I originally had planned this post to be a “48 hours in Yellowstone” post for people who are only able to visit for a short period of time, but in lieu of the recent floods and closures, I figured I can revamp this post to share about all the things you can still do even with the closures.
According to the news reports, the northern part of Yellowstone including Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Junction, & Canyon Junction should be reopening this weekend (Fourth of July weekend!) Verify before traveling there! The only portion of the park that will remain inaccessible is Lamar Valley, which may take years before repairs are made.
So here are 10 things you can do in Yellowstone in 2022 despite the flood closures!
1. Drive Firehole Canyon
Just inside the West Yellowstone entrance, running parallel to U.S. Highway 191 south, you’ll find Firehole Canyon Road! This short little offshoot takes you on a winding narrow road along the edge of the river where you can see waterfalls, rapids and beautiful cliffs.
2. Lake Village & Fishing Bridge
In an attempt to escape the crowds, we ventured in to the Lake Village area near Lake Yellowstone. This village is pretty central to the park and away from the geothermic areas so there were fewer people there. Check out the gift shop and visitors center or just wander along the edge of the lake. If you time it right, there are plenty of areas along the lake that are a perfect lunch spot with views!
3. Bike or Hike out to Natural Bridge
A short 3.1 mile out and back trail with minimal elevation will take you to Yellowstone Natural Bridge in central Yellowstone. We opted to bike it so we could get as much exploring in as possible. There were only a couple other people there since it’s not one of the huge draws to the park. You can also hike up the super strenuous, switchbacks to the top to see a view from the top of the bridge!
4. Check out the Geysers of West Thumb Geyser Basin
The West Thumb Geyser Basin area actually stands out in my memory as my favorite geothermal area! Something about these vibrant blue hot springs on with the Yellowstone Lake backdrop was so amazing to me. It also wasn’t NEARLY as packed with people as a few of the other basin areas so you were free to linger a bit more.
5. Watch the Old Faithful Eruption
Did you even go to Yellowstone if you didn’t wait around to see Old Faithful erupt? I’ll be honest, this was probably my least favorite thing we did while in Yellowstone but you just have to do it. And when we went, Old Faithful was almost 30 minutes late! Talk about getting antsy. I will say though, if you’re going to go, walk to the back or hike to the top of the overlook to get away from the crowds on the benches.
6. Check out the beautiful views of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
We sadly didn’t make it to this area while we were there last fall but if you have the time, then Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a MUST. There are a ton of hiking trails to choose from and several scenic spots to see both Upper Falls & Lower Falls. You also can drive along the north and south rims to get views of it that way instead. The most-stop spot is called “Artists Point.”
7. Check out the various Geyser Basins
With a variety of different Geyser Basins scattered throughout the park, it’s hard to decide which to hit and which to skip. In my opinion, pick a few and you can’t go wrong. Upper, Lower, Midway, Norris, Artist Paintpots and more. It would take you forever to try to see them all so pick a few that make sense with your travel plans and enjoy the boardwalks!
8. Hike to the Top of Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook
If the weather cooperates, make it your goal to hike up to the overlook above Grand Prismatic for the best views. The photos I have seen from this view point area WAY better than the close up angle we had. We also went too early in the morning on a rainy day so the steam was impossible to see through. The trail to the overlook is just over a half a mile and only 100 foot elevation gain so it’s worth the tiny bit of effort.
9. Explore the Mammoth Hot Springs Area
As I am writing this, the roads leading to Mammoth Hot Springs Area are not open yet but allegedly 4th of July it will all reopen! If that is the case, MAKE SURE you drive up to Mammoth Hot Springs to see the wild, out of this world terraces. These terraces made of travertine have constantly shifting hot spring water cascading down the side of them and constantly changing the shape and texture of this area. The white and gold look to them makes them absolutely mesmerizing.
10. Hike Mt. Washburn
If you are a good hiker and up for a bit of a challenge, you can opt for one of the two hikes up to the top of Mt. Washburn. This mountain has an elevation of 10,243ft and rewards you with panoramic views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake. Both trail options are strenuous: you can take the Dunraven Pass or Chittenale Road, both with an elevation gain of about 1400 ft. Well worth the hike for the views!
I hope that if you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone this year that you can make the most of your time there even with some closures. It’s no surprise that Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country!
Did I miss any must-see spots in Yellowstone? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking to plan a National Park road trip of your own this summer or fall? Check out InMotion Adventures for all your planning needs! Until next time…