Make The Most Of A Full Day In The Park
Yellowstone National Park is a bucket-list destination of unbelievable, variegated landscapes and distinctive features unlike any other. Beautiful boiling springs, bubbling mudpots and powerful geysers draw visitors from all over to this otherworldly land. Visiting during the summer months affords mild temperatures, vibrant surroundings and the opportunity to see a plethora of wildlife.
America's First National Park
Take a Transformative Journey
From downtown Jackson, you’ll find yourself at the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park in about 90 minutes. As you drive into Yellowstone, the beautiful, diverse forested landscape beckons you forth to adventure. On your way to West Thumb and Grant’s Village, you’ll drive alongside the Lewis River, past the sweeping Lewis River Canyon and Lewis Falls, to Lewis Lake – named for Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark. Grant Village offers the first services inside the park, so this is a good stopping point for a quick break.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Passing Grant’s Village, you’ll arrive at West Thumb Geyser Basin – a quieter, comparatively uncongested area of the park. Here you’ll encounter just a small stretch of the Yellowstone Lake shoreline, which spreads over 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, making it the largest high elevation lake in the country. Aside the lake, a well-maintained boardwalk grants access to geothermal features including the Abyss Pool – boasting an ultramarine hue and seemingly unending depth, and the Fishing Cone, a hot spring once used to “cook” fish that were caught in the lake. Another unusual feature are the Thumb Paint Pots – mini mud volcanoes.
Fountain Paint Pot
Driving towards the west entrance to the park, you’ll pass Old Faithful and the Midway Geyser Basin before arriving at the furthest point in our itinerary, the Fountain Paint Pot region. This area of Lower Geyser Basin boasts all of the hydrothermal features found in the park – mudpots, geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles – which can be accessed by a compact half-mile long boardwalk loop.
The first feature you’ll encounter is Celestine Spring – a vibrant, deep blue pool – followed by a lively collection of geysers erupting with various levels of regularity, including Clepsydra (the most persistent), Fountain, Jelly, Jet, Morning (which can reach up to an incredible 200 feet), Spasm and Twig.
Make your way around the walkway toward Red Spouter, which combines the activity of a fumarole, hot spring, and mudpot depending on the time of year. Further on, you will pass Leather Pool and a collection of additional hissing, gassing fumaroles. Beyond these fumaroles, the trail delivers you to Fountain Paint Pot – a bubbling and popping mud spring. Continuing the loop back to the parking lot, you’ll pass Silex Spring – a small blue pool rimmed with white silica and surrounded by orange-colored runoff – a product of the microorganisms that thrive in hot springs.
Grand Prismatic Spring
The largest and arguably the most stunning hot spring in the country, this vibrant, geothermic pool is roughly 300 feet in diameter and an incredible 160 feet deep. The gorgeous rainbow waters make this attraction particularly awe-inspiring. Coloration comes from pigmented thermophilic bacteria that thrive on the minerals present in the spring and generate a range of hues including reds, yellows, and oranges. Don’t be surprised to see bison tracks in the spring – their hooves withstand the intense temperatures, and they often seek out hot springs in the cold winter months. But make no mistake, this area can be very dangerous so please adhere to the boardwalk or the hiking trail overlook to observe this beautiful attraction.
The final stop on our day in Yellowstone, Old Faithful is one of the most iconic symbols of the park. This world-renowned geyser erupts every hour and a half, so be sure you plan accordingly and secure a good viewing spot. This is also a good time to grab a bite to eat, visit the gift shop or learn more about the icon that has been drawing visitors for over 150 years. A boardwalk and benches surround the geyser from a safe distance and provide several viewing angles, and with eruptions clearing between 130-180 feet, be sure and have your camera at the ready.