Yosemite vs Yellowstone: Which park is best?
Across the United States, the National Parks department has many wonders. Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks are both excellent destinations for nature lovers and history buffs. These parks appear to have limitless stretches of trails, sightseeing, mountains, and waterfalls, yet they are not identical.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about Yosemite vs Yellowstone. I’ll go through the differences between the 2 parks and their histories, as well as the best ways to get to these parks and why, in certain cases, you might want to visit Yellowstone over Yosemite.
Let’s dive straight into it
Yosemite is without a doubt the most gorgeous spot on the planet. It was initially protected in 1864, when Abraham Lincoln signed laws that prohibit industrialization in Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove (the great trees), marking a watershed moment in American and global history. Over 15% of the earth’s surface is presently protected. Since California had already become a state in 1864, the new park’s upkeep and protection fell to the local government.
Yellowstone became the country’s first national park over 10 years later, in 1872 when legislation was passed to protect it. The federal government, on the other hand, had a tougher time with Yellowstone. There was no local authority to supervise the conservation of the property because it was part of Wyoming territory, which was not yet an established state. Instead, lawmakers were compelled to designate Yellowstone as a national park, which is now protected by the federal government, owing to a lack of other choices.
Yosemite vs Yellowstone: Short History
After knowing about these beautiful places let’s know something about their past and the reason why they are the national parks. If you are not interested in knowing the history of these two amazing places then you can skip this part.
Yosemite National Park has a rather violent and tarnished past, with the initial Native American tribe being pushed out in the mid-nineteenth century. Despite being removed from the land, the park got its Miwok tribal name, Yosemite, which means “killer” in Miwok. It is unknown if this was the name given to the park by the tribal group before they were forced to leave owing to its stunning scenery or because of the act of forcing them to leave.
President Abraham Lincoln declared Yosemite Valley as a public recreational area in 1864 as a result of the region’s popularity among Gold Rush workers and European explorers. The region required preservation, and President Lincoln’s law was the very first step toward protecting Yosemite territory.
Afterward, in 1890, Scottish-American naturalist John Muir advocated for Yosemite to be designated as a national park in need to aid conserve the wilderness and animals. Muir adored Yosemite and worked as a shepherd on the property, researching the geological features of Yosemite Valley, and was among the first to climb Cathedral Peak and Mount Dana.
History of Yellowstone National Park
The geography in and surrounding Yellowstone National Park is considered to have been created by a catastrophic volcanic explosion two million years ago. Because the eruption was so powerful, it formed a huge landscape of sloping hills, ridges, and rock formations that spanned approximately 3500 square miles (nearly 9000 square kilometers).
Yellowstone is famed for its geysers, notably Old Faithful, which erupts multiple times each day, due to its geology, with magma fueling the hydrothermal system that flows beneath the park’s surface.
These waterfalls and explosions are today one of the pleasures of visiting Yellowstone, but for the original tribes that lived here, they were a source of tremendous terror since they thought evil lurked under the surface, causing such a disaster.
Yellowstone was the very first official National Park, established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. As this was later than Abraham Lincoln’s signing off of Yosemite as a public recreation area, it is nevertheless regarded as the first of the 61 places preserved by the National Park Service.
Yosemite vs Yellowstone
|Major Differences||Yosemite National Park||Yellowstone National park|
|Total Area||1187 square miles||3742 square miles|
|Attractive spots||10 main attractive spots||6 main attractive spots|
|Wildlife||American dippers, Western tanagers, Wild boars, Snowshoe, hares mountain, Beavers.||Wolves, Bison, Lynxes, Badgers, Moose, Mountain goats.|
|Weather||It is colder and the winter is long. During the summer, the temperature remains fairly warm throughout the day.||Due to the more uniform height, weather variations are less noticeable; snow and rain are frequent all through the winter, spring, and fall seasons.|
|Memorable places||Sierra Nevada Mountains; Glacier-based attractions||Rocky Mountains; Geothermal-based attractions|
|No. of tourist||More than 4 million per year||4 million per year|
Yosemite vs Yellowstone: Natural differences
Yosemite is a massive granite slab in the Sierra Nevada Mountain region on the California-Nevada border. The area contains some of Europe’s greatest and tallest granite monoliths, or walls, which have been pushed up by plate tectonics, worn by weather, and sculpted by glaciers.
You may stand at the base of El Capitan, Yosemite’s most renowned wall, and marvel how anything so massive could be produced. When trekking alone in the bush, you may view even more granite structures that appear to reach forever over the horizon. Trees, streams, and wildlife seek seclusion among these granite domes and cliffs, and trekking here will work out calf muscles you didn’t know existed.
Yellowstone, but on the other hand, is an active volcanic caldera in the Rocky Mountains. Since of this, and because the earth’s crust is thinner here than most other locations on the planet (just three kilometers thick instead of the typical 20), geysers and sulfur-scented pools of red, blue, and turquoise water dominate the landscape.
