Yellowstone National Park >>>
Near Livingston, Montana
Livingston was the original gateway to Yellowstone. The scenic 50 mile drive to the north entrance meanders through Paradise Valley, along the Yellowstone River. Yellowstone is America’s first national park, and grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk all call it home. You’ll see the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Five miles from the northern entrance is Mammoth Hot Springs, a primary attraction. Find a Visitors Center, walking paths through the famous springs, and most likely, the resident elk herd. Mammoth starts the northern loop of the Park, a great day trip, and includes Tower Falls, Canyon, Hayden Valley, Mt. Washburn and Norris.
From National Park Service website, northern loop highlights:
Mammoth Hot Springs are the main attraction of the Mammoth District. These features are quite different from thermal areas elsewhere in the park. Travertine formations grow much more rapidly than sinter formations due to the softer nature of limestone. As hot water rises through limestone, large quantities of rock are dissolved by the hot water, and a white chalky mineral is deposited on the surface. More on Mammoth.
Tower Falls is the most recognizable natural feature in the district. The 132-foot drop of Tower Creek, framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles has been documented by park visitors from the earliest trips of Europeans into the Yellowstone region. Its idyllic setting has inspired numerous artists, including Thomas Moran. His painting of Tower Fall played a crucial role in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The nearby Bannock Ford on the Yellowstone River was an important travel route for early Native Americans as well as for early European visitors and miners up to the late 19th century. More on Tower.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the primary geologic feature in the Canyon District. It is roughly 20 miles long. The present canyon is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old, although there has probably been a canyon in this location for a much longer period. The geologic story, its historical significance as a barrier to travel, its significance as destination, and its appearance in Native American lore and in the accounts of early explorers are all important points. The “ooh-ahh” factor is also important: its beauty and grandeur, and the development of the national park idea. More on Canyon.
Hayden Valley is one of the best places in the park to view a wide variety of wildlife. It is an excellent place to look for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring and early summer when they may be preying upon newborn bison and elk calves. Large herds of bison may be viewed in the spring, early summer, and during the fall rut, which usually begins late July to early August. Coyotes can almost always be seen in the valley.
Mt. Washburn is the main peak in the Washburn Range, rising 10,243 ft. above the west side of the canyon. It is the remnant of volcanic activity that took place long before the formation of the present canyon. It is an excellent example of subalpine habitat and is very accessible to the average visitor. Bighorn sheep and an abundance of wildflowers can be found on its slopes in the summer. Mt. Washburn was named for Gen. Henry Dana Washburn, leader of the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition.
Norris is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. The highest temperature yet recorded in Yellowstone was measured in a scientific drill hole at Norris: 459°F just 1,087 feet below the surface! There are very few thermal features at Norris under the boiling point. Norris shows evidence of having had thermal features for at least 115,000 years. The features in the basin change daily, with frequent disturbances from seismic activity and water fluctuations. The majority of the waters at Norris are acidic, including acid geysers which are very rare. Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world (300 to 400 feet) and Echinus Geyser are the most popular. More on Norris.
The southern loop of Yellowstone includes Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful, Fishing Bridge, and more. Please find more information about these highlights here.
For a closer look at Yellowstone, get a private tour with Yellowstone Guidlines