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Yellowstone. This is a must see attraction. If you are anywhere near this area you must make at least a couple of days free to go see at least some of this wonderous place.

I will not try to list everything there is to see and do, I'll just try and give a flavour with a few words and pictures. There is a wealth of information on the web which I will not duplicate here. If your time at Yellowstone is to be limited to only a couple of days then research and preparation is a must or you will miss something you really wanted to see.

I knew we would see the famed geothermal features but I had not anticipated the wildlife.

This photo of part of the heard of buffalo that live in the park was taken out of the van window. Its indescribable looking out over the broad grassy valley on the east side of the park and seeing this vast heard of buffalo wading through the river or crossing the road.

We also saw a fleeting glimpse of a bear, many elk and deer and a baby moose and its mother playing in a meadow. Absolutely magical.

This view of the grand canyon of the yellowstone (right) shows why the local indians named this place yellowstone - see the colour of the rocks on the canyon side.

If you look carefully at the canyon side on the left hand side of this picture, you can also see two layers of igneous rocks formed during the violent geological past that have left this area with all the geothermal features.

I couldn't talk about Yellowstone and fail to mention Old Faithfull (left). An absolute must see for all park visitors. It is found just near Old Faithfull Lodge (surprisingly enough) and the Lodge itself is well worth a look inside. This is the worlds ultimate log cabin !

What I would now like to do is to highlight some of the practicalities of planning a visit to Yellowstone. The park has a gigantic loop road with a connecting road in the middle making a figure of eight. The outside of this figure eight is around 140 miles long and with traffic, narrow roads and speed restrictions, you are looking at probably 4 hours driving just to get round. If you add onto this 4 hours a reasonable stop at all of the unmissable attractions plus some time to eat and you pretty quickly run out of hours in a day. For this reason I would allow at least two days to do the loop road and all the attractions on it. I would also recommend 2 different places to stay each night so that you start out in a different position on the loop each day.

My recommended itinery having been there twice and done it different ways would be as follows :-
Start out early from Cody and stop at Pahaska for breakfast/brunch just outside the park entrance (Buffalo Bills old hunting lodge). After eating there, work your way up the eastern side of the park seeing all the attractions. Stay overnight in Mammoth Hot Springs or Gardiner just outside the north entrance to the park.
Next day see Mammoth Hot Springs and then work your way down the west side of the park loop seeing everything along the way and stop the night at the Old Faithful Inn.
The next day see everything by foot around the Old Faithful area before leaving the park to go south to Jackson.
Of course the opposite of this route works just as well.

I mention staying in the Park (Mammoth Springs and Old Faithful Inn), but if you want to do this, you will have to book rooms probably over 8 months earlier in my experience. If you do not stay, as I said before, you must go into the Old Faithful Inn and have a look around. I can truly say that seeing inside this Inn for the first time was one of the most jaw dropping moments I have had during my travels around the USA.

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