Yellowstone national park

When to visit

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What to do

  • Noteworthy
  • Worth the detour
  • Must see

Yellowstone - WyomingYellowstone National Park is well known for its colourful hot springs, powerful geysers and impressive canyon.

But it is also an important wildlife reserve, where it is possible to watch bison, grizzly bears and wolves.

Did you know that the park is actually an active volcano? The next eruption is expected in 1,000 to 10,000 years: that should give you enough time to enjoy your visit to the park ;-)

* = interesting   ** = worth a detour   *** = worth a trip

If you only have one day to visit the park, your best option is to drive around the Grand Loop Road*. This iconic route will take you past the park's most striking geysers and hot springs. You will also drive through Hayden Valley, a prime spot for wildlife viewing.

From Madison (West entry), drive south in the direction of Old Faithful:

Grand prismatic - YellowstoneYour first stop should be Grand Prismatic Spring. With its vibrant colours, Grand Prismatic is the most stunning hot spring in the park. Tip: the hill behind Grand Prismatic provides a stunning view from above (accessible from the Fairy Falls Trail parking area).

One of the park's star attractions is Old Faithful, named for the regularity of its eruptions which generally occur every hour or two (enquire at the Visitor Center for approximate eruption times). This spectacular geyser shoots columns of hot water more than 50 metres into the air.

Old Faithful geyserTime permitting, walk the boardwalk trail through Upper Geyser Basin to colourful Morning Glory Pool**.

The Grand Loop Road continues along Yellowstone Lake to Lake Village. From there it heads north, following the Yellowstone River into Hayden Valley.

Hayden valleyHayden Valley is the best sector of the park for wildlife viewing. It is common to come across bison and moose along the road. Grizzly bears are most frequently seen in spring and early summer. Pay attention and keep your camera close at hand!

As you continue to make your way north, stop in Canyon Village* to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Grand canyon de YellowstoneThe best view of the canyon is from Lookout Point**, which is also very easy to reach. There is a parking area close by, making it the ideal viewpoint for families. 

If you have the time (and energy), Brink of the Lower Falls*** is a more spectacular 1-hour roundtrip hike that leads to a platform right at the top of the falls. The 180 metre elevation change can be tiring on the way back.

If you still have time after the wonders of the Grand Loop Road, pay a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs north of Norris.

Mammoth Hot Springs is a complex of hot springs on terraces made up of travertine deposits, where heat-loving microorganisms create tapestries of colour in the warm water. The must-see section of Mammoth Hot Springs is the Lower Terraces area** with its Palette Spring***; if you want to hike through the lower terraces, it will take you about 2 hours.

Where to eat

  • $ Inexpensive
  • $$ Moderate
  • $$$ Upscale
  • $$$$ Fine dining


For your trip to Yellowstone National Park, it's a good idea to pack a picnic lunch and bring snacks and drinks because, as is the case in many of the more remote national parks, the park's restaurants are frequently expensive and not necessarily of the best quality. All Yellowstone National Park restaurants and cafeterias are managed by two competing companies (Xanterra and Delaware North).

Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room ($$$)
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel stands on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Opened in 1891, it is the park's oldest restaurant. The dinner menu is creative and upscale, with unique dishes featuring fresh fish, lamb, duck, quail and game such as bison, as well as at least one vegetarian entrée. The emphasis is on sustainable cuisine using locally sourced organic ingredients. Wines from California, Oregon, and Washington predominate on the wine list. Reservations are not needed for breakfast or lunch, but they are essential for dinner.

Lake Village Road, 1 mile south of Fishing Bridge Village, Yellowstone  307-344-7311


Cassie’s Supper Club ($$)
Cassie’s is the type of classic truck stop you would expect to find in the West: great cuts of beef, four bars and a typical western decor with taxidermy, antelope skulls and everything cowboy-related. A former brothel, Cassie’s is now an upscale restaurant and dance club. In addition to steak grilled to perfection, the menu features seafood, fish, pasta and chicken, as well as a wide array of specialty drinks. In the “Buffalo” bar, a 20-foot-long mural depicts horses, cowboys and shootouts. The legendary dance floor rocks to the sound of country music, with live bands every evening in the summer.

214, Yellowstone Avenue, Cody  307-527-5500


Cafe Madriz ($$)
Café Madriz brings the authentic taste of Spanish cuisine to Montana. The owner and chef, Elena de Diego creates every dish from scratch: appetizers, hot and cold tapas, main dishes and desserts. Enjoy a variety of authentic dishes made with fresh ingredients and imported products such as Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and chorizo. Open from May to September.

311, Canyon Street, West Yellowstone  406-646-9245

Road trip

  • West
  • Road Trip
  • 15 days
$1558 / adult



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