By Michael Lanza

On Sept. 20, 1869, Charles W. Cook, the leader of an expedition exploring the Yellowstone area, came upon the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River for the first time. He wrote afterward in his journal: “I was riding ahead, the two pack animals following… I remembered seeing what appeared to be an opening in the forest ahead, which I presumed to be a park, or open country. While my attention was attracted by the pack animals, which had stopped to eat grass, my saddle horse suddenly stopped. I turned and looked forward from the brink of the great canyon, at a point just across from what is now called Inspiration Point. I sat there in amazement, while my companions came up, and after that, it seemed to me that it was five minutes before anyone spoke.”

Yellowstone has been dropping jaws since even before it became the world’s first national park in 1872. I include myself among those numbers, on numerous visits over the years, most recently on a fall trip when I got the lead photo, above, of Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, from Lookout Point. For the greatest range of wildlife you’ll find in the Lower 48, one-fourth of all the geysers in the world, many other thermal features, waterfalls—and if you have young children or grandchildren, seeing the wonderment in their expressions—everyone really should get to Yellowstone.

I recommend seeing Yellowstone in every season—each is special. Winter is a time when wildlife congregate in the valleys, making them easier to spot (except bears, of course), and the geysers and thermal features take on a completely different appearance. If you want to visit in summer, the busiest season, start planning your trip now. My stories can help you do that (scroll down past the photo gallery to the links).


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See a menu of all of my stories about Yellowstone at The Big Outside, including these Ask Me posts suggesting an “Ultimate Family Tour of Yellowstone,” the 10 best short hikes in Yellowstone, and multi-day wilderness trips in the park; one about my favorite season in the park, “Cross-Country Skiing Yellowstone;” and last but scarcely least, my video of getting stuck in a “bison jam.”


Got a trip coming up? See my reviews of the best gear duffles and luggage and 6 favorite daypacks.


See also all of my stories about national park adventures and family adventures at The Big Outside.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to get email updates about new stories and gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box in the left sidebar, at the bottom of this post, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.


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