Yellowstone National Park is known around the country for being the first national park, but also for its geysers. The first thing people want to do when they visit the park is see Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s main attraction. When I first starting working at Lake Yellowstone Hotel the first trip I took was to go see Old Faithful. Let me tell you, I have never been more disappointed by an attraction so hyped up about in my life. I waited an hour to see the geyser spew water up into the air and then it was over within seconds. Thats it. I drove 2 hours from Lake Yellowstone to see that? That is the moment when I decided I was not going to be a tourist. I live in the park. The park is my home for the summer and I am going to explore my home as much as I can. No more sitting on benches with a bunch of people to see a geyser spew water out. Once that was my mindset I made Yellowstone the best summer of my life. I got out of my comfort zone, was scared to death a points, and met so many amazing people along the way.
I am here to tell you my top favorite parts of Yellowstone National Park and if you ever visit, to never act like a tourist. Get out of your comfort zone and be adventurous to get the most out of your Yellowstone trip!
Here are my top 5 favorite spots of Yellowstone National Park:
1.) Avalanche Peak
The hike up Avalanche Peak is one of the harder hikes in the park. This is because it goes up 2,000 feet in elevation within a 2-mile radius. I did this hike 3 times during my stay in Yellowstone and it is one of my favorites. It is the type of hike where you can’t really talk with your buddies and are out of breath the whole time, but once you get to the top you realize why it was all worth it. The view is unreal. You can see all of the park including Lake Yellowstone and the Tetons.
The best thing about this hike is that you have to work to see the view, but once your to the top you forget how hard the hike was and honestly feel like you are on top of the world. The challenges throughout the hike make the view that much better. The last quarter-mile of the hike is basically climbing on rocks to get to the top. If you are up to the challenge you should do this hike. The view is definitely worth your while and then the hike back down is a breeze.
2.) Mystic Falls
Above is the photo I took during my hike and if that view doesn’t make you want to do this hike I don’t know what will. This spot in the park is so beautiful and the hike itself to get to the falls is not that difficult, but most tourists don’t do this hike because it is ranked ‘moderately strenuous’. Most tourists just drive around in their cars and take pictures, but you will not find this view from staying in your car. Its all about exploring and trying new and daring things. Seeing this view wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to get up close and personal in the falls. When you are with a group and watch out for each other it is okay to go off course and explore. Like I did in the picture below.
3.) Elephant Back
Elephant Back is the closest spot to where I was living in the park. I like right by Lake Yellowstone and from the top of the hike you can see the mountains, the lake, Lake Hotel and even my cabins that I lived in. This hike for me is in my favorites for one, it was so close to me and I was able to do it about 10 times during my summer in Yellowstone. Secondly at the beginning of the summer when I got there in May there were a lot of bear sightings, which for me was so exciting because I have never seen a bear in person before. From my cabin there would be a few times where a bear would be wandering around, which is terrifying, but also so exhilarating at the same time. When we would hike up Elephant Back I would always be with a group and we would have to keep talking loudly the whole time so that a bear would know we were there. We had bear spray with us and when you are loud and with a group of people bears usually stay clear of you. It was just that fear of ‘what if we crossed paths with a bear’ that made the hike so exciting. This hike has a great view where you can sit and have lunch or sun bath. Most tourists don’t ever do this hike, they usually just drive by the lake, but the view from the top of Elephant Back is one that everyone should experience during their yellowstone trip.
4.) 7-Mile Hole
This is a 10-mile hike. 5 miles to get down and 5 miles to get back up. During this hike I experienced wind, rain, hail, was hot then cold and sunshine to clouds. That all in one hike was insane. I was prepared for the elements, but never thought I would have to use all my gear. This hike is one where you are hiking down a canyon to get to the river.
This hike is a journey no doubt, but one worth experiencing. 10-miles is hard work and breaks are necessary, but few get to say they have gone from a top of a canyon to the bottom and lived to tell the tale! For this hike you need a lot of water and you need to be prepared for the elements. I think this spot in Yellowstone should be advertised more because its a beauty.
5.) Hell Roaring Creek
The name alone gets you amped up! Not many people were on this trail and that should be changed. So many things happened during this hike, it was amazing! I had to ford a river, twice. I saw a black bear and then I saw 2 rangers get off their horses and start running towards the black bear to scare it off. Side note, black bears are more timid and afraid so they will back down. Grizzly bears on the other hand will look at you running at them as a threat and attack. Seeing rangers scaring off a black bear from the trail is a memory I will never forget. Lastly, I have never seen more bones and carcasses during this hike. This is an adventurous hike that will be action packed. You are going to want your bear spray on this hike and a camera because the views are to die for.
I hope after reading this you want to go visit Yellowstone. There are so many hidden wonders of Yellowstone that not many people know about. I was lucky enough to live in the park for a full summer and got to really take advantage of all that this park has to offer. Remember, its time to explore and that it is okay to stray away from the path sometimes. There are so many adventures out there waiting for you. Get out and explore!
” We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”- author unknown