Hayden Valley is a 26,000 acre savannah that is teeming with wildlife!
We saw scores of bison, bison calves, gurgling and bubbling steam geysers and even heard stories from fellow travellers of hunting grizzly bears they spied along the twisting Yellowstone River.Take away the wildlife and you have an amazing breathtaking view that you can stare at for hours.Add in the hundreds of bison, many of which will be up close and personal…and you have a “Jurassic Park” experience.
We had a lot of fun watching the bison.They were playfully galloping, jumping (higher than you’d think), and grazing with their calves in the vast grassland.It was also very entertaining when they decided to cross the road – “Buffalo Jam”.Traffic would just build up as those enormous beasts just lumbered down the road, as if we weren’t even there…the kids thought this was hilarious!
If you are travelling south before or after Hayden Valley (which is likely Lake Yellowstone is 10 miles south and Lower Falls is 5 miles north), then it’s worth adding a few quick stops along the way:
There’s a parking area where you can take short walks to Mud Volcano and the Dragon’s Mouth Spring.And while this stop was a cool spot to see…it is by far the smelliest place in Yellowstone.The smell of sulfur (i.e. rotten eggs) is really strong and had some of our pickier children gagging and complaining more than normal.The whole walk around these sites is just over ½ mile – so it’s good for a 30-minute stop.
Mud Volcano is a fun bubbling roadside attraction that is is a gurgling pit of milk mud formed from the hydrogen sulfide and clay.Very unique and worth enduring the smell to see.
The Dragons Mouth Spring is located at the top of the path and have some sight and sound effects that its neighbors lack.The steaming cavern offers a growling-type noise a few times a minute.Pair that with its steaming mouth and you have the making of a “Dragon”.
There’s also a new attraction forming in the parking lot – a new mud pot with steel railings to prevent it from swallowing your vehicle!That’s the cool thing about Yellowstone, it’s pure unadulterated Earth forming entertainment and all the unpredictable change that comes with it.
If you are exploring the lower loop of Yellowstone, the 16-miles stretch between Yellowstone Lake and Canyon Village is loaded with sights to see.
From Hayden Valley to the smelly, gurgling mud volcano, go check it out!