Yellowstone National Park

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, copyright QT Luong, www.terragalleria.com/parks

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No more iconic park exists in the world than Yellowstone National Park, thanks to its role in launching the national parks movement, its incredible geothermal features, beautiful scenery, and rich fount of wildlife.

Yellowstone is a precious, beautiful preserve of nature, one that constantly delights and challenges visitors to learn more about the natural world. Whether you come in search of the world's greatest collection of geothermal features, to glimpse wolf, bear, moose or bison, for long hikes into the wilderness or to camp along rivers or lakes, Yellowstone will bring you to the end of your search.

Anchoring the northwestern corner of Wyoming, and lapping over a bit into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is a portrait of wild America. Within its 2.2 million acres you roam a landscape that contains the full assemblage of wildlife that John Colter might have encountered when he wandered across this landscape in late 1807 and early 1808.

Within this landscape is the world's greatest collection of geothermal displays, with more than 10,000 geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. There are thick lodgepole pine forests, aspen glades, and vast rolling meadows. Mountains rise more than 11,000 feet above sea level, while the canyon cut by the Yellowstone River plunges more than 1,000 feet.

Visitors today don't face the same hardships John Colter did in exploring the park. There are ample lodging and dining facilities in Yellowstone, a minimal, but efficient, road network ready to carry you to the major attractions, and campsites that don't need to be hacked out of the wilderness.

And yet, if you're seeking a wilderness experience, that can be had to, as most of the park is managed for its wild nature.

Traveler's Choice For: Geology, hiking, backpacking, paddling, families, wildlife, photography

Park History: Yellowstone National Park

Noteworthy as the world's first national park, Yellowstone's modern history extends back to the early 19th century, when mountain men John Colter and Jim Bridger found themselves in a landscape that conjured descriptions of hell and brimstone.

Yellowstone Park Trivia

Here, thanks to the Yellowstone staff, is a compilation of fun facts and trivia surrounding the park, from the record low temperature of -66 degrees Fahrenheit to more than 15 miles of boardwalks!

Negotiating Yellowstone

Yellowstone can easily be divided into five geographic regions. Mammoth Country covers the northwestern corner of the park, Roosevelt Country sprawls across the northeastern corner, Canyon Country is just south of Roosevelt Country and takes in the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Lake Country covers the southeastern portion of the park, and Geyser Country lies near the park's southwestern corner.

Lodging in Yellowstone National Park

Lodging in Yellowstone runs the gamut. You can rough it in a plank-built cabin with a woodstove for warmth, or go all out for a presidential suite.

Camping in Yellowstone

Many will argue that it doesn't get any better than camping in a national park. In Yellowstone, your choices are great, with a dozen campgrounds and hundreds of backcountry sites.

Hiking In Yellowstone

From front-country boardwalks that wind through geyser basins to backcountry trails that can take more than a week to traverse, Yellowstone is a hiker's dream.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Yellowstone National Park is relatively remote, especially when you leave the "villages" scattered about the park. As a result, you might not find a cell or Wi-Fi signal on your travels.

Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone has been described as North America's Serengeti for its rich wildlife resources. And with wolves, bison, bears, elk, moose, mountain lions, Canada lynx and more, it's easy to understand how that tag became attached to the park. For families, there's no better place to indulge in a game or three of wildlife bingo.

Paddling in Yellowstone

Though most backcountry travelers come to Yellowstone to hike, paddling is another excellent way to head into a wilderness setting and find solitude and beauty.

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in Yellowstone National Park

While many head to Yellowstone National Park in winter to explore by snowmobile, many visitors also like to get out on foot -- either with snowshoes or cross-country skis -- to move about the park.

Here's the rundown on how to safely enjoy those activities in the park this winter. The following information comes from Yellowstone Today, the park's official newspaper.

Spring Bicycling In Yellowstone

If you're looking for an incredible springtime bike ride in the national parks, head to Yellowstone National Park, where you can pedal between West Yellowstone, Montana, and Mammoth Hot Springs in April without sharing the road with private vehicles.

Yellowstone's Geology

Within Yellowstone's borders are vast lakes, raging rivers, and mountains seemingly made out of glass. What created this intriguing and varied landscape? Fire and ice. Fire in the form of molten rock that today fuels the park's geothermal basement, and ice in the form of incredibly thick and massive glaciers that once covered the region.

Traveler's Checklist For Yellowstone

What can you do during a visit to Yellowstone? Answering that can run the gamut from watching Old Faithful to learning about Thomas Moran, but to give you a head-start here are 10 items that should be on your "to-do" list when you visit the park.

Yellowstone's "Creation" Myth

One of the more enduring stories about America's national park movement is that it was spawned in the early fall of 1870 during talk around a campfire deep in the heart of today's Yellowstone National Park. But did it?

Resources For Visiting Yellowstone

This is where you can find websites, helpful phone numbers, friends groups and cooperating associations, and, sometimes, books related to the park.

West Yellowstone: A Gateway Town Worth Hanging Around

Of Yellowstone's five gateway towns, West Yellowstone is my favorite. It's the closest to the park, as Yellowstone's West Entrance is at the end of Yellowstone Avenue, and it has this wonderfully funky vibe flowing through it.

Some Side Trips To Consider

If you've got some extra time during your trip to Yellowstone, here are some interesting side trips you might want to consider.

Yellowstone National Park News

Federal Land Managers Agree To Collaborate On National Wilderness Preservation System

A unified approach to managing the country's wilderness areas has been agreed to by the land management agencies under the Interior and Agriculture departments, with goals of connecting more people to wilderness areas and completing wilderness inventories of lands that might be suitable for inclusion in the wilderness system.

Help Out Friends Of Saguaro By Bidding In Their On-Line Auction

Think it'd be nice to spend some time relaxing this winter in Death Valley, or maybe in Sedona, or perhaps in Wyoming right outside Yellowstone National Park? Those destinations could be on your calendar if you're the winning bidder in a fund-raising auction for Friends of Saguaro National Park.

Op-Ed|The National Park Service And Wilderness: 50 Years Of Neglect

After 50 years, you would expect that the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), which administers the largest inventory of wilderness in the world, would have the best wilderness management program in the world. But, you would be very wrong.

Yellowstone National Park Images