This post is part of Just Ahead’s Yellowstone Trip Planner—our guide to what you need to know to plan your trip to Yellowstone National Park. Click here to see the complete series. And be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Yellowstone before you head to the park.
Yellowstone is a massive national park, its 3,468 square miles teeming with geysers, grizzlies, and one gorgeous scene after another. Just Ahead’s smartphone audio tour guides travelers along famed Grand Loop Road in a giant figure eight through all of the the park’s many regions. But deciding where to go with limited time can be daunting. You could take several trips here and not see it all. Fortunately, we’re intimately familiar with every one of Yellowstone’s 310 miles of roadway and will tell you the sites you shouldn’t miss, plus a few lesser-known gems many visitors overlook.
Yellowstone’s Don’t-Miss Sights
Old Faithful Trails
Every Yellowstone visitor goes to Old Faithful, and sometimes it feels like all at once. We recommend escaping the crowds for a unique perspective on the area’s many thermal features at the Observation Point Trail, which offers a raven’s-eye view of the famed geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin. Printed guides for the Upper Geyser Basin trail system, including Observation Point, are available at the Old Faithful Visitor Center. You could easily spend an afternoon here touring some of the park’s most beautiful pools and watching geysers erupt.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwest corner of the park isn’t as world-famous as Old Faithful and its surrounding geyser basins, but it’s equally stunning. Raised boardwalks lead through steaming, pearly terraces that change shape and color every year like a living sculpture. The nearby village of Mammoth features a renovated visitor center inside historic Fort Yellowstone, a fascinating relic from the pre–National Park Service days when the US Army oversaw the park.
The drive between Lake Village and West Thumb leads along the shoreline of this massive mountain jewel of a lake, the largest high-elevation lake in North America. Just Ahead will point out the best places for lakeside lunches and short hikes, as well as a very cool side road that crosses a narrow sand bar with lake water on both sides.
Uncle Tom’s Trail
The Upper and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are among the park’s top highlights, and our favorite perspective on them is from Uncle Tom’s Trail. This one-of-kind, half-mile path descends 338 steps down the wall of the canyon to a platform where you can literally feel the thunderous power of Lower Falls.