Autumn road through Yellowstone National Park

Scenic Drive through Yellowstone Park

Discover some of the greatest natural icons of the American West.
It's a big country out here, with ribbons of highway rolling from one scenic horizon to the next. Whether you're dreaming of expansive Wyoming landscapes with rivers rushing through vast meadows, capturing the perfect shot of a grizzly bear and her cubs (with your zoom lens, of course), or witnessing Old Faithful erupt for the first (or hundredth) time, Yellowstone journeys will touch your heart and soul with the experiences - and memories - of a lifetime.

Yellowstone National Park is the hub for some of America's most scenic drives. Inspiring routes that traverse through high alpine country, towering rocky spires, and terrain dotted with jewel-like cobalt lakes and soaring stands of evergreen forest. Big wild animals, majestic peaks and hydrothermal fireworks at every turn.

Roll down your windows, make sure the driver is keeping at least one (preferably both) eyes on the road, and get ready to see some of the greatest natural icons of the American West, up close and personal. Read below to learn about a few of Yellowstone's most scenic "hot spots".

Hayden Valley

If viewing wildlife is high on your Yellowstone agenda, there's no better place to drive than picturesque Hayden Valley. This vast open landscape is home to herds of bison, elk and the occasional grizzly bear and wolf. The experience is made even more spectacular as you drive along the beautiful Yellowstone River, which wanders through this wide-angle, panoramic valley.

Hayden Valley is located just to the south of Yellowstone's Canyon region, and six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Located five miles from Yellowstone's North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs is the site of Yellowstone National Park's headquarters as well as a "hotbed" of geothermal scenery. This part of the park is a watercolor painting in progress, with hot water sizzling over multi-colored terraces. Mammoth's Palette Springs is often cited as one of Yellowstone's most dramatic photo ops.

In Yellowstone, where there's water, there's life. And Mammoth is a great place to see wild animals. Elk are almost always in the vicinity - particularly in the fall when the males' bugling call can be heard far and wide. Pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and moose like it here, too.

Old Faithful Geyser

The iconic heart of Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful launches hydrothermal fireworks every 45 to 120 minutes to adoring audiences who sit on benches that circle the south and east sides of the geyser, or walk along the paved path that completely circles this natural wonder.

The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center has dynamic exhibits for all ages about Yellowstone's hydrothermal features, as well as the latest geyser eruption predictions. It's also a great place to view Old Faithful's blasts perfectly framed by the center's picture windows.

West Yellowstone's West Entrance is the closest park access point to Old Faithful (30 miles away), located in the southeast quadrant of Yellowstone National Park. Please note that vehicle access to Old Faithful is closed for the winter season, usually around the start of November, and re-opens in the spring. Guided snowmobile tours to Old Faithful are available during the winter.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

There are no words to adequately describe the power and majesty of this painted canyon where the Yellowstone River tumbles over two high waterfalls. Many say it rivals that "other" Grand Canyon for spectacular scenery.

The 20-mile-long canyon ranges from 1,500 to 4,000 feet across and features vibrant yellow, pink, orange and buff cliff walls that dive as much as 1,000-plus feet on either side.

With vista points like Point Sublime, Inspiration Point, Artist Point, and Upper Falls View, well, it sounds like there are plenty of places where you are going to want to stop the car, stretch your legs, and say "wow"! Making it even easier, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is accessible by road from both the north and south sides.

Yellowstone's canyon region is located right in the middle of America's first National Park.