Yellowstone National Park: The Best Family Field Trip of a Lifetime

Yellowstone National Park provides families with the opportunity to spend time together, explore nature and learn about geology. Instead of children just learning about geology and volcanoes from textbooks, parents can take them to the world’s foremost volcanic hotspot.

Beneath Yellowstone lies a super volcano. Yellowstone is the creation of three different eruptions, which occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million and 640,000 years ago. The hot steam underneath this super volcano creates upwelling plumes within the mantle. The heat then melts the rocks and magma pools very close to the earth’s surface. This creates what we know as Yellowstone’s volcanic hotspots.

Scientists have recently estimated that the next eruption will not occur for another 1 to 2 million years. In fact, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory website has a website for constant monitoring.

Parents and children can learn abundant information by visiting Yellowstone National Park, including understanding seismic activity, exploring more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, 300 geysers, viewing the largest concentration of active geysers in the world, walking among active travertine terraces in Mammoth Hot Springs and seeing the sites of petrified trees formed by volcanic eruptions. The park’s highlights also include hot springs, steam vents, mudpots and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Seeing geologic wonders in person versus reading about them in student handbooks make huge differences in children’s lives. Parents and children are able to connect on both a personal and educational levels, and the fun of seeing wildlife in their natural habitats makes Yellowstone an interactive experience.

As an added bonus, Yellowstone Holiday is located outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Staying outside the park provides families with more bonding time and an escape from the everyday traffic within the boundaries of the park.

Yellowstone Holiday accommodates Yellowstone RV camping and offers Hebgen Lake lodging. As a full-service campground, they also have Hebgen lake marina, which features boat rentals. Hebgen Lake is renowned worldwide for fantastic trout fishing. Fishing is a superb family activity, as it teaches patience and sportsmanship.

Yellowstone Holiday is also centrally located to nature hikes, Quake Lake and other nearby historic areas. Yellowstone National Park is a fun family-friendly summer adventure, whether it is driving across country or flying into a nearby airport. This vacation is sure to not disappoint!


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What to do in West Yellowstone

The town of West Yellowstone is located just outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. A mere 15 minutes from Yellowstone Holiday, a West Yellowstone RV park and Hebgen Lake lodging resort, this area is surrounded by beautiful Montana.

West Yellowstone hails as an outdoor paradise, which is why anglers flock to the area to test their fly-fishing skills in both Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake. Hebgen Lake is nearly 15 miles long and four miles wide. It is a manmade lake retained by an earth-fill dam. The 1959 earthquake damaged the dam and the landslide created a barrier, which ultimately formed Quake Lake. Quake Lake measures 53 meters deep and the Madison Canyon Earthquake Area and Visitors Center features interpretive programs that explain the events surrounding the earthquake. Hebgen Lake is only 20 minutes west of West Yellowstone. This area has a healthy fish population, including rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout.

West Yellowstone also attracts bicyclists. They hold annual events, such as the West to Old Faithful Cycle Tour, which draws participants nationwide. West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park also offer access to hundreds of miles of trails, hiking, running and mountain biking. Tourists that are opposed to biking or hiking often take advantage of the areas many nearby byways and scenic driving tours, including the Madison Earthquake Area, Gallatin River, the Centennial Valley and north along Highway 191. During the late spring and early summer, bird watching is a popular activity. These routes are also great for viewing deer, moose, elk and big horn sheep.

West Yellowstone also boasts entertaining family activities. These include the IMAX Theater, which shows the fascinating video of Yellowstone and Native American life. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center features superb educational experiences for visitors and tourists that want to learn more about raptors, grizzly bears and wolves in their natural habitats. During the summer, the Discovery Center hosts concerts in the park, live theater and rodeos.

The Yellowstone Historic Center is located at the Union Pacific Depot. This highlights the history of early transportation and visitation through Yellowstone National Park. West Yellowstone also offers a self-guided historic walking tour. Green bear paws are printed on the sidewalks to mark the tour. The local Chamber of Commerce has a map that marks all 21 sites.

The town is also perfect for an evening of walking the streets, browsing the local shops and purchasing outdoors gear. The area also features several different restaurants that have local fare on the menu, including bison, elk and trout.


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Best Areas to Visit within Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park has four major areas or sections. It is easier to stay outside the park, avoiding traffic and enjoying Yellowstone Holiday accommodations on Hebgen Lake. They also offer a premiere RV park in Yellowstone, outside the West Entrance.

