Yellowstone National Park

Nature Trails
Roosevelt elk in Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt elk in Yellowstone National Park (Corbis)

Yellowstone has seven self-guiding trails, each with its own 25 cent trail guide which will help you explore the park's features on foot. The guides are sold in visitor centers and are available at trailheads. Thermal basins lack shade in most places and can be very hot on sunny summer days; take along a hat and sunglasses if you plan to walk the trails in these areas. Stay on trails and boardwalks; watch your step in thermal basins and along steep drop-offs.

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
Surreal in appearance, travertine terraces such as these are not found anywhere else in the park. As an early visitor described them: ". . .The hot springs fall over a lofty hill of snowy whiteness, resembling cascades." A walking trail through the Lower Terraces and a one-way drive through the Upper Terraces offer views of these fascinating formations.

Upper Geyser Basin
The world's greatest collection of geysers is located here, including Old Faithful Geyser. Several miles of trail begin at the Old Faithful Visitor Center; stop in for orientation and geyser eruption information.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Canyon and the Upper and Lower Falls can be seen from overlooks along the rim drives. The North Rim Drive takes you to Inspiration, Grandview, and Lookout Points. A spur road leads to an overlook at the brink of the Upper Falls. The South Rim Drive leads to Uncle Tom's Trail and Artist Point. Trails also wind along both rims.

Norris Geyser Basin
Explore the hottest, most active thermal basin in the park. Trails start at the museum and lead to colorful hot springs and a number of active geysers.

Fountain Paint Pot
Located eight miles north of Old Faithful on the road to Madison Junction. Active, ever-changing mud pots make this area unique, as does the variety of thermal activity and color.

Mud Volcano
Located approximately six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction (approximately 10 miles south of Canyon Junction). Intriguing and explosive mudpots such as the Mud Volcano and the Dragon's Mouth have captured the imagination of park visitors through the years.

West Thumb Geyser Basin
Situated on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, boiling springs meet icy lake water. View West Thumb Bay, a volcanic explosion crater (or caldera).

Also see Yellowstone Hiking Trails for information on longer hikes.


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