Yellowstone & Grand Tetons
form one of the most amazing landscapes of the planet, with countless
geysers, hot springs, creeks, waterfalls, lakes and peaks.
As in the best tradition of
the NPS, the park is very visitor-friendly. Of course this also means
that most of the attractions are relatively crowded. This is somewhat
alleviated by the sheer dimensions of the parks, since the visitors have
to spread over a large surface. In turn, this also means that long drives
from one place to another are necessary to reach the main attractions
(driving speed in the park is very slow, and made even slower by cars
frequently stopping in the middle of the road to watch wildlife).
- Northern Lake Area &
- Lake Yellowstone
is a huge alpine lake that sits in the middle of the park. This
is perhaps the nicest location in the park to sleep and to use as
a base for visiting.
- Two accomodations
are available on the northern shore of Lake Yellowstone: the Lake
Lodge and the Lake Hotel. The Lake Lodge is cheaper and offers nice
cabins. The Lake Hotel is more elegant and somewhat decadent and
more expensive. Very difficult to get a room with lake view in any
- Hayden Valley
is the name of the area between Lake Village and Canyon Village.
Wildlife sightings are virtually guaranteed (elks, bisons, and possibly
eagles). Best times for this are early morning and late afternoon.
Bisons can't be missed because they usually graze along the main
road and often cross it causing huge traffic jams.
- The northern
shore of the lake also has a couple of nice spots that are ideal
for relaxing & sunbathing on the lake (Mary Bay and Sedge Bay).
- The Lake Butte
Overview (off the road between the Lake and the East Entrance) features
a wonderful view of the Lake and, on clear days, of the Tetons.
- Southern Lake Area
- This is the
area along the road the runs parallel to the west shore of the Lake
Yellowstone and leads to the Southern Entrance.
- Main attractions
here are Lewis Lake & Falls, and the Natural Bridge. The latter
can be reached with a 30-minutes stroll off the main road.
- Geyser Area
- The Geyser
area is the most crowded place in Yellowstone, mainly because of
- The popularity
of Old Faithful is mainly due to its predictability. While geysers
normally erupt basically at random (i.e. there is little or no correlation
between two consecutive eruptions), Old Faithful erupts with impressive
regularity (every 60-70 minutes or so). An amphiteater has been
build to accomodate the herds of tourists awaiting the next eruption.
- The same basin
of Old Faithful (called Upper Geyser Basin) hosts a number of other
geysers and pool, with all possible colors and shapes. The stroll
among them is highly recommended, and is actually much more interesting
that Old Faithful. A short detour (15-20 minutes uphill) leads to
Observation Point with a view (just so so) of the entire basin.
- Further north,
the Midway and the Lower Geyser Basins are also a must-see. The
former has probably the most beautiful colors (Grand Prismatic Spring).
- Canyon Area
- This area
revolves around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a gorge carved
by the Yellowstone River, that has also produced two major Falls.
lookout points all around the Canyon (Lower & Upper Falls).
- Dunraven Pass
and Mt Washburn offer opportunities for feasible and rewarding (in
terms of scenery) hikes, but unluckily the Pass was closed at the
time of our visit.
- Mammoth is
an area of intense hot spring activity. Hot springs differ from
geysers in that they don't erupt periodically, but the continually
release flows of hot steam.
- The Mammoth
Terrace (a white rock formation) is the highlight of the area.
- This is another
area of thermal activity, perhaps the one with the most apocalyptic
- Tower / Roosvelt
- Tower &
Roosvelt indicate the upper right corner of the park, a hilly region
centered around the Lamar Valley. The scenery is here softer than
around the Lake as most of the peaks are not visible.
- This is a
prime area for hiking or horseback riding.
- Bechler Corner
- This is the
south-west edge of the Park, a remote area that can be accessed
only with long hikes and/or from a road that is not connected to
the rest of the park (a 5-6 hour detour would probably needed).
Grand Tetons Park
- Jackson Lake
- Jenny Lake
- This is surely
one of the best spots of the whole Yellowstone area, with the tiny
lake surrounded by the impressive Tetons. The Jenny Lake scenic
drive is a must.
- From Jenny
Lake one could do an epic and attractive hike looping around the
Tetons (Paintbrush Canyon, Lake Solitude, and Cascade Canyon).
- The Jenny
Lake Lodge is an upscale resort fundamentally in the middle of nowhere
and beside the lake. No idea how it came out to be, but the Jenny
Lake Lodge has some of the best meals of the area (in an elegant
restaurant) and 400$ cabins including five-course dinners, bycicles
and horseback rides.
- Driving tour
- Grand Teton
can be quickly visited with a loop drive going south by Jackson
Lake and Jenny Lake to Moose Junction, and then north towards Moran
- Mormon Row
(off Antelope Flats Road), with the remains of the houses of some
early settlers, is another must
Most of the cafeterias throughout the park are managed by the same company.
Bad sign. The menus look alike or identical in most of the places and
every day (not a good omen for quality). An elegant alternative is the
restaurant of the Lake Hotel (reservations needed). or the restaurant
of the Jenny Lake Lodge, if one happens to be around there.
Ideas for a Vacation
** Get a cabin at the Jenny Lake Lodge.
** Use this as a base for an epic day hike through Paintbrush Canyon and
around the Tetons (~20 miles).
** End the
day with the five-course meal at the Restaurant of the Lodge (included
in its pricey fare).
** That would be the best for the mad-keen hiker & gourmand that manages
this site :-)
infinite hiking possibilities. Among them, appealing ones are:
- Mt. Washburn & Sevenmile Hole (~12 miles one way)
- Paintbrush Canyon Loop (see above)
in Yellowstone: Mammoth, Canyon & Roosvelt.