There’s a place in the US that will blow your mind with its incredible natural wonders. A place where you can witness the power of a giant volcano.
Located mainly in Wyoming, with parts in Montana and Idaho, the place is Yellowstone. It covers over 3,400 square miles of diverse landscapes, from mountains and forests to valleys and rivers. But the most unique is its geothermal features, resulting from a giant volcano beneath the park.
Yellowstone is home to the world's largest concentration of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles. Constantly change and erupt, creating a dynamic and colourful visitor spectacle.
Some of the most famous geysers include Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes on average, and Steamboat, the tallest active geyser in the world. The most stunning hot springs include Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest in the US and display a rainbow of colours, and Morning Glory Pool, which has a deep blue hue and a delicate shape.
The volcanic activity in Yellowstone is not only fascinating to observe. Still, it is one of the few places on Earth where you can witness the effects of a supervolcano, which is a volcano that can produce eruptions thousands of times more potent than regular volcanoes.
Yellowstone has experienced three such eruptions in the past 2.1 million years, the last being 640,000 years ago. These eruptions have shaped the park's landscape and created huge craters or calderas covering a large park area. The most recent caldera formed 631,000 years ago and was followed by less explosive lava flows until 70,000 years ago.
The volcanic activity in Yellowstone is not over yet. The park is still considered an active volcano, showing signs of magma movement, seismic activity and ground deformation. Scientists monitor these indicators to assess the risk of future eruptions and learn more about supervolcanoes' behaviour. While there is no imminent threat of a significant outbreak, there is always a possibility of more minor eruptions or hydrothermal explosions that can occur at any time.
Above the ground
The park is home to hundreds of species of animals, including some of the largest and most iconic mammals in North America, such as bison, elk, moose, wolves, bears and cougars. The park also protects endangered species, such as grizzly bears and grey wolves, which have been reintroduced to the park after being extirpated by human activities. You can observe these animals in their natural habitats but must also respect their space and safety.
The first of its kind
Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant as the first national park in the world. This visionary act set a precedent for conserving natural and cultural resources. It inspired other countries to create national parks and protect their natural heritage. Today, there are more than 4,000 national parks around the world.
With so much to see and do in Yellowstone National Park, it can take time to decide where to start. Here are 10 must-sees that you should not miss when visiting this amazing place:
Old Faithful Geyser
Watch the most famous geyser in the world erupt with a jet of water and steam that can reach up to 185 feet high.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Marvel at the largest hot spring in the US. Its vivid colours range from blue to orange to green.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Admire the dramatic scenery of this 20-mile-long canyon that features waterfalls, cliffs and rock formations.
Spot some of the park's most diverse and abundant wildlife in this valley, often called "America's Serengeti".
Enjoy another great place for wildlife viewing along the Yellowstone River that hosts large herds of bison and elk.
Visit this stone archway that marks the original entrance to the park at Gardiner, Montana. It inscribes, "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people".
Boiling River Hot Spring
Relax in this natural hot spring that mixes with cold river water to create a comfortable temperature for bathing.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Explore this complex of terraces formed by hot water depositing minerals on the surface.
Blacktail Plateau Drive
Take this scenic 6-mile drive that offers views of meadows, forests and mountains along an unpaved road.
Walk along this trail that leads to colourful mud pots that bubble and gurgle like paint pots.
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