Yellowstone’s Grand Circle is a rough figure "8" shape that forms the interior roads within Yellowstone. The upper loop of the figure "8" circles Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction and Norris Junction then back to Mammoth. It is roughly 70 miles in circumference. The communities of Mammoth and Gardiner, MT, at the Northeast gate, Silver Gate and Cooke City, MT, from the Northeast gate. But if you are connecting from the east gate (Cody), south Gate (Jackson) or west gate (West Yellowstone you will connect to the upper loop through the lower loop.
The Lower Loop of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop I the more popular loop as it has the lion’s share of Yellowstone’s thermal features, Old Faithful being one of them as well as Yellowstone Lake and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
There are more things to see on this loop that you could see in a week so I will cut to the chase so you are sure to see the three most important features. 1.Everyone has to see Old Faithful once. 2. The Fountain Paint Pots trail showcases all four types of thermal features in a half-mile walk and is home to the largest Mudpot. 3. The most breathtaking and most often missed place in Yellowstone is Lower Yellowstone Falls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, this is always the highlight of all of my tours in the geological wonder category. Be sure to see these three things.
The Lower Falls is the tallest waterfall
in the park at 308 feet. The arrow at the top of
the photo points at a group of visitors on the
at the Brink of the Lower Falls.
Over the years
the estimates of the height of this falls
has varied dramatically.
In 1851 Jim Bridger estimated
its height at 250 feet. One outrageous newspaper
story from 1867 placed its height at "thousands
A map from 1869 gives the falls its current
name of Lower Falls for the first time and
at 350 feet.
It mattered little how tall the
observers thought the falls was. They
comment on its awe-inspiring nature.
A member of the 1870 Washburn party N. P. Langford
poetic description: "A grander scene
than the lower cataract of the Yellowstone
witnessed by mortal
In Yellowstone’s quiet northeastern corner a valley suddenly emerges from hiding, as if the surrounding peaks and ridges finally consent to share the secret paradise. Just after you enter the park from the northeast, you'll cut between 10,928-foot Abiathar Peak and the 10,404-foot Barronette Peak. You'll pass the extinct geothermal cone called Soda Butte as well as the two nicest campgrounds in the park, Pebble Creek and Slough Creek. The Lamar Valley of Yellowstone Park is a primeval scene. It is now complete with wolves, as well as grizzly and black bears, coyotes, cougar, even wolverine, thousands of elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and perhaps 500 bison. The best time to see wildlife is in the early morning or late evening. Lamar Valley has the largest concentration of grizzlies in the park, and with a little patience and much luck, you may see one.-------- Read More
In the heart of Yellowstone Park is a
giant blue gem called Yellowstone Lake, not a very imaginative
name, but appropriate. Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake
at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America
with a surface area of about 84,000 acres of 132 square
miles; it is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft above
sea level. To the east of Yellowstone Lake are the snow-capped
peaks of the Absaroka Mountain Range and to the north the
Beartooth Mountains grace the skyline; its kind of like
Lake Tahoe except with geysers on its beaches. The Yellowstone
Lake is a beautiful, clear and deep, body of water. In the
center of our countryês first National Park.
Morning Glory Pool
Long a favored destination for park visitors, Morning
Glory Pool was named in the 1880s for its remarkable
likeness to its namesake flower. However, this beautiful
pool has fallen victim to vandalism. People have thrown
literally tons of coins, trash, rocks, and logs into
the pool. Much of the debris subsequently became embedded
in the sides and vent of the spring, affecting water
circulation and accelerating the loss of thermal energy.
Through the years Morning Glory's appearance has changed
as its temperature dropped. Orange and yellow bacteria
that formerly colored only the periphery of the spring
now spread toward its center.
Mammoth Hot Spring
Mammoth Spring is a favorite not only because of its
wide range of bright colors but also for its ornate
travertine formations. Since the 1890s, when records
were first kept on the activity of Mammoth Hot Springs,
Minerva has gone through both active and inactive periods.
