Yellowstone national park is a wonderful place to go on vacation. Old Faithful and the majority of the world’s geysers are preserved at Yellowstone. They are the main reason the park was established in 1872 as America’s first national park-an idea that spread worldwide. A mountain wildland, home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, the park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.
Yellowstone ranks among the most popular national parks in the United States. Few places on earth offer so much scenic and scientific interest in one area. Yellowstone is in the heart of the Rockies, a land of pine-clad mountains and broad, grassy valleys. The countryside is laced with lakes and streams of exquisite beauty.
The popular West Entrance to Yellowstone parallels the winding Madison River, a route followed by the earliest pioneers into the park. It leads to the Grand Loop Road that will take you to all of the park’s major features.
In addition to superb mountain scenery, the park is one of the world’s principle wildlife preserves. Many visitors eagerly await the opportunity to photograph wildlife in its native environment. Yellowstone is a photographer’s paradise.
Traveling south on the Grand Loop Road towards Old Faithful, a side road leads to Firehole River Cascades. Here water pours through an 800 foot canyon, climaxing at roaring Firehole Falls.
The Firehole River is our introduction to the most famous and certainly the most popular section in all of Yellowstone. Our route takes us through a series of thermal basins, beginning with the Lower Geyser Basin. The road brings us close to the popular Fountain Paint Pot, pools of colorful, hot mud that bubble and sputter like pudding boiling in a pan. The mud is a mixture of silica, clay and water.
Bubbles are formed by super-heated gases rising from magma and molten rock deep within the earth. A stroll around Fountain Paint Pots revels a variety of small geyser, pools and springs. Midway, Biscuit and Black Sand basins lie adjacent to each other with the Firehole River serving as a common boundary. Runoff from many of the geysers in these basins drains into the nearby river. Each year Excelsior Geyser alone pours an incredible 5 million gallons of scalding water into the river.
At Midway Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring is the most spectacular feature. From above, its splendid array of deep colors is stunningly visible. At 370 feet in diameter, it is believed to be the largest spring in Yellowstone. Clearly marked boardwalks and paved trails offer visitors a safe and exciting means of exploring the thermal features of Midway Basin.
In the Black Sand Geyser Basin, Cliff Geyser is interesting because it sits of the edge of Iron Spring Creek. Its eruptions can go as high as 50 feet.
Rainbow Pool is a large hot spring with an intensely blue center. The water at the pool’s edge is cooled sufficiently to permit the growth of algae, producing a rainbow of colors. Nearby Sunset lake vies with Rainbow Pool for beauty and iridescent color.
To many visitors, the Upper Basin, the Old Faithful area, is the heart and sole of Yellowstone Park. Unique Old Faithful Inn is one of America’s finest lodges. Today, its immense rustic lobby and huge stone fireplace yet posses the grandeur of earlier times.
No visit to Yellowstone is complete without witnessing one or more eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser. This iconic geyser is the most famous in the world and is one of America’s greatest natural wonders.There are geysers that erupt higher and for longer periods of time, but rarely is the tremendous power of nature so inseparably combined with Old Faithful’s innate beauty. This superb spectacle, once you’ve actually witnessed it in person, will stay in your memory forever.
Since the mid-1960s, at least 2 million tourists have visited the park almost every year. In 2010, a record number of visitors came to the park in July: 975,000. July is the busiest month for Yellowstone National Park. At peak summer levels, 3,700 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessionaires. Concessionaires manage nine hotels and lodges, with a total of 2,238 hotel rooms and cabins available. They also oversee gas stations, stores and most of the campgrounds. Another 800 employees work either permanently or seasonally for the National Park Service.
Park service roads lead to major features; however, road reconstruction has produced temporary road closures. Yellowstone is in the midst of a long term road reconstruction effort, which is hampered by a short repair season. In the winter, all roads aside from the one which enters from Gardiner, Montana, and extends to Cooke City, Montana, are closed to wheeled vehicles. Park roads are closed to wheeled vehicles from early November to mid April, but some park roads remain closed until mid-May. The park has 310 miles (500 km) of paved roads which can be accessed from five different entrances.
There is no public transportation available inside the park, but several tour companies can be contacted for guided motorized transport. In the winter, concessionaires operate guided snowmobile and snow coach tours, though their numbers and access are based on quotas established by the National Park Service. Facilities in the Old Faithful, Canyon and Mammoth Hot Springs areas of the park are very busy during the summer months. Traffic jams created by road construction or by people observing wildlife can result in long delays.