West Yellowstone’s IMAX Theater Attraction

West Yellowstone offers several outstanding attractions to guests visiting this worldwide geologic wonder.

As a regular three-time visitor to Yellowstone National Park and someone who has personally witnessed the geologic changes within this majestic park, I highly recommend visiting the Yellowstone IMAX Theater located in West Yellowstone.

This is a perfect venture for starting any Yellowstone tour. In fact, I recommend staying in West Yellowstone, as the West Entrance offers abundant wildlife and the area outside the park features Hebgen Lake campgrounds, West Yellowstone RV camping and even an excellent fishing area off Hebgen Lake marina.

Settling in before a full day in Yellowstone helps restore energy levels and allows visitors to map out areas of interest. When visiting the IMAX Theater, visitors gain a new appreciation for this ancient land, giving them insight into the cultural history that draws from the land’s geothermal powers.

The film synopsis from “Yellowstone,” the documentary is insightful and gives visitors a captivating summary of how Yellowstone’s history shapes the future of this grand park.

Movie producers’ synopsis includes, “Soar over majestic Yellowstone National Park and plunge deep into its beauty and history. The grand panorama of changing seasons in America’s oldest and largest national park provides a stunning backdrop as ‘Yellowstone’ explores the history of man’s presence in this ever-changing land.”

I have personally viewed this astounding video twice and have left the theater awestruck and extremely impressed by the perfectionism, time, devotion and historical accuracy and research that went into this remarkable documentary. It literally bestows a completely new appreciation for Yellowstone upon viewers, giving them the ability to not only see the geothermal beauty, but also understand the Native American history and the settlers of early pioneers in this area.

Visitors can walk the same paths that famous Native Americans and pioneers once did, understand the values of this special geothermal region and appreciate the state of mind of animals.

The Yellowstone IMAX Theater also has a variety of superb memorabilia so guests can purchase souvenirs, gifts and paintings, allowing them to bring home a small piece of the beauty of this great land.



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Spring and Summer Activities in West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone offers plenty of entertainment for visitors this spring and summer. Whether guests are experiencing the wonders of Yellowstone National Park or are planning to take an excursion back in time through West Yellowstone, here is what is on the calendar this spring and summer.

  • West Yellowstone Historic Walking Tour – This free interactive walking tour is self guided and allows visitors to relive life in early West Yellowstone. It starts at the Green Bar Paw Trail, which features paintings on the sidewalks that help guide visitors toward the next site. Maps are available at the local Chamber of Commerce and 21 sites are included on the walking tour. There is also a complimentary map online. Since these tours are self-guided, they are available daily.
  • May 10 Early Season Hebgen Lake Fishing Contest – Mother’s Day through Father’s Day, people can enter their biggest fish caught in Hebgen Lake to Kirkwood Resort. Contestants are also able to take photos using a tape measure or other measurable object with a time-stamp. Winners will be announced on Father’s Day with special prizes being awarded.
  • Yellowstone Historic Center Museum Opening Day – The museum reopens May 16, 2015. The museum features a variety of stagecoaches, buses, trains, snow machines that once transported visitors to the park. There will be a new exhibit unveiled this year – the Panama Pacific International Exposition, Yellowstone and the Union Pacific Railroad. A reception begins at 5PM at the museum.
  • Earthquake Lake Visitor Center Opens for the Season – Quake Lake measures five miles long and the lake is stocked yearly with brown and cutthroat trout. The visitor center highlights a Memorial Boulder with a plaque that is dedicated to the 28 people that died and the events explaining the earthquake. The center reopens May 22 and is open daily 10AM to 6PM.
  • Experiencing Wildlife in Yellowstone Workshop – This workshop includes interactive demonstrations conducted by park rangers to help teach visitors about local animals and how to watch wildlife watching experiences.
  • Explore Yellowstone! With a Yellowstone Park Ranger – Open May 25th through August 31st, visitors can meet with park rangers at the West Yellowstone visitor Information Center.
  • Yellowstone Nature Connection – Located on the Historic Madison Ranger Station, children ages six years and up can learn about smokejumpers, fire ecology, tools, parachutes, equipment, physical fitness, and much more. Open Sunday through Wednesday and Friday 10AM and 3PM and Thursday and Saturday 3PM and 7PM. This program is open May 27 through September 30.
  • Evening Program with A Yellowstone Park Ranger – Park rangers offer illustrated programs highlighting Yellowstone’s natural wonders. This event runs June 3 through August 29, Tuesday and Friday at 7PM.

