2 Amazing Weeks in Yellowstone National Park
Updated: May 20
Visiting Yellowstone National Park is an unforgettable experience that offers the chance to witness incredible geysers, hot springs, and mud pots, encounter iconic wildlife like grizzly bears and bison, and explore the park's beautiful trails and scenic drives. With its stunning natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure, Yellowstone is a destination that truly has something for everyone.
Yellowstone NP Yellowstone
Complete Guide. Day Hikes
Did you know that Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a volcanic caldera and supervolcano? The last eruption was in 1350 BC, but don't worry, it's not overdue for the next one! This is why you'll find so much geothermal activity throughout the park. During our 14-day stay, we got to experience the Norris Geyser Basin, midway Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Artist Point, Lookout Point, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, and The Old Faithful Area. We even did a couple of hikes to Lost Lake and Cascade Lake. At the Canyon Campground near Canyon Village, we had the pleasure of sharing the experience with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter at the site next to ours. Being centrally located in the north-central part of the park made it the perfect spot for our family adventure. We had a blast exploring Yellowstone together and enjoying some relaxing downtime at the campsite.
It was 12 miles from the campground to the Norris Geyser Basin, 30 miles to the Lamar Valley Ranger Station, 33 miles to Mammoth Hot Springs, and 42 miles to Old Faithful. This was the 4th stop on this National Park road trip. For the start of the trip go here.
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, and one of the best places to experience the park's beauty is Artist Point and Lookout Point. These two locations offer stunning views of Lower Yellowstone Falls, one of the park's most iconic landmarks.
Located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Artist Point and Lookout Point provide visitors with panoramic views of the falls, the canyon, and the surrounding landscape. The vantage points offer an unforgettable perspective of the natural beauty of the park.
The Lower Yellowstone Falls is the park's largest waterfall, with a height of 308 feet. It is a spectacular sight to behold, with water cascading over the edge of the canyon and plummeting into the river below. The falls are also surrounded by colorful cliffs and rock formations, adding to their majestic beauty.
Visitors can access Artist Point and Lookout Point via a short walk from the parking lot. Both locations offer different views of the falls, with Artist Point providing a sweeping panorama of the canyon and the falls, while Lookout Point offers a more intimate view of the falls themselves.
Visitors are advised to take caution while visiting these locations, as the canyon can be steep and the edges can be dangerous. It is important to stay on designated trails and to follow all safety instructions and warning signs.
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. Among them is the Norris Geyser Basin, which boasts a stunning display of geothermal activity.
Located in the northwest corner of the park, the Norris Geyser Basin is the oldest, hottest, and most dynamic thermal area in Yellowstone. It covers an area of 2 square miles and features more than 500 geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots.
Visitors can access the Norris Geyser Basin via the Norris Geyser Basin Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that takes visitors through the heart of the thermal area. The trail offers stunning views of the geothermal features, as well as the surrounding landscape. Along the way, visitors can also learn about the geology and history of the area through informational signs and exhibits.
One of the highlights of the Norris Geyser Basin is the Steamboat Geyser, which is the world's tallest active geyser. It can erupt to a height of 300 feet, making it an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Other notable features include the Norris Geyser, which is the park's most unpredictable geyser, and the Porcelain Basin, which features an array of colorful hot springs.
Visitors are advised to stay on designated trails and boardwalks to avoid damaging the delicate geothermal features and to ensure their safety. The thermal areas can be dangerous, with scalding water and unstable ground, so it is important to heed all warning signs and to keep a safe distance from the geysers and hot springs.
National Geographic Wall Map
The Midway Geyser Basin is one of the park's must-see destinations. It is located in the Lower Geyser Basin, halfway between the park's two main entrances, and features a number of impressive geothermal features, including the Grand Prismatic Spring.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and is known for its brilliant colors, which range from bright blue to orange and red. It is also one of the most photographed features in Yellowstone, and for good reason. The colors of the spring are caused by pigmented bacteria that thrive in the hot water, creating a stunning display of natural beauty.
Visitors to the Midway Geyser Basin can access the Grand Prismatic Spring via a boardwalk that takes them around the spring and allows them to view it from different angles. The boardwalk also provides access to other geothermal features, including the Excelsior Geyser Crater and the Turquoise Pool.
The Turquoise Pool, on the other hand, is a smaller hot spring that is known for its brilliant blue color. It is also home to unique microbial mats that create a textured pattern on the surface of the water.
Visitors are advised to stay on the designated boardwalks and trails to avoid damaging the delicate geothermal features and to ensure their safety. The thermal areas can be dangerous, with scalding water and unstable ground, so it is important to heed all warning signs and to keep a safe distance from the geysers and hot springs.
The Grand Prismatic Spring overlook was closed at that time for new construction but we did get up there at a later visit. See our "8 Fun-Filled Days in Yellowstone National Park"
The Lamar Valley located in the park's northeast corner is a pristine wilderness area that is home to a wide variety of wildlife and some of the park's most stunning vistas.
