America’s Best National Park: Who Ya Got?
Each week, Yahoo Travel pits two rival destinations against each other to determine once and for all which one is better. Up for battle this week are Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks.
America’s best national park: Who ya got? Half Dome or Old Faithful? Yellowstone’s towering geysers or Yosemite’s majestic waterfalls? The bald eagles and buffalo herds in Yellowstone, or the black bear and bighorn sheep of Yosemite? Two of America’s largest and most popular parks each boast some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, flourishing wildlife, and untracked wilderness to explore. But which park should be declared the better of the two? Some fun facts and spirited debate might help you choose a winner.
Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Geyser (Photo: Thinkstock)
The Case for Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is a land of superlatives: The first national park in the world. The biggest park in the lower 48 states. Home of the largest population of wild bison in the world. And the location of one-half of the world’s known hydrothermal features, including Old Faithful geyser, in addition to an otherworldly landscape of bubbling mud pots, multihued hot springs, steaming vents, and curious sculptures made of silica geyserites. For the wildlife or the geothermal features alone, Yellowstone would outclass Yosemite, but the park also boasts a full slate of outdoor activities — more than a thousand miles of hiking trails, 2,000 campsites, and year-round lodging — to rival anything Yosemite has to offer.
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Founded: In 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park in the U.S. The creation of the park gained steam with the help of a railroad executive, of all people, who wrote, “Let Congress pass a bill reserving the Great Geyser Basin (Yellowstone) as a public park forever — just as it has reserved that far inferior wonder the Yosemite valley and big trees.”
Size: 2.2 million acres across three states. That is more than 3,400 square miles, which is almost triple the size of Yosemite, making Yellowstone the largest national park in the lower 48 states.
Number of Visitors: The park averages over 3 million visitors per year, with a record 3.6 million in 2010.
Old Faithful (Photo: Thinkstock)