The Madison district is popular for spotting wildlife and flyfishing. This area is also home to Old Faithful, hot springs, geysers, steam vents, paint pots and fumaroles.

The Lake district includes Yellowstone Lake, fumaroles and hot springs. It is also an area popular for bear sightings.

The Canyon district has high elevations, which makes for excellent grazing meadows. Hayden Valley is home to abundant bison herds during August, which makes this an excellent attraction. The Canyon district is well known for deep canyons, waterfalls, stunning vistas, a high elevation mountain pass and wildlife, which includes elk and bears. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is nearly 20 miles long and runs from the Upper Falls to the Tower Falls area. The depth is between 800 to 1,200 feet and the width is approximately 1,500 to 4,000 feet. The canyon is a modern addition to the park and is no more than 10,000 to 14,000 years old.

The Norris district encompasses the Norris Geyser basin, a dynamic geothermal area that provides beautiful meadow scenery and views of the Gibbon River. The Norris Geyser Basin is the oldest and hottest thermal area in the park. It measures 459 degrees a mere 1,087 feet below the earth’s surface. The waters here are generally acidic, which is uncommon for geysers. The two most popular geysers are Steamboat Geyser and Echinus Geyser.

Mammoth district is the upper area of Yellowstone and includes the popular Norris Geyser Basin. This is a stunning geothermal basin and contains open meadow scenes, which are popular in the fall for the grazing elk herds. This area also features the ever-famous travertine terraces and is home to the Yellowstone Park headquarters, including the park’s historic buildings. The travertine formations can grow up to 12 inches per year and rapidly shift. The flow and location of springs can change daily, which means that each visit to Yellowstone National Park brings new sights to this area.

The Tower/Roosevelt district is well known for waterfalls, river scenery and wildlife. It also features past geologic evidence of volcanic eruptions. It is one of the best areas to see spring and winter wildlife.

Yellowstone National Park features several distinct areas, which make the park unique from any other area on earth.

For visitors planning their stay, Yellowstone Holiday is located outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone. They offer Yellowstone RV camping, Hebgen Lake lodging and exceptional activities, including Hebgen Lake boat rentals and fishing.


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Stop Taking Bison Selfies

Smartphones have revolutionized our lives, helping us easily capture photos, delete subpar quality photos, take movies and edit photos. However, the personnel working at Yellowstone National Park is rapidly learning that visitors want to take bison selfies.

A report recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined five bison incidents from the summer of 2015. The results indicated that people need to keep their distance from bison and stop trying to take bison selfies. Bison are wild animals and their instincts are to attack people that invade their spaces.

All of the bison attacks occurred when people failed to maintain the park’s required 75-foot distance rule. These incidents all occurred around geyser basins, trails or developed areas where people readily had access to bison, but did not abide by the park’s rules. Three of the people were within six feet of the bison, taking photos. In fact, during two of the three photo-related injuries, people had turned their backs to the bison, which is extremely dangerous. One person was taking a cell phone selfie, which greatly agitated the bison.

Yellowstone National Park is home to more than 5,000 wild bison. Adult male bison can weigh approximately 2,000 pounds and have recorded speeds that are faster than an Olympic sprinter. As with all wild animals, bison can be dangerous and unpredictable, especially when spooked.

The National Park Service distributed flyers, posts signs about the danger of bison and park rangers clearly explain the hazards of approaching wild animals. Park regulations are very clear about maintaining a distance of 300 feet from wolves and bears and 75 feet from other wildlife. However, an increasing number of visitors, including foreign tourists and first-time visitors, are either not heeding these warnings or intentionally ignoring them.

While Smartphones are perfect for casual photographers, they also lack zoom capacity, which is contributing to more people closely approaching wildlife.

Last year, approximately 4 million people visited Yellowstone National Park. As 2016 celebrates another year, Yellowstone is trying to thoroughly educate tourists about close encounters with wildlife, including safety-related issues.

Yellowstone Holiday is located outside of the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It provides excellent accommodations, including a Yellowstone RV campground, Hebgen Lake lodging and Yellowstone campgrounds.

This year, Yellowstone National Park is expected to have the same number, if not more, visitors than last year. Tourists should book their trip with Yellowstone Holiday early to ensure comfortable accommodations.


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Fishing at Hebgen Lake

Hebgen Lake, located just about 20 minutes west of West Yellowstone is known as ‘An Anglers Paradise’. Come experience the finest dry fly fishing in North America with rainbow and brown trout averaging around 14-20 inches long. With more than 16 miles long and up to 4 miles wide, there’s plenty of space for everyone.

Hebgen Lake is a Chironomid factory from mid May to late July. This hatch will help train the Hebgen trout to feed on top of the lake. The trout are accustomed to feeding on the surface once the Trico and Callibaetis hatch arrives. Spring is the best time for the finest dry fly fishing in the world. The main body of Hebgen Lake is best during the spring. The best access to finding the trout is either the North or West shore of the lake.

During July the first of the brood usually appears. In order to experience it, anglers need to be over the Callibaetis weed beds. Callibaetis hatch normally migrate throughout July and August in one location and gone emerging 2 weeks to another location. By mid July the first of the Trico clouds appear along with the Callicatis. These two hates will continue until September. Trico’s give the early bird anglers a reason to arrive early on the lake since they train the fish to be gulpers.

August is a good month for Hebgen Lake gulpers. It’s known to be the best place for consistent rising fish in the world. The reason there are large surface feeding trout id the Callibaetis spinners and August is known as spinner month.

Whether you’re a beginner or pro, Hebgen Lake is a great place for all kinds of fishers. Yellowstone Holiday Resort is located just off the shore of Hebgen Lake. They have cabins you can stay in or if you’re traveling in your RV, you can reserve one of their RV spots. They have a convenient general store just in case you forgot anything. Even your fishing license. Their marina has boats you can rent to go out onto the lake and fish. Just within minutes you can be launched and fishing the open water of Hebgen Lake or testing your skills on one of the many blue-ribbon streams or the world class Madison River as it flows west out of Yellowstone National Park and into Hebgen Lake.

Book your stay at Yellowstone Holiday Resort today and go fishing at Hedgen Lake. Spots fill up fast.


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Yellowstone National Park: New Grizzly Bear Regulations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are making headlines. They are proposing to remove grizzlies from the Endangered Species Act within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). This act is known as delisting. In 1975, grizzly bears were designated, threatened and/or listed with extinction.

Grizzlies have made an astounding recovery. The population has increased from 136 to approximately 700. Scientists however believe that the Yellowstone grizzly population has recovered and has ultimately reached its capacity for native grizzlies. This means that the efforts to help reduce conflicts with people and grizzlies have reached its maximum endeavor.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. In consultation with tribes, agencies, the public and states, they make all decisions related to listing and delisting the status of animals on the Endangered Species Act. The National Park Service helps to review any proposals the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes, but they do not make any decisions.

Delisting grizzly bears means that hunting would be legal outside the boundaries of the national parks provided it would fall within the state management plans. If grizzly bears are delisted, hunting will still be prohibited within the boundaries of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. However, surrounding states, such as Wyoming, Idaho and Montana may manage state bear hunts, just as they are permitted to do with other species, such as wolves, deer, elk and pronghorn antelopes. National Parks are requesting that states focus hunts on areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts and further away from park boundaries.

Overall, the management of bears will not change in any National Parks. The National Parks will continue to follow any long-term monitoring programs in place, including Bear Management Plans. The National Parks value the tens of million of dollars that wildlife viewing brings to the area. They are also very proud to be part of helping maintain the grizzly population and making sure that it thrives within the parks’ boundaries.

Always practice bear safety to help reduce the chances of encountering a bear while in the park. This includes checking with a visitor center or backcountry office about recent bear activity before setting out for any hikes.

Travelers should also know what to do if they unexpectedly encounter a bear, which also includes taking precautions and looking for scat and fresh tracks.

West Yellowstone campgrounds offer overnight accommodations outside the park. Yellowstone Holiday also offers a Yellowstone RV park and Hebgen Lake lodging.


