Wandering WY: Underrated Attractions in Yellowstone National Park
It is simply not possible to see absolutely everything when you visit Yellowstone National Park. Even if you spend a month or a year there you will never see it all! I've been living with the Park in my backyard since I was born and I still find new adventures there every time I visit. However, if you've been to the Park once, you've probably seen the highlight reel: Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pots, the Mud volcano, and Mammoth Hot Springs. So here is my list of Underrated Attractions in Yellowstone National Park.
Norris Geyser Basin
If you love the Fountain Paint Pots, this should be your next stop. My Grandma and I walked the Back Basin trail this last weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. From bubbling mud pots to sneezing geysers, this is one of those spots that will make Yellowstone seem like a wonderland. My favorite geyser was Emerald Geyser!
The Lamar Valley
Now the Lamar Valley is well known for wolf sightings, but I think it's underrated for its natural beauty and the bison herd. Even while sitting in my car this last weekend watching the bison herd I heard a couple of tourists ask a ranger if there were any more animals in the Park because all they had seen were the bison. Remember that these are massive animals who can move at 30 mph and could have gone extinct. The Native American tribes were able to each part of this animal to provide for their way of life! They're amazing, but once you've seen one it's easy to take them for granted. Another tourist told us that he had gotten so used to them around his campsite that he nearly was gored by one outside his tent!
I never stopped in this part of the Park before, but I absolutely loved it. The canyon is ruggedly beautiful as you drive toward the South Entrance. Watching the river flow out across the valley reaching for the mountains is serene and you can't miss the waterfall tucked back in a corner you might just miss if you're driving too fast!
The Golden Gate
This short stop on the road through Yellowstone toward the South Entrance from Fishing Bridge Junction is one that you will definitely miss out on if you're in too much of a hurry to get to the next "big thing". You cross this bridge along the edge of a cliff face and to your left, there is a pull-out and a waterfall. Initially, I stopped for the waterfall, but the true wonder of the Golden Gate is the bridge you just crossed. Rebuilt a few times with more modern engineering techniques and materials you feel as secure crossing this bridge now as you do driving through the rest of the park, but back in the 1800s when it was a wooden bridge it was a terrifying matter of life and death. Yet, dozens of heavy wooden stagecoaches crossed the bridge each day to show more Park visitors the wonders of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I don't know if I could have crossed this bridge back then!
Obsidian cliff is another stop you blink and just might miss. To the eye, this is just another cliff in Yellowstone with no particular value, but when you take the time to stop and explore you find there is much more to this not so ordinary cliff face. Obsidian is an opaque rock much like glass but stronger. The Native Americans used Obsidian in their weapons. It was a vital resource for their survival and economy as it was also widely traded. This Cliff that may look like just another rock face to you and I was absolutely priceless for its ample supply of Obsidian.
What do you think the most underrated attraction in Yellowstone is? How do you budget your time when visiting a National Park? Do you like to travel "off the beaten path"?
Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!