When asked about the best way to experience a National Park, I always have one answer that is applicable 100% of the time. Get out of your car and W A L K! Seriously! You're not going to experience the full and true beauty of a National Park from "hit and runs" You know, parking, seeing the thing real quick and then hopping back in to see the next thing. I won't lie and say It's not tempting to go to a place like Yellowstone and want to cram as many sights as possible in one day. But hey! If that's you're mission, have at it! But if you're looking for a more fulfilling experience that you'll remember so much more, consider skipping the scheduled sightseeing and going off the beaten path. You might be pleasantly surprised at what hidden treasures you find!
It's often said that one could spend a LIFETIME in Yellowstone National Park and still not see everything that the park has to offer. At 2.2 million acres, and 900 miles of trails Yellowstone encompasses a seemingly infinite wilderness to explore.
1. Imperial Geyser
Seeing Old Faithful erupt can feel like a destiny for some visiting Yellowstone. It is, after all, the most well-known feature of the entire park. However, if the idea of skipping the crowds, and chilling in the backcountry to watch a lesser known geyser erupt sounds more like your ideal afternoon, then Imperial geyser belongs on the top of your Yellowstone Itinerary. At 6.5 miles, this trail is an easy day hike. You could combine it with a pit stop at Fairy Falls, a 200 foot waterfall, or go through Imperial meadows where you're practically guaranteed to pass herds of bison and other brilliantly colored geothermal features.
But the destination? a wonderfully isolated, and frequently erupting geyser surrounded by fiery red rivers and boiling mud pots without any of the crowds.
2. Mt. Washburn
Who's craving the pain? If you have this hike on your list, get ready for an exhausting but exhilarating climb that ends with a phenomenal view of Yellowstone's landscape and surrounding mountains. The Mt. Washburn trail is 6.8 miles roundtrip with a nearly 14000 ft elevation gain. You're definitely committing to a workout with this trail, but you'll also see some truly rare views of Yellowstone that most people never see.
3. Shoshone Geyser Basin
Now, if you're REALLY committed to having a unique Yellowstone experience, and aren't one to shy away from hiking 18 miles in one day, Shoshone Geyser Basin is worth every mile. With 500 geothermal features in the basin, this trek is guaranteed to immerse you in the deep wilderness of Yellowstone. A bubbling, gurgling, steaming, colorful dreamscape awaits all to yourself. It true if you want to have a unique Yellowstone experience you're going to have to work for it, but the hike is beyond worth what you're sure to find here. While this trek is possible as a day hike, you may also want to consider making it an overnight trip to have more time to explore the area. Just be sure to apply for the backcountry permit if you do!
4. Lone Star Geyser
At a shorter 5.3 mile trip, Lone Star Geyser is a totally doable day hike! Although its eruptions are not formally predicted by the Park Service, the general consensus among Yellowstone travelers is that it erupts approximately every 3 hours. Commonly in the mornings between 9:30 and 10:30 am. Whether you see it erupt or not, the trail to this geyser is a lovely stroll along the steaming firehole river.
5. Point Sublime
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of the premiere sights in the park! However, most are inclined only to take it all in from the parking lot. To get a more unique and lesser known view of this spectacle. This easy hike under 3 miles will guide you all along the awe-inspiring rim of the canyon and gives phenomenal views the entire time.
By The Way...
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