For several years in the early 1900s, it was completely
dry, but by 1951 reports state that Minerva was again
active. During some cycles of activity, water discharge
and mineral deposition have been so great that boardwalks
have been buried beneath mounds of newly deposited travertine.
Consequently, an elevated and movable boardwalk now
spans the hill in the vicinity of Minerva. In recent
years, hot spring activity has shifted dramatically
from Minerva to other features on the Lower Terraces,
and back again.
Grand Parismatic Spring
Grand Parismatic Spring is the largest of Yellowstone's
hot spring pools.
Where hot water is limited and hydrogen sulfide gas is
present (emitting the "rotten egg" smell common
to thermal areas), sulfuric acid is generated. The acid
dissolves the surrounding rock into fine particles of
silica and clay that mix with what little water there
is to form the seething and bubbling mudpots. The sights,
sounds, and smells of areas like Artist and Fountain
paint pots and Mud Volcano make these curious features
some of the most memorable in the park.
An estimated 20,000 park visitors have observed wolves
since their return in 1995. The program's visibility
has resulted in opportunities to educate audiences about
predator-prey relationships, endangered species restoration,
and the importance of maintaining intact ecosystems.
The program has also generated numerous partnerships
with private groups and individuals who generously donated
their time and money—critical in an era of reduced
budgets and staff downsizing
The grizzly bear population within the Yellowstone ecosystem
is estimated to be approximately 280-610 (Eberhardt
and Knight 1996) bears. The park does not have a current
estimate of the black bear population; black bears are
considered to be common in the park.
During the last 23 years (1980-2002), bears have
injured 32 people within YNP. Grizzly bears and
black bears were involved in 25 (78%) and 4 (13%)
of the injuries, respectively. The species of bear
could not be determined for 3 (9%) of the injuries.
Three injuries occurred within a developed area,
2 occurred during a bear management handling accident,
and 27 occurred in backcountry areas. Of the people
injured while hiking, 57% were hiking off-trail.
All (100%) backcountry hiking injuries involved
people hiking in groups of less than 3 people.
Bear Management Area restrictions reduce the chance
of bear/human encounters and the risk of bear-caused
human injury in areas with known seasonal concentrations
of grizzly bears.
Winter visitors to the park still enjoy watching and
photographing bighorns along the cliffs between Gardiner
and Mammoth, as they did 80 years ago. Annual surveys
of bighorn indicate that the resident herd on Yellowstone's
northern range consists of at least 150-225 animals.
Summering bands are found in the Gallatin and Washburn
Ranges, the Absarokas, and occasionally in the
Red Mountains. On Dunraven Pass, a section of the
Grand Loop Road in the park, a band of ewes and
lambs has become somewhat habituated to summer
More than 30,000 elk from 7-8 different herds summer
in Yellowstone and approximately 15,000 to 22,000 winter
in the park. The subspecies of elk that lives here are
found from Arizona to northern Canada along the Rocky
Mountain chain; other species of elk were historically
distributed from coast to coast, but disappeared from
the eastern United States in the early 1800s. Some other
subspecies of elk still occupy coastal regions of California,
Washington, and Oregon. Elk are the second largest member
of the deer family (moose are larger). Adult males,
or bulls, range upwards of 700 pounds while females,
or cows, average 500-525 pounds. Their coats are reddish
brown with heavy, darker-colored manes and a distinct
yellowish rump patch.
Yellowstone is known world wide as a world class
trout fishery. Because of the increasing number
of anglers in the park, more restrictive regulations
have been adopted in Yellowstone.
These restrictions include: season opening/closing
dates, restrictive use of bait, catch-and-release
and number/size limits according to species.
A few places are closed to the public to protect
threatened and endangered
species, sensitive nesting birds, and to provide
scenic viewing areas for visitors seeking undisturbed
Guide services are
available for those that want to guarantee their success
and maxamize their catch.
