Yellowstone National Park

Park Tours
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Black Dragon's Cauldron, Yellowstone National Park
Black Dragon's Cauldron, Yellowstone National Park (J. Schmidt/courtesy, Wiki)

Whether you want to tour Yellowstone alone or with a ranger, you need some guidance before setting out:

Ranger-led Activities in Yellowstone

If you think that "ranger-led activity" only means viewing a slideshow of park plants and animals, think again! A variety of activities and programs led by ranger-naturalists are offered throughout the summer in Yellowstone. Activities vary from short talks and demonstrations at visitor centers to walks and hikes. These programs are offered primarily in June, July, and August. Watch for roving rangers throughout the park. Some activities are handicapped accessible.

Program schedules change daily and weekly and for this reason published schedules are not available in advance. To find out what is happening during your visit, check visitor center and campground bulletin boards for program information. If you are planning a spring or fall visit to Yellowstone, take advantage of information available at visitor centers or self-guiding nature trails, outlined below.

Self-Guiding Nature Trails in Yellowstone

Yellowstone has seven self-guiding trails, each with its own 25-cent trail guide that 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 ten miles south of Canyon Junction). Intriguing and explosive mudpots such as Mud Volcano and 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).

Park Museums

Want to get in from the elements? Here are more great park offerings:

Albright Visitor Center: Mammoth Hot Springs: Open year-round. Information, exhibits on the park's natural and human history, movie, publications.

Old Faithful Visitor Center: Open mid-April to October 31; mid-December to mid-March. Information, publications, geyser eruption predictions. A movie is shown throughout the day.

Canyon Visitor Center: Open late May through September. Information, publications, movie, "Imagine Yellowstone" young people's art exhibit.

Fishing Bridge Visitor Center: Open late May to early September. Information, publications, exhibits of birds and wildlife.

Grant Village Visitor Center: Open late May through September. Information, publications, movie, "Yellowstone and Fire" exhibit.

Norris Geyser Basin Museum: Open mid-May through September. Information, publications, exhibits on thermal features.

Museum of the National Park Ranger: Norris. Open mid-May through September. Exhibits at this historic soldier station trace the development of the park ranger profession.

Madison Museum: Home of the Madison Museum Arts Center. Artists-in-Residence present programs and produce artworks during the summer months.


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