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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Yellowstone, with all of its world renowned natural features and spectacular landscapes, entices many people to visit and experience its wonders. However, as one of the top ten largest National Parks in the United States, it can be too massive to explore in its entirety on one trip. Its awe inspiring features are widely dispersed throughout the park, and the animals often try to avoid human interaction. To make the most of a visit, it’s a good idea to plan out a route ahead of time so as not to get lost among the mountains and miss out on what you really want to see. Here are a few locations to keep in mind while planning a trip to Yellowstone!


Hayden Valley

One of the main reasons that people go to Yellowstone is to experience the native wildlife. A species that is one of the largest draws to the park and one of its largest inhabitants is the American bison. While buffalo roam all throughout the park, it is still possible to spend an afternoon in Yellowstone and never see a single bison. Traveling to Hayden Valley is the best probability of seeing not only solitary bison, but massive herds.


Mammoth Hot Springs

Another large example of wildlife that can be found within the park is elk. They are a bit harder to see amidst the forests that can be found in Yellowstone, and as such can be missed while driving around. However, elk always seem to be found around the Mammoth Hot Springs area. There is cultivated grass in this area that the elk really like to munch on, and their protected status in the park makes them fairly calm with cars driving by (please, don’t approach any of the animals in general, though, because they will quickly stop being calm). The springs themselves are also impressive and interesting structures, and are worth a visit!


Lamar Valley

The predators of Yellowstone, including bear, are often difficult to spot, and as such are even more exciting to find. It is entirely possible to happen upon a large predator anywhere while driving throughout the park, but for the most part you’ll increase your chances of seeing one by going to specific locations. Hayden Valley contains more animals than just bison, but the Lamar Valley hides a special group: the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. Wolves are very careful in their attempts to avoid people so it is still hard to spot them in this location, but visiting the Lamar Valley increases the possibility.


Old Faithful

Of course, while the animals are exciting to see, the greatest draw to Yellowstone is definitely the large assortment of hydrothermal features to be found in the park. The large collection of geysers is world famous and include the world’s tallest active geyser, Steamboat. The most famous geyser at Yellowstone, however, would have to be Old Faithful. In accordance with its name, this geyser goes off about every 90 minutes or so, unlike most geysers whose eruptions are unpredictable. As such it is a must see upon visiting.


Dragon’s Mouth Spring

This particular hot spring may not be as exciting as a geyser, but it still attracts attention all the same. Dragon’s Mouth gets its name from the fact that the hot spring starts in a deep cave. The steam that can be seen spouting from the entrance can easily be imagined as dragon smoke, while the boiling water inside the cave contributes to the impression by creating animalistic noises within. It’s always a fun feature that can leave a lasting impression.


Mud Pots

If you are looking for a more sedate example of the activity present in Yellowstone, look no further than the mud pots! Often overlooked and lacking the splendor of geysers (they are, admittedly, bubbling mud puddles), there’s still something mesmerizing just watching the bubbles form and burst. They also often have few tourists, so if you are looking to get away from people for a bit, check them out! Just make sure your nose is sufficiently used-to sulfur by this point, as they do have a strong aroma.


Grand Prismatic Spring

It’s hard to search Yellowstone on the internet without running into images of this hot spring, and for good reason. The Grand Prismatic Spring is a much different hot spring than Dragon’s Mouth, but just as memorable and more visibly striking. Featuring almost unbelievable colors and a massive size, this spring deserves all the attention focused on it.


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

This canyon is definitely not as large as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. However, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has still impressed many throughout history, including artists and photographers alike. The Lower Falls waterfall is a beautiful site, and many hiking trails are available to traverse if you are so inclined. Interestingly enough, the yellow rocks that make up the walls of the canyon are not the reason why the area is called Yellowstone, but they create a spectacular view all the same!

A visit to Yellowstone can be a once in a lifetime experience, as long as you don’t get lost in the crowds. There are multitudes of things to see and experience in the park, so get out and enjoy!

Pictures: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor