Open4Fun’s director, Bevon Versveld, shares a handful of his favorite attractions in Yellowstone National Park:
Old Faithful Geyser
Old faithful was named after the predictability of its eruptions. The famous geyser erupts up 20 times a day, shooting up to 8400 gallons 140 feet into the air. As the eruptions can be predicted with a 90% accuracy, you can plan a busy day of park exploring and arrive on schedule just in time to view an Old Faithful eruption. The geyser is easily accessible with a nearby parking lot, bench seating for viewings and a ranger station tracking and predicting eruptions.
Tip: visit Old Faithful after 12:00 when most of the tour buses have already left the park.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most photographed features in YellowstoneNational Park. It is the third largest spring in the world, wider than a football field and deeper than a ten story building. Different species of heat-loving bacteria live in the waters of the spring, creating a rainbow effect of bright bands of orange, yellow, green and blue waters.
Tip: leave your drone behind. Drones have been banned from Yellowstone National Park and offenders may be charged with hefty fines and park bans.
While much of Yellowstone National Park is forested, Lamar Valley stands out for its wide open spaces which offer fantastic game viewing. Known as the Serengeti of America this river valley, picturesquely surrounded by snow-capped peaks, is home to herds of elk, bison,grizzlies, coyotes, bald eagles, pronghorn and most famously the Junction Butte and Lamar Canyon wolf packs.
Tip: Pack binoculars to see far away animals better. Look for groups of people pulled over at the side of the road, as they will often have spotted a wolf or other large animal.
This immense canyon, 4 000 feet wide, 20 miles long and 1 200 feet deep, is flanked on all sides by pastel-coloured rocks in hues of pink and yellow. The area is also known for its giant waterfalls, hot springs, steam vents and sightings of ospreys ridge soaring next to the cliffs.
The canyon is easily accessible by car offering three scenic drives. North Rim Drive takes you to four magnificent view points over the canyon, each featuring a different aspect of its power, color and geology, including views of Lower Falls and Inspiration Point. There is also a scenic Spur Road which leads to the brink of Upper Falls and the South Rim Drive offers views of Upper Falls at Uncle Tom’s point and of Lower Falls at Artist’s Point
Tip: This is one of the best places in America to see the famous birds of prey, known as the osprey. Look carefully among the rock pinnacles for flashes of wings or thick piles of sticks indicating a nest. Six to ten osprey nests are usually occupied in this area of the park.
Where to stay?
Bevan recommends old Faithful Inn. Ideally located within view of the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser, this lodge offers many highlights and advantages you won’t find anywhere else. The original Inn dates back to 1904. It is an icon of National Park rustic architecture, sometimes referred to as parkitecture, and is also a national historic landmark. The 76 foot high lobby features a massive stone fireplace and handcrafted clock. Get the first glimpse of old Faithful as it erupts for the day by walking just steps outside of the inn.