The First Best Place

Yellowstone hot pots, Yellowstone National Park, geyser basin

The First Best Place

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Drew Pogge

Do-not-miss Yellowstone features. 

When it became the world’s first national park in 1872, Yellowstone blew people’s minds with raw beauty, otherworldly thermal features, enormous lakes and rivers, and diverse wildlife. The good news is that 142 years later, it’ll still blow your mind—and it’s just 1.5 hours from Bozeman. Here are a few Yellowstone features not to be missed.

Boiling River Soak

Just inside Gardiner’s northeast entrance, a 140-degree hot spring pours out of a hillside and mingles with the cold, clear water of the Gardiner River. Where the streams meet, swimmers can soak any time of year, adjusting position for comfort. It’s a half- mile hike each way, so returning to the car can be chilly in winter, but the experience is memorable to say the least.

Viewing the Geyser Basins
Everyone in the world has heard of Old Faithful, but if you haven’t seen it in person, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you steer clear of this famous tourist trap, the Park’s other 10,000 thermal features will keep you busy for a while. Check out West Thumb Geyser Basin for colorful features against the backdrop of Yellowstone Lake.

Fishing the Black Canyon
Named for the dark rock walls that line the Yellowstone River, the Black Canyon is an exceptional fishing experience far from the traffic and crowds of the Grand Loop. Access is all by foot and there are stretches of river that are totally inaccessible due to huge cliffs, but once at the water you’ll find plenty of cutthroat, rainbows, and browns to chase your flies.

Hiking to Backcountry Waterfalls
Yellowstone is home to over 300 waterfalls 15 feet or higher. Many of them are remote, backcountry affairs that require overnight trips to reach, but you’ll feel like the first explorers in a new land—and in fact, most of these waterfalls were only recently discovered and documented. Check out The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and their Discovery, and plan your waterfall hunt.

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