Five Must-See Spots in Yellowstone
In 2023, Yellowstone National Park‘s East Gate opens on Friday, May 5th, for another year of dazzling adventurers from all over the world. The world’s first — and most famous — national park is a haven for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, wildlife watchers, and road trippers alike. With a new season of exploration and excitement in the park about to begin, we want to share some must-visit spots with you. So whether it’s your first time in Yellowstone or your 151st, here are five can’t-miss highlights to seek out during your journey.
The 50 Most Beautiful Miles in America
If you’re road-tripping along Cody’s scenic byways to Yellowstone, the must-see scenery begins before you even arrive at the East Gate entrance to the park. Once referred to as “The 50 most beautiful miles in America” by President Theodore Roosevelt, the road connecting Cody to the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park is a picturesque paradise. This road follows the North Fork of the Shoshone River, winding through tunnels carved out of mountains, along the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir, and through Buffalo Bill State Park. Along the way, you’ll be treated to views of rugged landscapes and majestic mountains that are sure to make your jaw drop.
Wildlife Spotting in Lamar Valley
If you have your sights set on some sensational wildlife spotting, you’ll want to make your way to Lamar Valley. Sometimes referred to as “America’s Serengeti”, this vast valley is the perfect place to see large populations of Yellowstone’s wild inhabitants. This is where you’ll find the Lamar Canyon wolf packs, as well as sizeable herds of bison (North America’s largest land mammal), grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, osprey, and more. Make sure to have your cameras close at hand to snap a memory that will last a lifetime! One of our favorite things about driving through Lamar Valley is that there are plenty of pullouts along the road, so it’s easy to safely pull over and enjoy the wildlife. And remember, it’s important to keep your distance and admire the animals from afar — that way, everyone has the best experience possible.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
One of Yellowstone’s most famous sites is also one of our favorites, and it’s easy to see why! The Grand Prismatic Spring, located in the Midway Geyser Basin, is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third-largest hot spring on Earth. It’s well known for its beautiful colors. In fact, those colors are how it got its name! During the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, a team of geologists came across the spring and made note of its distinct colors that are nearly identical to the ones seen when white light strikes a prism. Red, orange, green, blue, yellow, you’ll see them all when you visit. And, just like that, the Grand Prismatic Spring was named.
A boardwalk near the Grand Prismatic Spring can give you an up-close view (but not too close! After all, the spring discharges approximately 560 gallons of 160°F water every minute). For our personal favorite views, make your way to an overlook to get an overhead perspective of the spring in all its colorful glory.
Old Faithful Geyser
Perhaps Yellowstone’s most iconic landmark, the Old Faithful Geyser has been delighting visitors to Cody Yellowstone with displays of raw natural power and prompt punctuality for well over a century. This cone geyser is not the largest in Yellowstone (that distinction belongs to the Steamboat Geyser), but its reliability makes it your best bet for seeing an unforgettable geyser eruption.
What do we mean when we say it’s reliable? We mean it’s a very predictable geothermal site. In fact, since the turn of the century, it’s erupted every 44 minutes to two hours, shooting between 3,700 and 8,400 gallons of water up to 185 feet in the air. So, how many eruptions does that add up to over Yellowstone’s documented history? Over 1 million! And it shows no signs of slowing down. That’s not bad for an old geyser!
Fun fact: Old Faithful was occasionally used as a makeshift laundry when Yellowstone was first founded. The idea was that clothing placed in Old Faithful’s crater would be ejected fresh and washed once it erupted. Luckily, those days are long behind us!
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Ever wonder where Yellowstone National Park gets its name? A quick glimpse of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone might answer that question for you. The park is named after the Yellowstone River, which Native Americans in the region called Mi tse a-da-zi (Yellow Rock River). While the origin of that name is not entirely clear, many believe the name came from the yellow coloration of the rocks that form the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The Canyon is approximately 24 miles long and features some genuinely fantastic look-offs to take in its natural wonder. Among the many look-offs, our favorite has to be Artist Point. Situated on the South Rim of the Canyon, Artist Point offers an absolutely breathtaking view of the Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Yellowstone River. So stop by and snap a photo, or pack your art supplies — you wouldn’t be the first who had inspiration strike upon visiting this beautiful look-off.
Make Cody Yellowstone Part of Your National Park Experience
No matter where your journey through the world’s first national park takes you, make sure a stop in Cody Yellowstone is on your itinerary. You’ll find something for everyone in the Best Western Small Town in the US. There are world-class museums like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, incredible dining, plenty of thrilling outdoor recreation opportunities, and an action-packed rodeo every night of the week — all summer long (there’s a reason they call us the Rodeo Capital of the World!). And that’s only the beginning! Check out everything there is to see and do here to learn more.
Ready to start planning your trip? Request your free Cody Yellowstone Vacation Guide today. Your next Wild adventure is about to begin.