Native North Americans have lived in the Yellowstone area, which covers three northwestern states in the US, for about 11,000 years but the national park was opened in 1872.

Attractions here include the Yellowstone Caldera, which is considered active despite erupting only twice in the past million years, and the legendary waterspout of the Old Faithful geyser, so-named because it shoots jets of boiling water up to 50m into the air around every 90 minutes. Though the park’s other geyser, the Steamboat, isn’t as regular, its water-spouting is far more impressive.

Yellowstone steams across a massive land area that covers a lot of Wyoming and spreads into Montana and Idaho. Wooden walkways allow visitors to get up close and personal with bubbling mud pools and boiling springs and the park’s excellent information center is a hub of activity seven days a week.

Nearly 4,000 people staff the park, which hosts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Cabins, hotels and campgrounds are all available though outdoor lovers may want to remember that bears, bison and wolves roam freely in all areas of Yellowstone National Park.

In brief

What is it?** One of America’s biggest and oldest national parks.

When to go?** Summer can bring high heat and risk of bush fires, while winters often see the park covered in snow. Spring is best, when the park’s flora and fauna return to life.

Nearest town**: Gardiner, Montana, is one of dozens of entry points into the park.

Don’t miss: witnessing Old Faithful show off why it got its name.
Factoid: Yellowstone National Park is so big that half of the entire world’s geothermal sites are located within its boundaries.

Getting there

Road access is via several entrance gates in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The North Entrance is the only one open year-round, however, and it is served out of the town of Gardiner in Montana, off Highway 212. The West Entrance is near the town of West Yellowstone in Montana and it is opened to four-wheeled traffic from April through November.

Cody Wyoming Yellowstone Regional Airport is the main airport serving the park. Shuttle transfers run between the airport and the park’s East Entrance several times daily, with a 30 minute journey time. Delta and Skywest operate domestic connections to all major cities including San Francisco (1 hour), Los Angeles (1 hour) and New York (2 hours, 30 minutes).