These events are nearby Yellowstone RV campgrounds and Hebgen Lake RV park. Hebgen Lake cabins are also nearby, which are comfortable for extended stays to West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park.



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A How to Guide: Planning a Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park is necessary; otherwise, visitors may miss important sites. To help visitors best plan their wilderness adventure, this helpful guide provides systematic advice.

  • Entrances – There are five entrances into Yellowstone National Park. The North Entrance is near Gardiner, Montana. The Northeast Entrance is near Cooke City. The East Entrance is near Cody, Wyoming. The South Entrance is near Jackson, Wyoming. The West Entrance is near West Yellowstone.
  • When – Deciding when to go is also important. During the wintertime, most of the roads are closed, except the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance. Most visitors plan their trips during July or August.
  • Reservations – To save money stay outside the park, visitors can call Yellowstone Holiday, which is located near the West Entrance. They offer Yellowstone RV camping and Hebgen Lake cabins. Located on the shores of Lake Hebgen, this area also offers superb flyfishing.
  • Sites – There are so many sites within the park, it is important that visitors determine what sites they want to prioritize.
    • Old Faithful – The Old Faithful area has several other geysers, which are included in the Upper Geyser Basin. It is also nearby the Midway Geyser Basin and the Lower Geyser Basin.
    • Madison – Firehole Canyon Drive is along the Firehole River. The Firehole Falls offers a swimming area, which is popular in July and August. It is also nearby the Artist Paint Pots, which are colorful and are a mere one-mile hike.
    • Norris – Among the hottest thermal areas in Yellowstone, the Norris Geyser Basin includes two sections: the Porcelain Basin and the Black Basin.
    • Tower-Roosevelt – Tower Fall features a 132-foot drop, which also includes a petrified tree.
    • Mammoth – Mammoth Hot Springs is an interesting specimen that is sometimes filled with water and is sometimes dry. The Upper Terrace is viewable from the road and the Lower Terrace is seen from a walkable boardwalk.
    • Canyon – This encompasses the Yellowstone Falls and Hayden Valley, which is known for having herds of wild bison.
  • Activities – Visitors should plan what types of activities they are interested in when visiting Yellowstone. This may include bicycling, boating, hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing.
  • Grand Tetons – South of Yellowstone are the Grand Tetons, which are beautiful and lead to Jackson, Wyoming.

Yellowstone Holiday offers offsite Yellowstone campgrounds, which are a great point for exploring Big Sky, Montana, and other nearby areas.



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Yellowstone Offers Exclusive Home for Rare Plants

Yellowstone National Park has distinctive microclimates that are created by the geothermal hot springs, thermal features and fumaroles. Yellowstone is the only area on earth that is home to the sand verbena, sulfur wild buckwheat and Ross’ bentgrass.

Most visitors to Yellowstone rarely witness the beauty of these rare, unique plants. Important for the park’s environment, these plant species only grow in certain areas of the park.

Unknown to most people, Yellowstone is home to at least 1,300 species of vegetation. Scientists are still amazed that after such dramatic cataclysmic changes and lava flows that so many hardy plants were able to repopulate such a desolate landscape. This number also includes hundreds of wildflowers, 218 non-native species and seven species of conifers.

Scientists do not understand why these plants are here, which makes them more interesting. Unlike animals that are always on the move, plants stay put, which makes it easier for scientists to find and locate these rare species.

For example, the sand verbena is so rare that it only grows in a single 1.5-acre area along the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Thriving in warm soil, this plant loves the thermal environment in this small area. Ross’s bentgrass is only a mere few inches tall and prefers the areas around the Shoshone Geyser Basin, specifically along the Firehole River drainage. This plant prefers “vapor dominated sites”, such as the cracks in thermal areas near the hot springs, as it requires just the right amount of moisture and warmth to create a natural greenhouse.

Sulfur buckwheat prefers the geyser basins along the West Entrance of the park. It is still up for debate about the specific varieties and how they differ from other wild sulfur buckwheats in the region.

The whitebark pine is an important food sources for grizzly bears and help control erosion. Additionally, it is resistant to the mountain pine beetle. Scientists are still studying how this pine can help, especially after wildland fires.

Yellowstone Holiday is a West Yellowstone RV park that offers 36 RV sites with full hookups, which includes electricity 20/30/50 amp, water and sewer). They are open May 15 through September 30, so visitors to the area should consider booking their stays early.

Located on the shores of Lake Hebgen, they also offer Hebgen Lake cabins, which includes four different types and styles of cabins, which are ideal for couples or families.



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Top Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park

Taking a road trip is part of the all-time great American adventure. When traveling across country to visit Yellowstone National Park, there are several sites for people to stop and see.

  • Virginia City, Montana – This old mining town perfectly represents life in the Old West. Built after the 1863 gold strike, this city served all nearby gold boomtowns. Now empty, this ghost town transports visitors to the late 1800s.
  • Wildlife – Visitors can see native animal activity in a small region. Abundant sightings include buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, moose, bears, coyotes, herons, wolves and much more.
  • The Yellowstone Arch – The North Entrance of the park features a stunning arch that is clearly visible for more than two miles. It was originally dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and states, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
  • Yellowstone Geysers – Featuring more than 10,000 thermal features, the park includes mud pots, hot springs, geysers and fumaroles.
  • Testicle Festival – Generally held in August, Montana offers Rocky Mountain Oysters at the Rock Creek Lodge. This festival features key chains, t-shirts, mugs and deep fried beef testicles.
  • Boardwalks – Originally used to help make sure that human and animal traffic did not mix, today these boardwalks are a time-honored tradition. The boardwalks lead visitors around Geyser Basins, offering access to stunning and unique geothermal regions and sights.
  • Mount Washburn – The tallest area in the park, the trail to Mount Washburn features a fire lookout station that offers views of the entire area of the park. It also includes sighting of Bighorn sheep and grizzly bear sightings. The trail is considered one of the best hikes within the park and offers superb views of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
  • The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – This canyon features several historic hiking viewpoints and overlooks, two waterfalls and stunning colorful canyon walls.
  • Dinosaurs in Bozeman – The Museum of the Rockies is a Federal Repository of fossils that includes the largest dinosaur collection in the world. The collection also features historic photographs from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The national treasures include Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils and much more.
  • Grand Tetons – Just south of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons tower over Jackson and Jenny Lake.

Just outside the entrance to West Yellowstone is Yellowstone Holiday. This fun-filled retreat offers West Yellowstone RV parks, Hebgen Lake cabin rentals and Yellowstone campgrounds.



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Top Issues Facing Today’s National Parks

There are many issues facing today’s national park systems.

  1. Untold Stories – Most national parks are associated with visual images of dramatic areas, such as the Grand Canyon, but nearly two-thirds of the national parks systems were designated as such to protect cultural and historic resources. These areas, such as colonial Boston, are truly missing from America’s culture and are rapidly becoming untold stories among today’s youth.
  2. History – National parks not only protect the lands, but they also protect the historic buildings within the parks’ lands. However, many of these buildings are in significant need of repair.
  3. Wildlife Management – As areas around parks become more developed, species within the parks’ boundaries that once migrated in and out of the parks’ corridors can no longer move about freely to feed, mate or migrate, which is making it more difficult for some species to survive.
  4. Foreign Invaders – Non-invasive species are rapidly destroying many parks, as they can hitchhike on airplanes or boats. If not controlled, invasive species can easily cause native species to become extinct. In fact, more than 6,500 non-native invasive species have been discovered in U.S. national parks. More than 70% of these numbers are plants, which have ultimately encroached on more than 7 million acres.
  5. Adjacent Development – Mines that are located near national parks effect the water quality, parks’ environment and clear air, which in turn effects the wildlife within the park.
  6. Climate Change – As the earth’s climate continues to rapidly change, glaciers are melting away, fire seasons are continuing longer and landscape is shifting.
  7. Water Issues – Many parks are experiencing more droughts these days, which are dramatically affecting aquatic species.
  8. Air Pollution – Air quality poses severe hazards as it can contaminate water, air and even helps poisonous plants thrive.
  9. Transportation Troubles – Many national parks are underfunded, which is posing problems with road disrepair. Many repairs are under way, but the parks’ budgets are backlogged, which is causing more problems for travelers and visitors.
  10. Visitor Experiences – As more visitors flood parks, overcrowding is having negative impacts on park environments. Snowmobiles visit Yellowstone National Park in the winter months and there is a fine line between recreation and preserving the park’s delicate ecosystem.

Yellowstone Holiday, located just outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, offers an excellent alternative to staying in overcrowded park campgrounds. Yellowstone Holiday is located on the shores of Lake Hebgen, which is known for excellent dry flyfishing. Yellowstone Holiday offers Hebgen Lake cabins, West Yellowstone RV campgrounds and is a premiere destination for scenic views.




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Yellowstone’s Top Backcountry Hiking Trails

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for having more than 92 trailheads, which give hikers access to more than 1,100 miles of hiking trails. As an added bonus, backcountry-use permits are free and available at ranger stations or visitors centers.

The following rate as the top favorite day hikes within Yellowstone National Park.

  1. Lone Star Geyser Trail – This hike or bike road is excellent for families. It is located along an old service road that leads to a geyser that erupts approximately every three hours. Visitors can start at Kepler Cascades parking area, which is southeast of the Old Faithful visitor’s area. The hike is five miles and is considered easy.
  2. South Rim Trail – This interconnected web of trails highlights the Yellowstone Canyon, following the Lower Falls to the breathtaking scenic Artists Point, past Lily Pad Lake and then returns to Uncle Tom’s trailhead and Clear Lake. The total hike is approximately 3.5 miles and is considered easy for beginners.
  3. Mt. Washburn – This strenuous uphill hike begins at Dunraven Pass trailhead and climbs towards a mountaintop fire tower. The ultimate view is stunning: a 360-degree view over the park, allowing for bighorn sheep sightings. The total hike is 6.4 miles and is moderate.
  4. Elephant Back Mountain – This Mountain requires an 800-foot climb that begins near Lake Hotel and ends at a panoramic viewpoint over Yellowstone Lake. The total hike is 3.5 miles and has a moderate difficulty level.
  5. Fairy Falls – Visitors can climb off a trail over the Grand Prismatic Spring, hiking through a lodgepole forest to the Fairy Falls and then continue to the beautiful Imperial Geyser. This hike is only six miles and is easy for beginners.

Yellowstone Holiday is located outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Featuring tremendous views of the mountains and superior fishing on Hebgen Lake, these convenient Yellowstone campgrounds are located near excellent hiking, walking and biking trails.

The Red Canyon Road is a mere half-mile from Yellowstone Holiday. This area provides abundant access to several trails and feeder streams and is the main entrance to the trailhead for hikers interested in exploring Mount Hebgen.

Avid mountain bikers will enjoy this area as this base camp, as they can ride along the three-mile Red Canyon Road. More advanced bikers can bike up Mount Hebgen for highly technical biking and superior views.

Staying outside Yellowstone National Park gives visitors a chance to unwind and explore areas that are more outlying. As an added bonus, Yellowstone Holiday also offers convenient Yellowstone RV campgrounds.



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Yellowstone National Park offers Family-Style Summer Recreation

Yellowstone National Park offers excellent volcanic and geothermal activities. As a natural wonder, they offer hiking, horseback riding, fishing and wildlife viewing that is unlike anything on earth. Visitors to the area can partake in or arrange one of the following activities to make their Yellowstone excursion even more fun and unforgettable.

  • Biking – Biking around Yellowstone is a popular activity. Biking is permitted on established designed routes and on certain public roads. Bikes, however, are not permitted on hiking trails, boardwalks or backcountry areas.
  • Fishing – For more than 100 years, people have been visiting Yellowstone to partake in their renowned fishing. Popular fishing areas include Firehole, Madison, Yellowstone, Gardner and Slough. Fishing areas do require a fishing license. Areas outside the West Entrance include Hebgen Lake, which offers superb dry fly lake fishing for rainbow and brown trout.
  • Backpacking and Hiking – Yellowstone has more than 1,100 miles of hiking trails. Yellowstone mainly caters to day hikers, which can explore trails on boardwalks that highlight many geothermal attractions. For active hikers, Yellowstone’s backcountry offers a pristine wilderness that is only seen firsthand by few visitors.
  • Horseback Riding – Several park permitted outfitters are allowed to offer horseback riding trips within Yellowstone National Park.
  • Whitewater Rafting – Rafting is a fun family excursion that allows people to explore the park via rafting trips. Families can even see wildlife firsthand, which makes this an outstanding, exhilarating experience.
  • Boating – Boating companies offer cruises around Yellowstone’s lakes, which allow visitors to experience the park from an aquatic vantage point.
  • Kayaking and Canoeing – Guides offer kayaking trips of Lake Yellowstone or visitors can feel free to bring their own kayaks or canoes and explore Lewis Lake.
  • Motorcycle Tours – Motorcycles need to be careful of wildlife, but feeling the wind on motorcyclists’ faces is an exhilarating experience. Top sights include Beartooth Pass, which is located near the Northeast Entrance, outside Cooke City.
  • ATV and Offroad Equipment – ATV use is prohibited inside Yellowstone National Park, but nearby areas permit ATV equipment. However, 4WD rentals are permitted to nearby gateway towns, which allow riders excellent access to authorized trails into surrounding National Forest roads and lands.
  • Wagon Train Adventures – Visitors can take a step into the past and join a wagon train adventure, learning how people used to visit Yellowstone long ago.
  • Wildlife Tours – Yellowstone is teaming with wildlife and there are many outfitters that offer personalized wildlife tours. These are ideal for individuals, couples or families.

Yellowstone Holiday is located outside the West Entrance to Yellowstone. They offer Yellowstone campgrounds, Hebgen Lake cabins and West Yellowstone RV camping.



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Yellowstone National Park: Fun, Unusual Facts

Yellowstone National Park is full of unusual, fun facts that are great for families to share before embarking on their Yellowstone adventures.

  • Yellowstone National Park was officially established on March 1, 1872, before Idaho, Wyoming and Montana were granted statehood.
  • Yellowstone has more than 40 major waterfalls.
  • Yellowstone produces 3.3 million acre-feet of water annually.
  • Yellowstone has approximately 300 active geysers and nearly 10,000 geothermal features.
  • Twelve major rivers originate within the Greater Yellowstone area.
  • The Grand Prismatic Springs pumps more than 4,000 gallons of boiling water every minute, which makes it the largest hot springs in all of North America.
  • The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is 20 miles long, 1,500 feet deep and 1,500 to 4,000 feet wide.
  • The average life span of a lodge pole pine is nearly 200 years.
  • A moose can keep its head underwater for nearly three minutes.
  • A grizzly bear can eat nearly 35 pounds of food in an average day.
  • Yellowstone’s average year-round temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Yellowstone National Park is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
  • Yellowstone National Park is 54 miles wide and 63 miles long.
  • Old Faithful erupts on average every 91 minutes.
  • Yellowstone Park’s geography is located as follows: 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho.
  • Yellowstone National Park has the largest concentration of free roaming wildlife, more than any other 48 continental U.S. states.
  • Yellowstone features 50 mammal species, 18 fish species, 311 bird species, six reptile species, four amphibian species and five endangered or threatened species.
  • Yellowstone National Park experiences approximately 2,000 earthquakes yearly.
  • Approximately 80% of the park is forested, 15% is grassland and 5% is water.
  • The park features five park entrances, 950 miles of backcountry trails, 466 miles of road and 97 trailheads.
  • Yellowstone is considered an active super volcano. There are only 30 active super volcanoes worldwide, but Yellowstone is the only one on land.
  • Yellowstone National Park has the world’s largest caldera that measures 45 by 30 miles.

Yellowstone Holiday, located outside West Yellowstone, offers superb Yellowstone RV camping and even Hebgen Lake cabins. Hebgen Lake is renowned for featuring some of the best fishing in the area, which draws many anglers. A perfect base camp area for visiting Yellowstone National Park, visitors can also spend time exploring the Hebgen Lake Marina and nearby Montana sites.



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Top Yellowstone National Park Hikes

The top hikes in Yellowstone feature luscious meadows, shooting geysers, mountain peaks and lake overlooks.

  • Observation Point – Close to Old Faithful, this trail ascends 200 feet and highlights views of the Upper Geyser Basin.
  • Two Ribbons Trail – Boardwalk trails meander through lodge-pole pine forests that are currently recovering from the 1988 fires.
  • The Beaver Ponds Loop Trail – Located near Mammoth Hot Springs, this trail goes towards Clematis Gulch, which leads to ponds and highlights spectacular views of the park.
  • Mallard Lake – This Trailhead is located on the southeast side of the Old Faithful Lodge cabins, close to the Firehole River. Visitors can take the first right as they enter the Lodge area and continue straight to find the road to the trailhead. The trail crosses the Firehole River, passes by the Pipeline Hot Springs and climbs over several rolling hills of lodge pole pines and open, rocky areas.
  • Artist Paint Pots – These colorful, artistic hot springs and mud pots are simply spectacular and inspiring and nothing short of mesmerizing.
  • Canyon Road – This area features several trails that are perfect for either short or extended hikes into Yellowstone’s backcountry. Visitors can explore high mountain peaks or survey the outstanding views of Yellowstone’s vast wilderness. The trail passes by Cascade Lake.
  • Purple Mountain – This six-mile trail passes through burned lodge pole pine forests and climaxes with a superb view of the lower Gibbon Valley and the Firehole Valley.
  • Natural Bridge – This natural bridge is 51 feet of rhyolite rock that cuts through Bridge Creek. The trail jogs through the forest for one-fourth mile and continues to the Natural Bridge.
  • Yellowstone Lake Overlook – Beginning at the West Thumb Geyser Basin, this trail extends to high mountain meadows for spectacular views of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains.
  • Lonestar Geyser Basin – This background basin features a five-mile roundtrip that begins just south of Old Faithful. The Lone Star Geyser erupts approximately every three hours.
  • Sepulcher Mountain Trail – Near Mammoth, this 11-mile loop follows Beaver Ponds Trail to Sepulcher Mountain Trail junction. The trail increases to more than 3,400 feet and climbs to meadows at elevations of more than 9.652 feet.

For visitors to Yellowstone, there are less expensive alternatives than staying overnight within the park. Yellowstone Holiday is located a mere 15 minutes from the West Yellowstone entrance. On the shores of breathtaking Hebgen Lake, visitors can choose to rent Hebgen Lake Cabins or select Yellowstone RV camping.



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