For those who are short on time but still want the vivid memory of spewing geysers and scenic overlooks, the following are recommended sites for capturing the most Yellowstone has to offer to the drive-by tourist.
Geysers, Mud Pots, and Hot Springs
Home to more geothermal phenomena than anywhere else in the world, Yellowstone boasts geysers, mud pots, and hot springs throughout the entirety of its terrain. These thermal wonders come in every color of the rainbow, with some bursting hundreds of feet into the air as others fizzle and pop close to the Earth’s surface. A constant reminder of Yellowstone’s volcanic history, these features are often associated with Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. However, other thermal features include the West Thumb Geyer Basin, Mud Volcano, Midway Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot, and the Norris Geyser Basin. Popular opinion declares Echinus Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin one of the best thermal displays for its lively variety of activity. The Riverside Geyser near the Firehole River is also popular, shooting seventy-five foot tall arches of water across the river.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of the most famous park areas, with spectacular waterfalls and scenery around every roadside bend. Visitors to the Grand Canyon and surrounding Canyon Village will find the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Tower Falls, Calcite Springs, and several scenic overlooks on the North and South Rim roads.
Yellowstone’s landscape is dotted with peaks, and famous mountain ranges surround the park’s borders. The best mountain vistas are found on the road leading from Tower Junction to Canyon Village. Passing over the park’s highest road at Dunraven Pass (8,600 feet), drivers on this highway are rewarded with views of the Teton Range to the south, the Yellowstone Caldera, and the Absaroka Mountains.
Natural Water Features
In addition to hosting boiling and roiling hot water features, Yellowstone is home to several famous rivers, streams, and lakes. Wildlife swarm to river banks in search of a fresh fish feast, and Yellowstone Lake is one of North America’s great wonders. Measuring twenty miles long, fourteen miles wide, and more than 300 feet deep in most places, Yellowstone Lake is the continent’s largest high-altitude body of water. Underneath the lake, a caldera formed from an ancient sunken lake is gradually filling with hot magma and tipping the lake in a northerly direction. Experts warn that a new volcanic blast is due sometime within the next 100,000 years. In the meantime, the lake is a popular destination for wildlife viewing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
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