’re thinking of an outdoor destination, one that combines aspects of calculus, rare geothermal formations, and a super volcano, where would you go? Does Wyoming come to mind? Yellowstone is America’s first National Park, holding its crown high against the common misconception that Yosemite was its predecessor. When Western explorers first heard tell of boiling rivers and geysers that shoot hundreds of feet in the air, they couldn’t believe their ears, so imagine their reaction when they first came upon Old Faithful spraying steam with an angry roar into the still alpine air. Since those early days, scientists have established a complex equation that predicts exactly when the famous geyser will erupt - a small example of how beloved this area has become. 

Although Old Faithful may be the most regular of the geysers, truth be told, the park is chuck full of others with names reflecting their appearances, such as Castle Geyser and Steamboat. The massive caldera of lava that resides underneath the park powers these heated geothermal wonder fountains, creating an alien landscape of scarred rock, colorful extremophile microorganisms, and bubbling hot springs. In the Boiling River, you can even take advantage of the subterranean action by taking a dip in the some of the park’s cooler liquid effluence; be careful about getting too close to the springs, though, they can still be exceedingly hot. In the north of the park sits the terraced Mammoth Hot Springs, a testimony to Mother Nature’s divine architectural skills - travertine precipitates out of the water as it leaves the ground, forming sculpted hillsides made of a collection of a thousand tiny pools obscured by wisps of steam. 

It’s easy to forget to look beyond the high drama of the geyser and hot spring basins, but those who do won’t regret it. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is responsible for the park’s name, or so historians think, as the name given to the area by the indigenous Hidatsa people roughly translates as “Rock Yellow River”. The canyon features glowing yellow walls, multiple captivating waterfalls, and trails scattered throughout that let visitors get up close and personal to experience the vast space. While exploring, encounters with the natives, including bison, black bears, pronghorn antelope, and elk, are common. After a day of visiting the park’s sights, it’d be worthwhile to take a dip in Yellowstone Lake, one of the highest elevation bodies of water in the country. 

After a tiring day of gasping at geysers, soaking in springs, and walking with wildlife, there’s yet another aspect of the park that will steal anyone’s breath - after the sun sets, look up, and we wish you all the best at trying to look away.  

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Lower Geyser Basin

Grand Geothermal Goodness

Mammoth Hot Springs

The Steaming Hill

Biscuit Basin

Sorry, No Biscuis

Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful Home

Norris Geyser Basin

Feel the Heat

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Heart of the Park

Lone Star Geyser Trail

North Rim Trail

Trail to Inspiration

Old Faithful

Yellowstone's Symbol

Grand Loop Road

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