What to See in Yellowstone: 5 of the Most Impressive Spots in the Park

What to see in Yellowstone - 5 Must-See Stops

If you’re wondering what to see in Yellowstone, these are the top 5 spots you can’t miss in the national park.

One of my favorite trips from this year was to Yellowstone National Park. I knew it would be impressive, it is the oldest national park in the world after all, but I was even more taken aback by its beauty once I saw it in person.

There is a lot of variety in the park, from geothermal attractions, to vast amounts of wildlife, deep canyons, waterfalls, and everything in between. I also didn’t realize just how big of a park it would be, sometimes taking me over 2 hours to get to the other side of Yellowstone. The park itself is mainly in Wyoming but also covers parts of Idaho and Montana, to give you an idea of its size.

This was especially the case when people would constantly stop in their cars and block the road for 15 minutes to take pictures of wildlife or the scenery. I’ve never been to a park where this happened as much as it did in Yellowstone, you just have to wait it out and be patient.

Because Yellowstone is such a large and popular national park, especially as a summer destination in the US, I put together a little list of the stops I recommend hitting.

I managed to see all of these attractions in two days, but I unfortunately felt rushed during my stay. To truly appreciate what Yellowstone has to offer, give yourself a minimum three days of exploration. These are my picks for what to see in Yellowstone!

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips. 

What to See in Yellowstone: 5 Must-See Stops

Old Faithful

Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park - Upper Geyser Basin

The #1 attraction that I always say when recommending what to see in Yellowstone – Old Faithful.

The most famous attraction in the park, Old Faithful is a geyser that is known around the world. It’s the perfect attraction to start with, not only for its voracity but also because of how much of an icon it has become to the park and the many wonders to find here.

The name “Old Faithful” comes from the fact that the geyser is so reliable with its eruptions, erupting every 45 to 90 minutes at over 100 feet. The temperature of the water is close to 200 degrees fahrenheit.  It is by far one of the more impressive and energetic geysers in the park.

Related: 5 Incredible Experiences to Have at Mt Rainier National Park

The Grotto Geyser at the Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

There are walkways near the viewing of Old Faithful that will take you along the many other geysers and hot springs that are in the area.

This part of the park alone, called the Upper Geyser Basin, has the highest concentration of geysers in the world – almost 1/4 of the geysers in the world are found here.

Midway Geyser Basin

Midway Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

Just north of Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin you’ll find the Midway Geyser Basin, full of the most colorful hot springs in the park. I actually enjoyed walking around this basin more since it was slightly less crowded and the vibrant colors mixed in with the steam were mesmerizing.

My favorite of the hot springs here was the Grand Prismatic Spring. I could barely tear myself away it was beautiful simply sitting there trying to pick out the reflective colors in the mist.

What to see in Yellowstone? Midway Geyser Basin is one of my favorite spots in the park

This stop is not a long one. It’s simply a boardwalk that you can stroll along and walk around the few hot springs and geysers. Just make sure to hold on to your hat, I saw many that had flown off and were sadly laying in the middle of the springs.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

If you want to get even more of a taste of the history at Yellowstone, the Mammoth Hot Springs area in the Northwest corner of the park is a required stop.

The north of the park in general seems slightly less populated, and there were groups of elk just hanging out next to the visitor center as I drove past. This is one of the oldest areas of the park, with some of the first buildings that were ever constructed at Yellowstone, so for history buffs alone it’s well worth a visit.

Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

These northern geothermal wonders of the park have a different feel to them than the southern ones do. They somehow seem older, more layered, and can change their look drastically even in the course of a day.  Terrace Mountain in the Mammoth Hot Springs area is the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world. You may have seen the popular Minerva Terrace in National Geographic before, for its colorful and ornate travertine formations that are ever changing.

Related: Hiking Haleakala National Park in Maui

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - National Park - USA Travel

Perhaps my favorite areas to hike in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was one of those sights that my brain couldn’t quite process. This is another spot to add to the list when you’re planning what to see in Yellowstone.

It was so grand and magnificent. For some reason I didn’t realize that there were even waterfalls at Yellowstone until I arrived and saw something called the Grand Canyon, with an epic image of a huge waterfall cascading down a steep cliff edge. I knew I had to go immediately.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - National Park - USA Travel

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - National Park - USA Travel

This was by far the most picturesque area of the park and there were plenty of short hikes to get different views and angles of the canyon.

The canyon itself goes up to 4,000 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep. It’s 20 miles long and the Lower Falls cascade down a steep 308 foot drop.

It’s truly a sight to behold and to spend a decent amount of time taking it in for yourself. And if the canyon and waterfall weren’t stunning enough, the canyon walls are stained in pastel pink, yellow, and orange hues from the natural minerals as well.

Related: Postcard from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

Lastly, a stop in Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without venturing to the little visited Northeast corner of the park. This is the spot where the least amount of tourists will be found and therefore where you may see the most wildlife.

If you have the time, you shouldn’t miss this area when planning what to see in Yellowstone.

There are hoards of bison that roam the fields in the northeast, and it’s also the best chance you’ll have at seeing the scarce gray wolves that call Lamar Valley home.

Make sure to explore the valley at dawn if you want to see the wolves, that’s when they’re said to most likely be seen.

Lamar Valley - Yellowstone National Park - USA Travel

You’ll most likely see some sort of wildlife during your visit to Yellowstone, there’s no doubt about that, but if you want to experience it away from people and to see the rarer species in the park, this is the place to do it.

