Yellowstone’s most famous features are geothermal in nature But there is a lot more to Yellowstone than just that. Here are a few more areas in Yellowstone (and one just to the south) that you may want to visit.
1. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River
Worth the stop – If you’re short time on time it’s not a must see, but it’s definitely a worthwhile sight..
Approximate time – Anywhere from a quick stop to a long walk.
Difficulty of walk – easy – difficult depending on the path
My thoughts – I’d recommend the Artist Point on the South Rim if you’re only going to make one stop. It has the most classic view of the lower falls. If you want a nice view of the canyon itself go to Inspiration Point on the North Rim. I’d also suggest going to the Brink of the Upper Falls (North Rim). It’s not the best photographic opportunity, but you can get up really close to the waterfall and really feel how powerful it is. Gordie found this a little bit scary this year. He woke up having a nightmare about it.
2. The Area Around Tower Roosevelt
Worth the stop: Even if you just drive through instead of stop it’s worth a trip, but if you’re only in Yellowstone for a day or two and it’s not on your route, you may want to skip itMy thoughts: The Tower/Roosevelt area is in the North East corner of Yellowstone. The around around it is some of the best spots to see wildlife. We’ve seen bears to the South, and to the East you are very likely to see some elk. The geography is very different from the other areas of Yellowstone (more mountains and forests). There is a part along this roadway at gets to nearly 8000 ft in elevation. I generally think Calgary is pretty high up at around 3400 ft above sea level. There is also some interesting geology to look at, like the Bleached Cliffs pictured above. We had been hoping to see more of this area this year, but the road was closed while we were there.
3. Yellowstone Lake
Worth the stop: At least a drive by
My thoughts: To be quite honest, we haven’t spent much time at the Yellowstone Lake. We’ve walked along the West Thumb Geyser Basin, driven along the road beside it and eaten at a restaurant beside it. But that’s it. It doesn’t help that, as you can see in the picture above on the right, the lake was still frozen while we were there this year. But if you are interested, you can rest non-motorized boats or small powerboats (with a crew and guide) at Bridge Bay Marina to take out on the lake.
4. Grand Teton National Park/John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway
Worth the stop: It depends
My thoughts: Included in your entrance fee to Yellowstone, is admission to the National Park areas to the South, the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway and the Grand Teton National Park. It’s a bit of an extra drive, but if you are a national park passport stamp collector, you’ll want to make the trip, because you can get a stamp for both of these national park areas. Sometimes the Parkway Visitor Centre is closed, but we were able to get both at the visitor’s center in the Grand Teton National Park. Also, if you are planning on participating (or rather, your kids) in the Jr. Ranger program, you can earn a badge in the Grand Teton National Park too.
The mountains and lake front in this area is stunning. This year, there was still quite a bit of snow along the way (see the picture above – my husband is 6’3”, that is a lot of snow!) and Jackson Lake was still pretty low in Coulter Bay Village. Other times, it is a pretty vibrant recreation area.
Check out the last instalment – Wildlife of Yellowstone. Also, if you missed them be sure to look at my tips on Taking Your Kids to US National Parks, Gordie’s Favorite Things In Yellowstone, Accommodations and Things to See Around Old Faithful, Things to See in Other Geothermal Areas.