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Yellowstone National Park — Photo Essay

Yellowstone National Park, sitting on an active volcano, is home to diverse wildlife and fascinating geology. Founded in 1872, it was the World’s first national park.

Covering 3,472 square miles (8,987 sq km) Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Located in Wyoming it extends into Idaho (1%) and Montana (3%).
Upwards of 3 million people visit the park in a typical year.
A photographers paradise, the park is best known for its many hydrothermal features including geysers, hot springs, boiling mud pots and fumaroles.
The Yellowstone River flows northward through the park, feeding and draining Yellowstone Lake (132 sq. mi. — largest high elevation lake in North America) before passing through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and dropping over two spectacular falls.
Visitors to Yellowstone National Park have many options for lodging. You can stay in one of nine lodges with over 2,000 rooms and cabins. Old Faithful Inn, below, is best known. There are also over 2,150 camp sites in the park.

Old Faithful Inn and Ear Spring

Those who choose to stay at the Old Faithful Inn will be within walking distance of the park’s most famous
hydrothermal features, Old Faithful Geyser — one of more than 300 geysers in Yellowstone NP.
The boiling hot spring in the above photo is known as Ear Spring because of its shape.
With such an amazing number and variety of geysers, hot springs, boiling mudpots and fumaroles, not just here but at many locations in Yellowstone, I’ve produced another photo essay on Yellowstone’s Thermal Features.


Yellowstone Rivers and Lakes

River winding through a flat plain with mountains in the distance

Yellowstone National Park is named for the Yellowstone River which flows northward through the park.


People play in the water at the edge of a large lake

The river enters Yellowstone Lake — seen here from Lake Village — at the southeast corner and exits again at the north end.
Yellowstone Lake (136 sq mi, 350 sq km) is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet elevation in the U.S.


Fishing Bridge over a wide section of Yellowstone River

Fishing Bridge on the Yellowstone River just north of Yellowstone Lake. Ironically no fishing is allowed here.
There are a Museum and Visitor Center, gas station, general store and RV Park 1 mile off the Grand Loop Road.


Panoramic picture of Hayden Valley in Yellowstone NP
Traveling north Yellowstone River meanders through Hayden Valley.


Two bison grazing
Hayden Valley is a great place to view wildlife like these bison.


A bison standing next to a river with two geese flying close to the water

We watched a large heard of bison grazing along side the Yellowstone River as geese flew low over the water.


Elk carcass in the river

At another pullout we were told that we had just missed seeing a wolf carry off a hunk of this elk carcass in the river.


Yellowstone River in Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The river picks up speed as it thunders over two waterfalls and races through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
With so many incredible views of the Upper and Lower Falls, steep colorful cliffs and resident osprey I’ve produced another complete photo essay focused on just the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.


Fantail type waterfall in a shallow gorge

The Yellowstone is not the only river in the park and while the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone is the tallest waterfall in the park there are approximately 290 more. The photo above is of 84 ft (26 m) high Gibbon Falls on the Gibbon river just under 5 miles northeast of Madison Junction on the main loop road.


close up view of a log in a river near sunset

The above photo of the Lewis River at sunset was shot near the southern border of the park.


Long narrow lake amid green hills with several mountain peaks in the distance

Swan Lake from the Grand Loop Road south of Mammoth Hot Springs.


Don’t miss my photo essays on Yellowstone National Park’s Hydrothermal Features (geysers, hot springs, boiling mudpots and fumaroles) and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (with its spectacular waterfalls).
Visit more National Parks and National Monuments in the US from my National Parks page.

Next — Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson