National Geographic : 2016 May
Planet Earth EXPLORE PHOTO: MICHAEL NICHOLS days. The park’s beauty inspires photography and art courses. Lessons in fly-fishing and animal tracking round out the curriculum. HIKING Some of the park’s biggest attractions can be seen from roads and over- looks, but others take a bit more legwork. The unusual Uncle Tom’s Trail has stairs descending 500 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellow- stone and delivers hikers to the base of the Lower Falls, a roaring 308-foot waterfall. On the eastern boundary, the four-mile trail up and down Avalanche Peak in the brief summer season showcases colorful subalpine wildflowers. SWIMMING HOLES “Hot- potting” is the slang for taking a dip in one of Yellowstone’s celebrated thermal features. But only one still allows swimmers; it’s a half-mile walk along the trail north of Mammoth Hot Springs. VOLCANIC WONDERS Earth’s most astounding concentra- tion of thermal features is on vivid display at the park’s geyser basins. Norris Geyser Basin, the oldest and hottest hydrothermal region in the park, is home to Steamboat, the world’s tallest active geyser. Upper Geyser Basin boasts the famous Old Faithful geyser. WIND SPORTS With its steady breeze and wide-open water, Yellowstone Lake is an ideal place for wind sports. It’s the nation’s largest high-altitude lake, roughly 20 miles from north to south and 14 miles from east to west. Windsurfers and sailors have easy access; special “boat party” camp- sites dot the shore. WINTER SPORTS The park’s snow blanket is punctured in spots by steam and perco- lating hot water. Visitors may explore by snowmobile and snowcoach when accom- panied by an authorized commercial guide. Those who cross-country ski or snowshoe have miles of groomed trails and untouched expanses of backcountry snow. Visitors pose for photos at Artist Point. Yellowstone’s scenery is praised in The 10 Best of Everything: National Parks.