Yellowstone Section last revised 7/27/2008.

Page last revised 7/18/2008.


Dog Notes: Yellowstone National Park is not dog friendly.

Dogs are only allowed within 100 feet of roads and parking areas, plus Old Faithful viewing area.

Dogs are not allowed at any other viewing areas or overlooks.

Grand Teton National Park is only an hour’s drive from the South Entrance of Yellowstone. With mountains that are still growing, glaciers, and incredible wildlife, Grand Teton National Park is worth much more of a visit than just a side trip from Yellowstone.


Earthquake Lake was created by an earthquake in the 1960’s. A mountain side collapsed and dammed a the Gallatin River. Many campers lost their lives. More would have been lost by drowning except for fast action on the part of rescue workers and he Core of Engineers. The same earthquake changed Old Faithful’s eruption schedule.


The Headwaters of the Missouri River is only an hour from Yellowstone, and actually to the west. The Missouri is the longest river in the United States.


There is much more in the area. Complete exploration would take multiple lifetimes.

Yellowstone Area

Old Faithful is the best known thermal features of the park — probably the best known thermal feature in the world. See Upper Geyser Basin.

Yellowstone National Park Area

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Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas are amazing places. Yellowstone was our first national park — it was a national park before there was any significant settlement by those of European descent. It is also our largest national park, with 3,472 square miles it is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Some would also call it the worst managed national park, and point to the great fire of the 1980’s and its aftermath as proof. After that fire, many referred to the park as Black Rock National Park — formerly known as Yellowstone. The “dead standing” trees are actually left there for a reason. They are claimed to reduce future fires.

Yellowstone has over 50 mountains over 10,000 feet high and more than 300 significant waterfalls. Two waterfalls are even higher than the well known Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Many of these waterfalls are in remote sections of the back country — beyond where the Traveling Morgans can go at this time of their lives.

The number of thermal features is unique on the planet. We have seen estimates placing as high as 66% of the active, unharnessed, geysers on the planet are in Yellowstone.  There are also some uniquely beautiful hot springs. Thermal features are caused by molten magma underground, three times the volume of the water in Lake Michigan according to National Geographic. Some claim the massive volcano underlying Yellowstone will erupt again one day as it last did over 600,000 years ago. The hot spot underlying Yellowstone has not moved but the continent has shifted. According to National Geographic, the hot spot was once under the Snake River Plain, an area now further west. The Snake River Plain helps conduct moisture in. Yellowstone gets a lot of rain and snow compared to most of the Intermountain West.

The Upper Geyser Basin (including Old Faithful) and
Mammoth Hot Springs could each easily be a national park. The story is the earth’s crust is less than half the normal thickness at Yellowstone, and hence there is a lot of hot magma fairly near the surface. The Mammoth Hot Springs has been described as a mountain turning itself inside out. You will see formations made of the same material as stalactites and stalagmites of a cave, but on the surface of the mountain instead if inside. The minerals are carried to the surface by the hot spring water, and then left behind when the water evaporates.

One of the largest petrified forests is at Yellowstone. The tress are standing. It is not well known and it takes a significant hike. There is one standing petrified tree you can drive to in the North Central section.

The Yellowstone River (see Northeast Yellowstone), with two major waterfalls (Upper Falls and Lower Falls), a beautiful “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” and a black canyon, would easily be worth a national park by itself.  Artist Point is the best single scenic overlook the Traveling Morgans have ever seen. Unfortunately Roscoe and Harpo were not allowed. See dogs notes below. The story is that artist Thomas Moran was commissioned to paint a picture of the Lower Falls in order to help Congress decided the fate of Yellowstone. When he came to this point, he cried “There are not enough colors in an artist’s palette to due justice to what I see”. Moran may have actually been at what is now called Moran point, and the name Artist point may have been given by early park photographer F. Jay Haynes in 1883. The beauty is not disputed.

Yellowstone Lake is the world’s largest alpine lake and the highest lake in the United States.  Even without the rest of the park, this lake is an incredible place. Could it be it’s own national park?

The wildlife is quite possible the most interesting part of the park. Eagles, osprey, trumpeter swans, wolves, coyotes, bison, moose, elk , beaver, black bears and grizzly bears are some of the often seen animals. See Birds and Mammals.

The Obsidian Cliff was famous among native Americans as far away as modern day Indiana many hundreds of years before Columbus ever sailed. Imagine walking thousands of miles for some very special rock.

The continental divide runs through Yellowstone. The northern three-fourths of the park drains to the Missouri River and hence to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. The southern quarter goes to the Snake River, then the Columbia and the Pacific. There is even a pond called Two Ocean Lake  that straddles the divide and drains to both. See South Central Yellowstone.

Here is a 1.5 MB PDF Map of Yellowstone courtesy of

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River from Artist Point.

Also see Northeast Yellowstone.

Mammoth Hot Springs where the mountain turns itself inside-out.

See what Phyllis says in her journal about traveling to Yellowstone and our stay in the Yellowstone Area.

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