Let’s imagine that you’ve got some vacation time you’d like to use, and the goal of this getaway is to connect with nature, get away from the crowds, and spend some time contemplating the beauty that the world has to offer. Fortunately for you, Yellowstone National Park ticks all those boxes.
Let’s imagine, too, that you want to avoid all the obvious sights—or, at least, not confine yourself to them exclusively. It’s a common saying at Yellowstone that 95% of the people use 5% of the park, and 5% of the people use 95% of the park. Beyond the Grand Loop is a vast wilderness of amazing places, stunning vistas, and profound experiences that most people will never venture to see. Very few of the three million annual Yellowstone visitors get even one-half mile off the road. Those places off the paved road are the hidden gems of Yellowstone.
The Unobstructed Night Sky
Lifelong city dwellers rarely see more than a few specks of light in the night sky—and that includes the moon. City shine blocks the view for a vast majority of the American population, so watching the stars where no the air is clear (if slightly sulfurous) and the sky is wide can be exquisitely dizzying for first-timers. A night sky full of millions of twinkling stars and faraway galaxies that coalesce into the strip of the densely populated galactic center that we call the Milky Way isn’t boring for anyone, in fact, even for those park rangers who see it on a nightly basis. Pack a star chart and a pair of powerful binoculars or a telescope to further your astronomical education.
Hike into the backcountry or see the night sky from a more family-friendly location. Yellowstonepark.com recommends these four popular star-gazing points: Mount Washburn, Upper Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Madison Amphitheater Astronomy Program.
Lone Star Geyser
While thousands flock to Old Faithful Geyser, the crowds are absent from Lone Star Geyser. Located about two miles (3 km) off the main road, the geyser is a fairly easy hike even for younger children and sits alone in an open space. Bring a picnic and prepare to wait a bit for an eruption, however. Lone Star has both major and minor eruptions, with major eruptions occurring about once every 2 ½ to three hours, and about 20 minutes after a minor eruption. Both the hike and the geyser eruptions are definitely worth the time and effort, and the lack of crowds means you get a ringside seat.
Approximately one mile up the trail from Tunnel View, Artist Point offers breathtaking views of Yellowstone Grand Canyon’s Lower Falls. Crowds are thinner here, so take advantage of the space to take plenty of photos and videos or just breathe in the clear, crisp air and be grateful to be alive.
Located on the South Rim Trail, you’ll find Point Sublime, a place of peace and beauty, where you can enjoy the Yellowstone River surrounded by its cliffs striated in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Two Ocean Plateau
Nestled into the southeast corner of the vast park, Two Ocean Plateau is far from any of the main roads. This remote area contains a vast marsh whose water drains to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
While most tourists stick to the Grand Loop and rarely exit the car, some take the time to strap on their hiking boots, load up a pack, and head into the backcountry for several days at a time. Camp grounds fill up fast and require reservations months in advance, but hikers can purchase a backcountry permit and make camp just about anywhere the ground is level enough for a tent. Sign up for a tour with a backcountry expedition company or set up a group outing with your friends who are experienced hikers and campers. Traveling in groups of four or more discourages bears from getting too curious or aggressive.Contact us today!