People often think of New York City or Los Angeles when they initially picture the U.S., but they fail to consider the fact that America has some of the most diverse and impressive natural splendor in the world. From the Grand Banks of New England to the bayous of Louisana, the Rockies of Colorado, and the great trees of the Pacific Northwest, there is no lack of scenery.
Among all of these and plenty more, natural splendor is possibly the granddaddy of them all - Yellowstone National Park. The first national park of the U.S., and arguably in the world, this is a must-see attraction. If you haven’t decided on visiting yet, here are 6 good reasons why it should be at the top of your list.
The most popular visitor attraction isn’t the biggest draw for no reason. Old Faithful is a massive geyser that shoots water and steam almost 56m high. This event happens every 90 minutes, so you can plan to go at the right time all while still seeing the rest of the Upper Geyser Basins views on the boardwalk. Still, just because it’s the touristy part of the park doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some time learning about it and witnessing it first hand.
2. Witness the Diverse Wildlife
Speaking of diverse wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is home to over 60 species, which makes the park a megafauna area, along with roughly 1700 species of plants and trees. The park is the largest intact ecosystem in the world, which is a feat all on its own, especially in today’s developed age. Among the animals, you’ll spot the Rocky Mountain wolf, grizzly bears, American bald eagles, cougars, Canadian lynx, bison, elk, bighorn, goats, peregrine falcon, and a whole host of amphibious reptiles and fish life. It’s enough to talk about it, but it’s better to see it for yourself.
3. Experience the Awe of El Capitan
If you’re someone interested in rock climbing or have happened to see Alex Honnold’s documentary on Netflix, the name El Capitan means a whole lot to you. Even if you aren’t an enthusiast of the sport, El Capitan is an absolutely awe-inspiring rock face that juts out of the mountain ranges. It’s a badge of honor for adventure seekers to scale it, but as a visitor, sometimes it’s enough just to see its massive 7573-foot elevation in person. There’s also Half Dome, which stands at 8846 feet.
4. Plenty of Photo Opportunities
If you forget to bring your camera with you, you’ll regret it sorely. Yellowstone National Park is one of the most photographed places on Earth, and for good reason. The Upper Geyser Basin and the gorgeous Fountain Paint Pots (pictured above) are some of the most unusual natural sights you’ll come across. While they look nice, they contain an acidic hot spring that is most assuredly not nice to touch. Along with the wildlife and the mountain ranges, you’ll want to remember to bring a camera and plenty of memory cards.
The Fountain Paint Pots and Mud Pots of the Upper Geyser Basin aren’t just unusual to look at, they contain some of the most interesting biological discoveries so far. The microorganisms and living organisms inside the hot springs are millions to billions of years old, which has provided researchers a deeper look into our genetic past. Yellowstone represents an amalgamation of the natural beauty of the now and a glimpse into the faraway past of our world. It’s also on top of the world’s largest and oldest super volcano, as the Yellowstone Caldera rests below, measuring 34 miles by 45 miles.
6. Be Inspired by the Sheer Beauty and Vastness of America’s Landscape
As a final reason to visit Yellowstone, the sheer beauty and vastness of America’s landscapes are hard to encapsulate. People have written poems, books, researched it, recorded it, and shared it with the world over, but it’s impossible to get a good appreciation of it until you see it. Yellowstone’s enormous scale of size and wildlife, coupled with the unbridled beauty make it the perfect encapsulation of what makes America’s wildlife so special.
Waxing poetic about Yellowstone National Park doesn’t do it justice, no matter how many times you can hear how awe-inspiring it is. Yet, this is entirely true. Without experiencing it, you’ll never truly understand what it’s like to stand under El Capitan, or witness the Old Faithful erupt, or walk on ancient grounds, so you owe it yourself to visit as soon as possible.