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Yellowstone National Park is a colossal wilderness of diverse landscapes and ecosystems, a natural playground of mountains, roaring waterfalls, volcanic phenomena, bears and bison.
The park was established in 1872 to preserve and protect its 2.2 million acres (890,308 hectares) as a rugged retreat.
Beneath the forests, springs and mountain peaks is an active volcanic system. Although the last major eruption was 640,000 years ago, its presence is revealed at the surface with steam vents, geysers, mud pools and superheated water pools. Visit Mammoth Hot Springs and walk along the boardwalks that trail around some of these hydrothermal features.
Make your way to the park’s most popular attraction, Old Faithful. The world-famous geyser erupts about 17 times a day. According to park officials, the intervals between eruptions can be from 60 to 120 minutes. Prediction times are posted at the Old Faithful Visitor Center. An eruption can last several minutes, expelling thousands of gallons of boiling water and steam high into the air. While you are in the area enjoy the park’s other sights. Old Faithful is situated in Upper Geyser Basin, a 1-square mile (2.59-square kilometer) area that contains over 150 geysers.
Hiking is a great way to explore Yellowstone’s wilderness; there are more than 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) of trails. Some have gentle slopes and are suitable for most people while others can be challenging. Among the most popular hikes are those around Old Faithful, the Geyser Hill Loop and day hikes in the canyon area. Yellowstone’s canyon is approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) long and more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) deep in places.
Experienced hikers used to strenuous conditions may take the Observation Peak trail. It climbs 1,400 feet (425 meters) in 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) to a mountain peak overlooking Old Faithful Village.
Yellowstone National Park is open every day of the year. There are five entrances. Any of these will take you to the Grand Loop Road, the figure-eight trail that links many of the park’s principle features. Some entrances and roads may be closed during the cold winter months.
For a full list of amenities, activities including camping and sports and safety advice, visit Yellowstone’s pages on the U.S. National Park Service’s official website.
You won't believe how many things there are to do at Yellowstone National Park. Here are some ideas to get you started:
For many more activities, have a look at our Northwest Wyoming things to do page.