|Old Faithful, Steamboat, Fishing Cone, Big
Gumper -- head for Yellowstone National Park if you want to know more! These are the names
given to the amazing geo-thermal phenomena here -- geysers and volcanoes that fume and
spew out hot water, steam and boiling mud. The first national park in the country,
Yellowstone is also extremely popular. Battle with the summer crowds if you must, but do
not miss the unforgettable experience of seeing a host of wild life eking out their
existence in this surrealistic landscape.
popular geyser, Old Faithful, is named for its consistency in spewing out steam and
water every 80 minutes. Walk along the trails connecting to the other geysers and hot
springs and hopefully, you will be in time for the twice-a-day eruption of the Grand
Trek to Firehole River, which is thirty miles north
of Old Faithful and take in the awesome Grand Prismatic Spring, the Excelsior Geyser
Crater and the Fountain Paint Pot with its a muddy bubbling brew.
The Norris Geyser basin boasts of the Steamboat -
the tallest geyser at 400 ft, Echinus Geyser- the largest acid water geyser and the
jewel-like Emerald Spring, so named because of the beautiful blue and yellow colours of
Mammoth Hot Springs live up to their name and are
characterized by multi-coloured bacterial species in the steaming waters. The Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone is striking- its red and rust rocky face and the two beautiful
waterfalls, the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls best viewed from interestingly named
observation points such as Artists Point and Inspiration Point. Walk along Uncle Tom's
trail to take a closer look at the Lower Falls.
Pristine and deep, the Yellowstone Lake, the largest
alpine lake in the U.S offers excellent fishing and boating. In summer one can actually
take a boating or fishing expedition I the lake. At Fishing Cone, earlier tourists
actually cooked the fish they caught in the lake! North of the lake, sulphur fumes assail
you at Mud Volcano, a bleak and desolate area where the earth seethes and gurgles
quite ominously. Walk along this barren stretch till the Sour Lake, aptly named for
the lack of anything attractive here.
You can also get off the beaten track and explore the park
on lesser-known trails. Be sure to consult park rangers before you do so and take enough
provisions and a good map.
Noisy geysers letting of steam, cool lakes, magnificent
waterfalls, bubbling mud pools, colourful wildflowers, enormous herds of bison and elks,
lonely bears, rumbling volcanoes -- the Yellowstone National Park has all this and more!
For pedestrians and bikers the entry fee is a nominal US$
10 valid for 7 days. If you plan on bringing in your motorbike or snowmobile, it will cost
you US$ 15 for week and if you are driving a private car then you will have to pay US$ 20.
This is also valid for 7 days.
An annual pass for US$ 40 is available too. This is valid
for Yellowstone and the Grand Teton and can be used for one year from date of purchase.
American citizens are eligible for lifetime passes, which allow entry to all the national
parks in the country. These passes are free for those with permanent disabilities, and
cost a nominal amount- between US$ 10 and 50- for everybody else.
Best time to visit
Summer is the most popular season with really pleasant
weather - most tourists come here from mid-June to mid-September. Winter is cold and a
quieter time to visit, both in terms of crowds, animal sighting and geo-thermal activity.
However, you can go cross-country skiing or take snow coach tours.
Don't forget to bring a large floppy hat, sunglasses, a
handkerchief to ward off the sulphur fumes, a camera and sturdy hiking boots.
There are flights toYellowstone Regional Airport from
Denver. Major national airlines connect Denver and Salt Lake City to the Park, landing at
Jackson Hole Airport, 40 miles south of the park. Car-rental services are available at the
For those of you who are driving in: From Cody, you can
reach Yellowstone NP, 52 miles away on U.S 14, 16, 20. From Jackson, 60 miles away, take
the U.S 191/89 to the north. From the south, you have to enter via the Grand Teton
National Park on U.S 191/89
A host of bus services are available for the park.
Within the park, rent a car - it's the best way to see the
many attractions of the Yellowstone National Park. Drive along the Grand Loop Road,
inscribing a figure of 8 as you go along, with the most popular attractions closer to the
Upper and Lower loops. Though you can hire bicycles or walk within the park, it is not
recommended during the night as you may encounter large wild animals and put your safety
at risk. There are several companies offering bus tours. To get a closer look at the
thermal wonders, walking trails are provided -- do not get off the marked trails as the
hot rocks and boiling water jets can scald you.
Visitor Alert! For safety
reasons, please consult with the park rangers when exploring trails. Do not approach or
provoke wild animals. Stay a good distance away from bubbling or you may get scalded. Try
not to bicycle or walk in the park area as wild animals are at large. Most regions in the
park have clinics. Contact them in any emergency.
AmFac Parks and Resorts offer a variety of accommodation
options within the park -choose from small Roughrider cabins with no facilities to plush
Frontier and Western cabins with attached baths and all facilities. Reservations are
definitely required, especially in the busy months of July and August.
For budget travellers, camping is the cheapest option-- the
National Park Service offers twelve camping sites, with varying facilities in terms of
potable water, bathrooms and laundry services. Reservations can be quite difficult as most
operate on a first-come, first served basis. However, in the five campsites where
reservations are accepted, be sure to book early as reservations are accepted two years in
Towns at the park's entrance such as Jackson, Cody, West
Yellowstone and Gardiner and villages such as Cooke City and Silver Gate have some good
motels, cabins and cottages.
There are plenty of snack bars and restaurants inside the
park but be warned that they can be expensive. The gateway towns offer a cheaper
alternative, as there are plenty of cafes and restaurants serving inexpensive meals.
For further information contact Yellowstone National
Park, Post Box 168, Mammoth 82190-0168. Tel No. 307/344-7381. Each region in the park has
it's own visitor center, providing maps and info on the region.