Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park © Scott Catron
The world's first national park, Yellowstone was established in 1872. Despite its popularity today, most of the park still remains an undeveloped wilderness of magnificent mountains, waterfalls, alpine lakes, and rivers. It is renowned for its geothermal wonders and abundance of wildlife. Spilling over into Wyoming and Idaho, the enormous park is situated on top of the Yellowstone Caldera, a collapsed volcanic crater that was formed 600,000 years ago and holds within it the greatest geothermal area in the world. This unique environment includes features such as exploding geysers, thousands of steaming fumaroles, hot springs, and bubbling mud pools. The park also includes one of the state's most popular attractions, Old Faithful, a geyser which draws thousands of tourists to witness its regular eruption of steaming water. Yellowstone's wildlife includes grizzlies, black bears, wolves, moose and large herds of bison and elk. The two narrow waterfalls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River cut a striking picture in the yellow-coloured rock that gives the park its name, with superb views and hiking trails for all abilities. Yellowstone Lake fills the eastern part of the caldera and offers opportunities for boating and fishing expeditions in summer. All places of interest are accessible along the loop roads, but the intensity of visitors in summer, especially between July and August, means that one needs to hike away from the main paths to experience the true wilderness of Yellowstone National Park.