Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the world—and still the most famous. It has gorgeous mountains, abundant wildlife and placid lakes set within a multicolored land of steam and waterfalls. The unique qualities of the area were recognized when Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, 18 years before Wyoming became a state.
Yellowstone is best known for its large number of geothermal features—steaming mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs and active geysers, including Old Faithful. The park contains more than 10,000 thermal sites, more than in all the rest of the world, and new geysers and other features emerge constantly. Yellowstone Park also contains fossil forests, a volcanic-glass mountain and dozens of spectacular waterfalls.
The breathtaking scenery and the possibilities of unforgettable wildlife encounters (moose, elk, trout, bears, wolves) make this a must-see area. Hike one of the many trails to an isolated waterfall or geyser and enjoy the wildflowers, landscape features and wildlife along the way.
Even with so much to see, Yellowstone has problems of overcrowding in such major spots as Old Faithful, Fishing Bridge and Mammoth. Most visitors never stray far from the road, however, so going for a hike is a great way to leave the crowds behind. Another option is to plan your travel for an off time or a "shoulder" season. Many visitors find a trip in late spring or early fall gives them a great Yellowstone experience without the crowds.
Adventurous travelers visit in winter, when access is limited and most travel is by skis, snowmobile or snowcoach. Consider spending a few days at one end of the park and a few at the opposite end. This will reduce your point-to-point driving time, leaving you more time for sightseeing, hiking and soaking up the scenery.
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