Known fondly as “America’s best idea” and its first National Park, Yellowstone is Mother Nature’s theme park and a haven for photographers with its magnificent mountain scenery, diverse wildlife and hydrothermal wonders. This guide offers over 120 of the most photographic spots more than 200 images by author pro Lewis Kemper to inspire your trip.
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If you could see only one part of Yellowstone, I would recommend the Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful and 150 geysers and hundreds of hot springs in the one square mile basin. Other thermal features that I highly recommend are Midway Geyser Basin with Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest pool in the park, West Thumb Geyser Basin for its location on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin for its sheer size, and Mammoth Hot Springs for the amazing travertine formations. No visit to the park would be complete without a stop to see some waterfalls. Most notable would be Lower Yellowstone Falls witnessed from Artist Point. The fanciful Tower Fall, nestled among the rock spires, is also worth a stop. Experience the abundant wildlife the park has to offer with a drive through both Hayden and Lamar Valleys. See herds of elk and bison, be on the lookout for wolves and experience the animals of the park.
Less than 10% of the park is accessible by the 370 miles of paved roads, but fortunately the best features are accessible. Yellowstone’s road system resembles a figure 8 with spurs leading off to the main entrances. The entrances are from the South via Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming; from the west at West Yellowstone, Montana; from the north via Gardiner, Montana; from the northeast via Cook City, Montana; and the east via Cody, Wyoming. Although Yellowstone National Park is open year round, most of the roads are only accessible by car from late spring to late autumn. The exception to this would be the road from the North Entrance at Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, this stretch of the road is open year round weather permitting. In winter you can access the park via snow coach or snow mobile. Traveling around the figure 8 is the Grand Loop Road with access to most of the park’s prominent features. There are many turnouts and parking areas located off the Grand Loop at the park’s top attractions. Most of the well-known features can be reached via short walks from these parking areas. Most are easy walks, many ADA accessible, without much elevation gain. The exception would be for some of the trails in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There are more than 900 miles of trails within the park. Due to the presence of grizzly bears, it is recommend that you hike with bear spray and a partner when in the backcountry of the park.