A visit to Yellowstone National Park is an iconic feature of any American road trip.
There’s really nothing else like it—one minute you’ll be looking at beautiful landscapes of snow capped mountains and the next you’re watching colorful boiling pools or geysers spouting water from the ground.
I have visited the park several times during the summer months, but I really enjoyed visiting Yellowstone in late April (when many of the below photos were taken). Parts of the park are closed (including some of the campgrounds), but you get to see some snow and the park is much less crowded.
While there are SO many spots to visit on a camping trip to Yellowstone, here are my favorite 5 scenic places to visit while camping in Yellowstone National Park.
Mammoth Hot Springs
If you’re entering the park from the north, Mammoth Hot Springs will be your first stop. Immediately, you’ll get a taste of what Yellowstone is all about. These springs have a fascinating stair type design, featuring hues of white, yellow, gold, brown, and orange, with water flowing down the steps and steam rising from various areas around the springs.
The forests and mountains in the background also make a lovely backdrop for this colorful natural wonder.
After visiting Mammoth Hot Springs and exploring all the walking paths, venture into the Mammoth Hotel and the Albright Visitor Center. Another important thing to note about this location is that you can pay for showers at the hotel, which is great if you’re camping at a time when the campgrounds with showers are closed. There are only two showers on each level, so you’re more likely to find a free shower on the higher levels.
Also, the visitor’s center is one of the only places to get wifi in the park. Send your final work emails here folks. Then, Yellowstone will force you to take a technology break until you leave the premises.
Norris Geyser Basin
This stop will definitely give you a variety of scenic views. Along the walking path, you’ll see beautiful blue pools of water on one side and bright green streams on the other. Watch for geysers on the path, such as the Steamboat Geyser. This is the world’s tallest currently active geyser.
At every stop in Yellowstone, especially this one, look at all the 360 views around you. What you see in front of you may be completely different from the view behind you.
Lower Geyser Basin
The Lower Geyser Basin is a continuation of the strange and colorful wasteland type landscapes introduced in the Norris Geyser Basin. Here you’ll find noted spots like the Silex Spring, Fountain Paint Pots, and Leather Pool.
Silex Spring is a beautiful deep shade of blue, surrounded by hues of orange, white, and brown. When you get close to the spring, you can see inside at the changes in color from clear to blue as the spring gets deeper.
You’ll also find some very interesting boiling mudpots, like the Red Spouter, which will keep you mesmerized as you attempt to capture the bubbling in photos.
Midway Geyser Basin
This geyser basin features many of the larger and more colorful pools, such as the Turquoise Pool, Grand Prismatic Spring, Opal Pool, and Excelsior Geyser Crater.
As you get closer to the Grand Prismatic Spring, you’ll see a rainbow of colors. Rust colored waters extend from the path all the way to the spring and the steam rising from the top gives glimpses of the blue and green beneath.
The Excelsior Geyser Crater is a huge blue pool surrounded by white rocks. Wait for the perfect moment between the steam to capture the color of the water against the trees in the distance.
Visiting Old Faithful is a Yellowstone tradition. It may not result in the most scenic or colorful photo you take while camping in Yellowstone (and it will certainly be the most crowded), but it is majestic nonetheless.
You can check estimated times in the visitor center to see when Old Faithful is scheduled to erupt. Plan plenty of time to get good seats beforehand and sit in the front if you’re hoping to take any photos (otherwise you’ll have tourist’s heads in all your photos). I highly recommend picking up some Huckleberry ice cream to eat while you wait.
Also worth noting is that you can pay for showers at the Old Faithful Inn. These bathrooms are BEAUTIFUL. Easily the nicest bathroom I have ever seen and a nice luxury for any camping trip.
Bonus! Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons
Just south of the South Entrance of Yellowstone, you’ll find the town of Jackson, Wyoming. It’s an adorable city with a western flair and a downtown area full of coffee shops, gift shops, and restaurants, all with a great view of the mountains.
And on your way to Jackson, you’ll pass by the Grand Tetons! You might as well mark another National Park off you list since you’re so close. This park is full of scenic views, snow-capped mountains, beautiful trees, crystal lakes, and wildlife.
Camping in Yellowstone is so much fun and now you’ve got an itinerary of places to visit and things to see. Use these ideas as the beginnings of your travel plans, as there are so many more places to see in the park!
Enjoy these 5 scenic places to visit while camping in Yellowstone National Park and remember… don’t pet the bison!