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Yellowstone Lake - Canyon Scenic Drive

Distance: 43.3 miles
Duration: 4 hours
Start: West Thumbs
End: Canyon North Rim Drive
State / Country: Wyoming, Montana, U.S.A.
Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468 square miles (8,983 kmē) comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. It is perhaps most remarkable as a wildlife sanctuary. Protected here are bison, elk, bears, moose, mountain lions, eagles, trumpeter swans, and a host of other animals. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, an awe-inspiring canyon 4,000 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep in places. Here you can find impressive Yellowstone waterfalls: the Lower Falls, which steeply plunge 308 feet into the canyon, and the Upper Falls, which tumble 109 feet down.

On this tour you will see various hydrothermal features at West Thumb Geyser Basin area, stroll through Yellowstone Lake shoreline, catching some amazing views of wild animals and explore the beauty of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and waterfalls.

While in the park, remember to slow down for animals, watch for falling rocks, always stop at scenic outlooks instead of road side and fill up your tank. The maximum speed limit inside the park is 45 mph (73 km per hour).

West Thumb Geyser Basin
The West Thumb Geyser Basin, including Potts Basin to the north, is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The heat source of the thermal features in this location is thought to be relatively close to the surface, only 10,000 feet (3000 m) down. West Thumb is about the same size as another famous volcanic caldera, Crater Lake in Oregon, but much smaller than the great Yellowstone Caldera which last erupted about 640,000 years ago. It is interesting to note that West Thumb is a caldera within a caldera.

Yellowstone Lake
The tallest waterfall in the park, for a closer view of the falls, take Uncle Tom's Trail, which consists of a series of metal stairs that lead down into the Canyon.

Hayden Valley
Hayden Valley is one of the best places in the park to view a wide variety of wildlife. It is an excellent place to look for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring and early summer. Large herds of bison may be viewed in the spring, early summer, and during the fall rut, which usually begins late July to early August. Coyotes can almost always be seen in the valley. Bird life is abundant in and along the river. A variety of shore birds may be seen in the mud flats at Alum Creek.

Artist's Point
One of the most famous locations in Yellowstone, spectacular view of the Lower Falls on Yellowstone River in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Lower Falls
This most magnificent of Yellowstone's falls is easily accessible from many points along the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Uncle Tom's Trail provides a unique, up close view, of this grand display.

Inspiration Point
It is a natural observation point where the canyon wall juts far out into the canyon allowing spectacular views both upstream and down. Along the road to Inspiration Point there is a house-sized granite boulder sitting in the pine forest alongside the road.

North Rim Drive
This one way loop road starts at the parking lot of the Canyon area. This loop consists of walks and overlooks that give you a panaromic view of the canyon as well as an upclose view of the uper and lower falls.

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