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Historical and Scientific Facts about Yellowstone National Park

  • Yellowstone encompasses 3,472 square miles, which equals a total of 2,221,766 acres. It also occupies three states: Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
  • Yellowstone is a designated World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve.
  • Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake in North America at the highest elevation of over 7,000 feet.
  • Many visitors wonder what the “rotten egg” smell is at some of the mud volcanoes. It comes from hydrogen sulfide, meaning sulfur, which also gives these areas their gray colors.
  • Native Americans used Obsidian Cliff for centuries to quarry obsidian for tools and trade. Obsidian from this site has been found a far east as Ohio. Today, Obsidian Cliff is a National Historic Monument.
  • At 28,000 square acres, or 44 square miles, Yellowstone is the largest complete intact temperate ecosystem in the entire world.
  • Yellowstone has the largest, free-roaming herd of bison in the world.
  • Henry Teller, the Secretary of the Interior, officially banned hunting within Yellowstone in 1883.
  • The 47-mile road east from Mammoth to Tower-Roosevelt junction to the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone is the only highway open through the winter.
  • NASA and geologist Bob Christiansen worked together using high-altitude photographs to explore Yellowstone’s massive caldera and eruption that occurred more than 640,000 years ago. This eruption covers more than half of Yellowstone’s land mass.
  • The tallest and most predictable geyser at Yellowstone is the Grand Geyser. Climbing to 200 feet, this geyser blows twice daily for an average of 12 to 20 minutes.
  • In 1988, more than 51 separate fires burned more than 36% of the park, equivalent to 800,000 acres. Today, the seedlings have grown back, but remnants of these fires are still visible in some areas.
  • The Yellowstone River remains the longest undammed river in the continental 48 states at 692 miles.
  • The oldest standing building in Yellowstone is Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which dates back to 1889.
  • As a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, John Colter, was the first Caucasian to see Yellowstone in 1807.
  • Archeologists believe that the first human presence in Yellowstone dates to more than 11,000 years ago. Scientists found an obsidian spear, which gave them this healthy clue.
  • Yellowstone Lake is home to the largest population of cutthroat trout in North America.

For visitors to the area, it is important to book stays early. Yellowstone National Park attracts millions of visitors annually. Yellowstone Holiday is located outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone. They offer Yellowstone campgrounds, West Yellowstone RV Parks and Hebgen Lake cabin rentals.


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Mind-blowing Sights in Yellowstone National Park

By Anna Gentry

I have visited Yellowstone National Park three times in three separate decades. Yellowstone’s sights and wonders are never monotonous, always leaving me awe-struck and longing for more. Highlighted below are six sights that are guaranteed to keep you returning to Yellowstone decade after decade.

  • Norris Geyser Basin – This miraculous geothermal area was formed around 100,000 B.C. It is America’s oldest continuously active geothermal area and is the hottest geyser basin within all of Yellowstone. I know I may be a science and history geek, but just knowing I have visited a natural wonder that has not ceased to disappoint, producing geothermal activity for thousands of years just blows me away. Quite simply, there is no other place on earth quite this fantastic.
  • Boiling River – The Boiling River flows into the Gardiner River, where hot and cold-water mix into pools along the river’s edge. This is one of the very few places within the park’s boundaries where it is safe to swim. I remember the first time I saw this river. The roaring boil of aquamarine waters that merge with the cool river to create nature’s ideal hot tub is enchanting, especially considering the backdrop attracts wild antelope, elk and bighorn sheep. This is the height of nature.
  • Old Faithful – I have participated in the stadium-style seating at Old Faithful twice. The last time, I took the trek to Observation Point. The views are stunning, the crowds are obsolete and there is no other place I will ever view Old Faithful again. The panoramic views of the entire geyser basin are peace, tranquil and just as nature intended this area for viewing – in complete peaceful silence. While Old Faithful is commercialized, it is still a necessary must see.
  • Grand Prismatic Spring – If there is ever a picture that captures 1,000 words, it is a photo of Grand Prismatic Spring. As a child, I would lie for hours and look at nature and history books. Grand Prismatic Spring had a way of drawing me in to its clear aquamarine waters, deep crevices and brilliant rainbow tones. My imagination would soar and I would try to connect all the dots, thinking a puzzle would emerge. Seeing this spring in person is simply visiting a work of art. The captivating colors blend and the deep caverns are hypnotic. The clear pools of water pull you in, as your body feels both elated and drawn into a meditative trance.
  • The Lamar Valley – I love animals so visiting Lamar Valley has always been high on my list. Every visit is different. Sometimes I have only seen abundant herds of bison, while other times I have captured pictures of bighorn sheep tucked high in the mountains. Full of wildlife, this is also bear country, so keep your eyes open.
  • The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – A remarkable sight, this colorful canyon is well worth the 2-1/2 mile hike that affords spectacular views of waterfalls that plunge deep into the canyon’s river.