It’s also the perfect spot to go on more off-the-beaten-path hikes. It’s that little slice of peace and quiet in one of the busiest parks in America.

And as a side note, if you’re thinking of visiting more than one national park this year, the US National Parks Pass can be a great option. 

Related: My First Visit to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills

Have you been to Yellowstone National Park before? What are your favorite national parks in America? Do you have a better idea of what to see in Yellowstone now?

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Looking for more outdoor travel inspiration in the US? Check out these related posts below!

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5 Must-See Stops in Yellowstone National Park | Adventure Travel | USA

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Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
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40 comments

  1. This place is on my bucket list. Unfortunately, I live on the other edge of the world, but I don’t give up… once I’ll be there and visit these amazing park.

  2. It’s been a while since we visited Yellowstone, but I can remember how amazing it was! Great post pointing out some of the must sees! Great pics – thank you!

    1. It was even more amazing than I thought it would be and I already knew I would be impressed. Truly a one-of-a-kind place in the US, thanks for reading Chrissy!

  3. Amazing photos! Yellowstone is on my bucket list. I’m from the UK so it will be a major trip for me and probably won’t happen till the kids have flown the nest. Oh well, photos like this will have to do for now.

  4. This looks amazing! I would love to see Lamar Valley, and the hot springs. I’ve seen the AZ Grand Canyon but I haven’t gotten to see much more of the west. Great pics!

    1. The Lamar Valley had such a different feel than the rest of the park, and I loved how there was even more wildlife to discover out there. There are so many great spots in the west, hope you make it out here again soon, Amanda.

  5. Amazing pictures!!! It all looks so beautiful.

    Yellowstone is on my bucket list- it got cancelled this summer, maybe next year I’d be able to go.

    β€” DT

  6. This is so gorgeous! I’ve been dying to visit Yellowstone. My husband and I plan to go when we do our next cross-country road trip in a year or two. I’m so excited for it!

    xo, Keating | Mimosas and Manicures

  7. This place is truly amazing! Your photos show so well the mind blowing sites in the park. Yellowstone rocks! You covered a lot in two days. I am assuming you woke up early and had long days.

  8. I’ve been to Yellowstone a couple of times and I just love it. There is so much to see and so much beauty. Mammoth Hot Springs was one of my favorite parts of the park! It’s surreal. The one spot I missed was the Grand Prismatic Spring because it was so crowded, I just passed it up. I’ll definitely go back some day though and see anything I’ve missed out on. #FlyAwayFriday

    1. Mammoth Hot Springs was surreal! It’s such a cool experience to finally see all these spots that National Geographic wrote up when we were kids. I must’ve lucked out when I visited the Grand Prismatic Spring because there was hardly anyone there, I think it was after most of the tourists had left the park for the day, just before the sun went down. πŸ™‚

  9. Growing up in Scotland has encouraged my love for parks! But this is a whole different playing field! Looks incredible and your pictures are beautiful xx

  10. Great photos in here! I love Yellowstone so much. I will always click on a Yellowstone post to just go back to one of my favorite trips. Your tips are spot on! πŸ™‚ #flyawayfriday

  11. I went to Yellowstone a few times as a kid and once or twice in college but it’s been awhile. I love it there. It’s so beautiful and there is so much to explore.

  12. Great list, Mimi! I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited, and I’m with you on seeing the less popular areas. The Geysers are must-see attractions, but the real beauty of the park is along the river and waterfalls, and wide open spaces. Great photos, too – they make me want to go again! #FlyawayFriday

    1. Thanks Rob & Ann! I loved Yellowstone, especially the more off-the-beaten path areas – I feel like no matter how many times you visit, there is always more to see in the park. It’s huge!

  13. Love your photos! I’ve been wanting to go to Yellowstone for a while now, but haven’t made it out there yet, hopefully in the next year though, and I love the areas that aren’t super populated with tourist, you get to be a little closer to nature that way I think.

    1. Thanks Natalie! Yeah I wish more people would get out of their cars and explore the wonderful nature in Yellowstone. You can definitely see a lot from the car as well, but it’s just not the same experience. Hope you get to visit soon!

  14. Simply stunning! These landscapes look out of this world! Will definitely visit Yellowstone one day, looks like a great place to explore! #FlyAwayFriday

  15. Hi Mimi! Thanks for sharing this post. I’m still wondering which National Park I should visit next. I’ve already been to Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon and Death Valley and I thought about Bryce Canyon and Yellowstone for next year. Your photos are amazing and it seems that there are a lot of stunning places in Yellowstone NP! I will definitely keep your post in mind when I make my decision!! xoxo Claudi

    1. That’s great that you’ve been making it to so many national parks, Claudi. There are so many great ones in this country. I’ve heard wonderful things about Bryce Canyon as well, although I haven’t made it there myself as of yet. I loved Yellowstone so much partly because it is such a historic park – it’s the oldest national park in the world! And it’s also incredibly versatile, hopefully you’ll get to see it on your next trip!

  16. Holy moly this looks incredible! I’ve never been to Yellowstone and hopefully will go sometime soon. Will definitely check out these 5 spots whenever we make it up there. Thank you for sharing on FlyAwayFriday and can’t wait to see what you share next!

  17. I’m going to Yellowstone next spring so I’m really glad you shared this! It looks so beautiful and I can’t wait to visit. I pinned your image on the Fly Away Friday Pinterest Board! I can’t remember for the life of me but if you’re not a contributor on there, send me a nudge on Pinterest and I’ll add you as an admin! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday!

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