Moose (Alces alces shirasi Nelson), the largest member
of the deer family, were reportedly very rare in
northwest Wyoming when Yellowstone National Park
in 1872. Subsequent protection from hunting and
wolf control programs may have contributed to increased
but suppression of forest fires probably was the
most important factor, since moose here depend
fir forests for winter survival.
Surveys in the
late 1980s suggested a total park population
of fewer than
1000 moose. Moose are commonly observed
in the park's southwestern corner along the
Bechler and Falls rivers, in the riparian
zones around Yellowstone Lake, in the Soda
Butte Creek, Pelican Creek, Lewis River, and Gallatin
and in the Willow Park area between Mammoth
Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states
where a population of wild bison has persisted since
prehistoric times, although fewer than 50 native bison
remained here in 1902. Fearing extinction, the park
imported 21 bison from two privately-owned herds, as
foundation stock for a bison ranching project that spanned
50 years at the Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone's Lamar
Valley. Activities there included irrigation, hay-feeding,
roundups, culling, and predator control, to artificially
ensure herd survival. By the 1920s, some intermingling
of the introduced and wild bison had begun. With protection
from poaching, the native and transplanted populations
increased. In 1936, bison were transplanted to historic
habitats in the Firehole River and Hayden Valley. In
1954, the entire population numbered 1,477. Bison were
trapped and herds periodically reduced until 1967, when
only 397 bison were counted parkwide. All bison herd
reduction activities were phased out after 1966, again
allowing natural ecological processes to determine bison
numbers and distribution. Although winterkill takes
a toll, by 1996 bison numbers had increased to about
Glistening under a thick blanket
of snow, winter in Yellowstone is a magical place teeming
and primal beauty, all without the usual tourist
crowds of summer. The Yellowstone's 10,000
hydrothermal features provide an eerie contrast
to Yellowstone's icy winter landscape. A snowmobile
visit to Yellowstone National Park will create
a treasured memory for a lifetime.
Hop on a snowcoach and leave the
over-snow driving to somebody else. Snowcoaches have been operating
in Yellowstone National Park since 1955 providing a
warm passage into Yellowstone's winter wonderland.
guided snowcoach tours and ski and snowshoe
shuttles are available at Mammoth Hot Springs,
Old Faithful Snow Lodge, West Yellowstone
and Flagg Ranch outside
the South Entrance.
Most of Yellowstone is backcountry and managed as wilderness;
many miles of trails are available for skiing. Track
is set only on a few trails. All unplowed roads and
trails are open to cross country skiing and showshoeing.
When skiing on unplowed roadways used by snowmobiles,
keep to the right to avoid accidents.
Most trails are marked with orange
metal markers attached to trees. Few streams have
venturing into the backcountry should carry a USGS
topographic map and a compass and know how to use
them. Even on a well-marked trail, it is easy to
get lost in a "whiteout" or blizzard.
Only skiers thoroughly familiar with the area should
attempt off-trail travel. When planning your trip,
get specific information on conditions from rangers
at a ranger station or visitor center
Old Faithful erupts more frequently than any of the other
big geysers, although it is not the largest or most
regular geyser in the park. Its average interval between
eruptions is about 91 minutes, varying from 65 - 92
minutes. An eruption lasts 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, expels
3,700 - 8,400 gallons (14,000 - 32,000 liters) of boiling
water, and reaches heights of 106 - 184 feet (30 - 55m).
It was named for its consistent performance by members
of the Washburn Expedition in 1870. Although its average
interval has lengthened through the years (due to earthquakes
and vandalism), Old Faithful is still as spectacular
and predictable as it was a century ago.
Tower Fall's 132-foot drop of Tower Creek, framed
by eroded volcanic pinnacles has been documented by
park visitors from the earliest trips of Europeans into
the Yellowstone region. Its idyllic setting has inspired
numerous artists, including Thomas Moran. His painting
of Tower Fall played a crucial role in the establishment
of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The nearby Bannock
Ford on the Yellowstone River was an important travel
route for early Native Americans as well as for early
European visitors and miners up to the late 19th century.