Imagine the warm glow of a wilderness campfire after a long day exploring some of America’s best backcountry terrain. Or, the pastel palette of a sunrise sky on the morning before an afternoon float along a raging river.
The American West is full of places, on the map and off the beaten track, that turn imagination into reality. Yellowstone National Park is the most iconic destination for rookie travelers and die-hard thrill-seekers alike.
If you’re a stranger to the majesty and beauty of the mountains, valleys, waterways and great heights of America’s oldest National Park, here are the most compelling reasons to get acquainted.
It’s a bucket list check mark
Of the 58 National Parks in the United States, Yellowstone is the best. Don’t take it from me. Just ask any of the 4.25 million people from all over the world who visited the park in 2016. Boasting some of the most diverse backcountry on the planet, Yellowstone is a top destination for people looking to check a box (or two) off the old bucket list.
A big draw for visitors of all stripes is the sheer amount of things to do and see. Whether it’s a day trip to Old Faithful, an hour of horseback riding, a few days backpacking and paddling, or a whole summer watching wildlife, there are countless itineraries and destinations for everyone.
Yellowstone National Park spans Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Chances are, there’s an adventure appropriate for you in every one of them.
It’s itinerary friendly
The logistics of what to pack, where to stay and how to coordinate getting from landmark to landmark can be daunting. For strangers, the sheer size of Yellowstone National Park can be enough to opt for a smaller, more negotiable outdoor experience. The reality is, Yellowstone is very manageable if you take the time to plan and stick to an itinerary.
Hiring a guide or joining a guided adventure tour is good advice for newcomers looking to maximize miles while minimizing hassle. For those seeking a getaway from civilization, group travel might seem counter-intuitive. The truth is, an experienced leader can take you farther off the map than you’d be able to get on your own. Yellowstone terrain is impressive but massive and dangerous. If you’re faithful to your plans, adventure companies can help you realize them by providing necessary gear and delicious meals, saving you enormous time and energy for experiencing the best of what the park has to offer.
It’s a lesson in humility
Yellowstone’s major geological features are the result of its 3,468 square miles mostly situated on a volcano. Its thermal features are unmatched. Nowhere else in the world is it possible to visit as many different types of hot springs, geysers, and mud pots. If you’re no stranger to that, then consider its delicate ecosystem of animals and plants not found anywhere else in North America.
Yellowstone National Park changes from season to season. A summer visit may be unrecognizable to the returning visitor the following winter. The scenery may seem a green paradise of forest, meadows, and flowers in the spring. The same spot in autumn might be blanketed in early snow, in the company of grizzly, moose, elk, and bison. Respecting the flora, fauna, and animals is a practice in humility. Remember, you are in their backyard.
Don’t be a stranger. Plan an adventure vacation of a lifetime in Yellowstone to witness Mother Nature in all her wildness. It may be your best chance to experience a top-notch National Park, untamed and teeming with natural life, spectacular landscapes, and unbelievable adventure.