The valley is known for its abundance of wildlife, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears. Visitors to the Lamar Valley can take guided tours or drive through the area to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. It is a unique opportunity to witness the beauty and power of Yellowstone's wildlife.
In addition to its wildlife, the Lamar Valley is also home to some of the park's most scenic vistas. Visitors can take in the stunning beauty of the valley from vantage points such as Soda Butte and Specimen Ridge, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The Lamar Valley is also a great place for hiking and exploring. Visitors can take guided hikes or explore the area on their own, discovering hidden waterfalls and natural wonders as they go. There are several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes for experienced hikers.
Visitors are advised to bring plenty of water, snacks, and appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking. The Lamar Valley is a wilderness area, and visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and rugged terrain.
We have been to Yellowstone NP twice for a total of 4 weeks and have yet to see a wolf or grizzly bear. We have seen bison, pronghorn antelope, moose, and a black bear.
Old Faithful Geyser is perhaps the most famous attraction in Yellowstone National Park. It is a predictable geyser that erupts with great regularity, shooting boiling water and steam up to 180 feet into the air. Visitors from all over the world come to Yellowstone to see this natural wonder in action. The geyser erupts approximately every 90 minutes, and the eruptions can last from one to five minutes. There are several viewing areas around the geyser, allowing visitors to witness the eruption from different angles. There is also a visitor center nearby, where visitors can learn more about the geyser's history and geology.
The Mammoth Hot Springs area of Yellowstone National Park is a unique and fascinating destination for visitors. Located in the northwest corner of the park, it is known for its stunning travertine terraces, which are formed by hot water and minerals rising from underground springs.
Visitors to the Mammoth Hot Springs area can explore the terraces on a series of boardwalks that wind through the area, offering spectacular views of the formations and the surrounding landscape. The terraces are constantly changing, with new formations being created and old ones being destroyed, so each visit is a new experience.
In addition to the terraces, the Mammoth area is also home to historic buildings, including the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and the Fort Yellowstone Historic District. Visitors can take guided tours or explore the area on their own, learning about the history and culture of Yellowstone and the role that the Mammoth area played in its development.
The Mammoth area is also a great place for wildlife viewing, with elk and bison often seen wandering through the town and surrounding hillsides. Visitors are advised to keep a safe distance from these wild animals and to follow all park guidelines to ensure their safety.
Another short hike was out to Cascade Lake. It was 5.5 miles total out and back and mostly flat. It starts in a pine forest but most of the hike is through meadows with wildflowers.
Visitors to Cascade Lake can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The lake is surrounded by hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and there are several picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the scenery.
Cascade Lake is also a great place for fishing, with rainbow, brook, and brown trout all found in its waters. Visitors can fish from the shore or rent a boat and explore the lake from the water. Fishing permits are required and can be obtained at the park's visitor centers.
Our favorite times in the park were early mornings for sunrise with a lot fewer people out and about. Also, be prepared for bison jams when bison decide to block the road. They can take anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of an hour to clear.
Another nice hike to avoid the crowds is out to Lost Lake. We did this hike 2 times. Once in the middle of the day with the family and once at sunrise with just our son. The sunrise was beautiful with sunbeams streaking across the lake. We accessed the trail from the Petrified Tree parking lot. The Petrified Tree is a vertical fossilized redwood trunk about 10 feet high. The hike from the parking lot to the lake is .7 of a mile one way. It’s a nice hike, mostly flat with a beautiful lake with lily pads.
We had a lot of fun in Yellowstone with Mick, Marisela, and Sirena.
In conclusion, a first visit to Yellowstone National Park is an experience like no other however 2 weeks in Yellowstone National Park is just not enough. From the stunning geothermal features to the incredible wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, this park truly has something for everyone. Whether you're an avid hiker or just looking for a scenic drive, you won't be disappointed. And with so much to see and do, it's worth taking the time to plan your visit and make the most of your time in this incredible national park. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Yellowstone today and get ready for an adventure you'll never forget.
Do you want to know where we went next? "2 Days in Grand Teton"
Be sure to check out our 2nd trip to Yellowstone in the “Sierras to the Rockies” blog
Lorna’s Tips and Lessons
Get off the road. Everyone hears about the crowds in Yellowstone. However, I have read 90 Percent of National Park Visitors never leave the road. We found once you are on the trails there were no crowds. I am sure you have heard it before to bring plenty of water. I prefer a backpack with an internal hydration system. I currently use an Osprey Hiking Backpack which has been the perfect size for all my needs and fits well. Don’t get a backpack for hiking (whether it has a hydro system or not without a hip belt that helps with the distribution of weight. I made that mistake previously on a long hike. A fellow hiker let me try their backpack and my Osprey Backpack was soon purchased.