Yellowstone is a national park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, which was established in 1872 by President Ulysses S Grant. It is especially known for its geothermal features such as the Old Faithful Geyser and its great variety of wildlife.
Travelling to Yellowstone
Before leaving home, remember that a travel visa is required to enter the United States. However, there is now another option aside from the usual route of going to the embassy in London, ESTA Visa. This is an online process that allows travellers from UK and all other participating countries under Visa Waiver Program to get to the US for up to 90 days at a time. For more information and an application visit . There are no airports directly near the park but the commonly used airport to travel there is Jackson Hole Airport. From there the park can be travelled to via one of five entrances depending on which part you want to stay at.
There are 12 camping grounds in Yellowstone and seven of them are operate by the National Park Service. The camps offer a variety of facilities and sites to see within a short distance.
Some examples including Grant Village Campground which is at the south-west edge of Yellowstone Lake and within ½ mile has stores and restaurants as well as pay showers and a coin laundry. Madison Campground is a centrally site location 14 miles from the West Yellowstone entrance and just 16 miles north of Old Faithful, sitting near the junction of three rivers, the Gibbon, Madison and Firehole.
What to See in Yellowstone
Over half the geothermal features on the planet are within the boundaries of the park including geysers, hot springs and mud spots. The 300 geysers make up two-thirds of all of those found on Earth. All of this is due to the underlying magma body beneath the park and the amazing amount of heat it generates. Added to this is the water which comes from the Yellowstone Plateau and when the two meets, the geothermal features are created.
The park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is one of the large remaining intact temperate zone ecosystems and had amazing wildlife. There are 67 different species of mammal that call the park home including grizzly and black bears, grey wolves and lynx. There are elk, mule deer, bison and moose as well as different types of sheep and introduced mountain goats.
Bird watching at the park has a history going back to 1872 and 330 species have been recorded in that time, with 148 known to nest there. This is due to the diversity of habitats found in the park and the changes in elevations making suitable homes for such a range of birds.
When to Visit Yellowstone
Yellowstone can see rapid changes in temperature and conditions so no matter when visiting, be prepared for all eventualities. Summer daytime temperatures around in the 70s and 80s at lower levels while the nights and high elevations can be below freezing and thunderstorms are common. During winter, temperatures range from 0-20 during the day and the lowest ever temperature in winter was -66F with average snow at 150 inches a year.
Spring and Fall can see variations from the 30-60sF during the day to below freezing at night and 12 inches of snow in one day is not uncommon. Therefore, when to visit really is a personal choice depending on what a visitor wants to see and experience in their stay.