For affordable West Yellowstone camping or Yellowstone RV park options, visit Yellowstone Holiday.

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Practice Leave No Trace in Yellowstone National Park

For more than 144 years, visitors have been enjoying the pristine beauty of Yellowstone National Park. To help keep the park intact for future generations, Leave No Trace offers the following recommendations.

  • Yellowstone National Park has infrequent stopping areas for drinks and food. Be sure to bring enough supplies for the days’ adventures.
  • Always read up any park rules and regulations, which includes having a map handy. Never rely on using a cellular device, as many remote areas do not have signals.
  • Always avoid spreading invasive species. This may include sticking to durable surfaces, or checking out the bottom of boats or float tubes before fishing.
  • If walking on a trail, avoid stepping off the designated trail area. Damage to delicate wildflowers or vegetation can cause them to not grow back, which can seriously damage the ecosystem.
  • It is important to always respect rules and property by traveling or walking on designated trails.
  • Help keep parks clean. Always dispose of garbage, wrappers and plastic. This makes parks clean and helps ensure that animals do not eat items that could hurt their digestive systems.
  • As always, if you pack it in, pack it out!
  • Never put food, waste or soap in any water sources. This can harm animals and fish.
  • Never take physical souvenirs. Take photographs instead. Souvenirs or other physical mementos take pieces of the natural environment, leaving little for animals.
  • Do not carve into trees or damage living plants.
  • Always check fire regulations if staying overnight. If fire rings exist, keep fires small. Never burn food or trash, and avoid transporting wood from other locations. Foreign wood could contain diseases or other non-native insect species.
  • Wildlife should not consume human food. It encourages habituation, which can create many issues. If animals become too friendly with humans, this can cause required relocation or necessitate them being put down.
  • Always bring binoculars to view wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
  • Never feed or approach wildlife. This is strictly prohibited.
  • Store scented and food items securely to avoid attracting animals.
  • Always be considerate of other visitors.
  • Avoid taking up large trail spaces and allow faster groups to pass.
  • Try to be quiet and respect nature.

Yellowstone Holiday offers a peaceful retreat from the Yellowstone National Park crowds. They are located outside the West Entrance to the park and offer Hebgen Lake cabin rentals, Hebgen lake camping and a West Yellowstone RV park.


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Yellowstone’s Breaking April News

The UFO community has just released an alert that Yellowstone National Park is a top-secret underground alien base. With grainy footage in hand, conspiracy forums have released images that have gone viral in their communities.

According to conspiracy theorists, in late February 2016, a glowing orb flew across the sky near Old Faithful. Only moments later, a green flash of light appeared. The green flash of light lit up the area around Old Faithful for several seconds. There are no first-hand confirmations that comic legend Green Lantern made an appearance.

According to UFO experts, it was impossible for this extraterrestrial light to be created by humans, streetlights, car lights or walkway lights. Additionally, nothing is lit up around the geyser mounds after dark, unless it is possible for all the tourists’ lost flashlights to start their own rave parties.

With Yellowstone having no threat of an imminent eruption, conspiracy theorists say this light was not the result of any increased geologic activities. However, some skeptics believe this light could have been a streaking meteor.

However, the alien and UFO community is insistent that an alien UFO or spaceship crashed. They refer back to the park’s recent mysterious events, strange lights and the footage showing a UFO exploding over park territory. Please note that no animals have reported any injuries in the making of these films.

Conspiracy theorists are insistent there is a large government-UFO base beneath Old Faithful, which is why UFO hunters regularly see strange lights at nighttime. They also claim that is impossible for Yellowstone to experience so many reoccurring random fireballs.

Most of the UFO community believes that the alien base in Yellowstone is a joint government-alien project that also links to Area 51 in Nevada.

These conspiracy therapists also claim that there is a large cave in the northern boundary of the park, nicknamed “American Pompeii,” which houses ancient human cave dweller and animal species artifacts. They claim the cave includes pieces of a flying saucer and part of a Yeti toe.

The government has no comment on these rumors, nor have they substantiated any of the information in this article.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

For visitors that do want to experience Yellowstone, Yellowstone Holiday offers the luxuries of West Yellowstone RV parks, Hebgen Lake lodging and abundant family-style amenities.

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