The cliffs aren’t quite as tall as those in Yosemite, but Yellowstone’s isolated position allows it to attract a wider range of animals, such as bison and elk, and attracts fewer visitors, especially on the trails.
What is Yosemite national park famous for?
Yosemite National Park is recognized for its spectacular mountain formations, valleys, forests, meadows, and cascading waterfalls.
Over three million acres of land make up the national park, which is divided into four separate geographic areas.
The valley, the Sequoia groves, the Granite Cliffs, and the High Sierra are the first four things that come to mind. As a result, this national park is unlike any other on the planet.
Visitors are wowed by the stunning vistas offered by each location, which entice them to return.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the US, if not the entire globe. The waterfalls, Half Dome, and El Capitan are all popular tourist attractions.
They also want to get up and personal with that stunning granite.
What is Yellowstone national park famous for?
Yellowstone was formed by the interaction of fire and water. It has thousands of square kilometers of woodland and Meadow, as well as lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, mountains, canyons, and the continent’s biggest supervolcano (still active).
It’s also famous for its geysers, crystal clear waters, fountains, animals, and geothermal monuments, and it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Yosemite wildlife vs Yellowstone wildlife comparison
Yellowstone National Park is likely to win if wildlife is a top priority when choosing a national park to explore.
Nearly 70 species of animals live in Yellowstone’s vast, unspoiled landscapes, including roughly 4000 bison that wander and graze throughout the park. Bald eagles flock here in droves to roost and fly about the park, making it a favorite breeding location.
Because Yellowstone is a larger and more isolated park, wildlife has a lot more room to wander. While this may lead you to believe that you would encounter fewer animals, you would be mistaken; wildlife watching is practically expected.
Tourists might see the grizzlies, moose, elk, coyotes, and even wolves, which can also be seen at night when camping on site!
While Yosemite still has a diverse assortment of animals, it is less well-known for sightings, owing to the huge number of tourists the park gets in a much smaller area.
Grizzly bears, deer, mule, foxes, and bighorn sheep, to mention a few, may all be seen in Yosemite, although some of these animals are timid and prefer to avoid human contact. Because of the park’s height, birdlife is widespread, making it a great place to go bird watching rather than looking for mammals.
Which park is easily accessible?
With such a population of about 40 million people, California is now the most populous state in the United States. Yosemite is accessible to 40 million people within a day’s ride, with many foreign visitors arriving daily via San Francisco.
And, as a result of Yosemite’s recent appearance on the big screen in the film “Free Solo,” attendance continues to rise. Yosemite can be reached in less than a day from San Francisco, whether driving yourself or on a tour.
Yellowstone, on the other hand, is located in Wyoming, one of the estimated population states in the United States, with few big cities close. As a result, many tourists to Yellowstone come only to the national park.
There are no urban residents to visit, and there is no California coastal road trip. Instead, it’s all about nature, the American wild west, and wildlife. And it will take far longer than a single day’s journey. You’ll most likely fly to Jackson and then drive to Yellowstone National Park.
Things to do in Yosemite National Park
As I previously stated, there is no shortage of things to do in Yosemite National Park; but, to make life simpler for you, I’ve included the best and most popular activities in Yosemite below.
1. Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls is among the most iconic and stunning sights in Yosemite Valley, cascading over a granite wall and smashing the rocks at the cliff’s base. As you travel down the valley, the falls appear over treetops and around bends, and they seem different from every perspective, making it difficult to pull your gaze away.
You don’t have to trek or just get out of your car to enjoy this waterfall, however, the greatest view of the falls seems to be from the beginning of the Yosemite Falls hike, along with a non-handicapped approach on the left side of the river. You may easily stroll to the foot of the falls and experience the mist rushing over you.
2. EI Capitan
El Capitan is a 3,000-foot sheer granite wall on the northern side of Yosemite Valley that is famous among hikers. El Capitan is 1,000 feet taller than Half Dome’s face, despite appearances to the contrary.
The free climbing ascent of Alex Honnold in June 2017 sparked curiosity, as did the Academy Award-winning short documentary Free Solo. The first person who had climbed El Capitan without the use of ropes or any other assistance was Alex Honnold. It took three hours and 56 minutes to complete the ascent.
From the Tunnel View perspective, El Capitan appears as a massive cliff on the left side of the valley, towering over everything else seen from this vantage point.
It’s better to see this one-way road on your way out of the valley because it’s a one-way road. Rangers set up in the meadow at specific times of the day to provide presentations about El Capitan.
You may park on the right side of the road, beyond the El Capitan picnic area, and walk up to the wall if you wish to go near it or even touch it.
The short route leads to an open field near the face, and from there, primitive tracks go up through woods and stones to the foot of the cliff. Almost often, climbers are placed up here. The park does not advertise this trail.
3. Tunnel View
Tunnel Sight offers the most recognizable view of Yosemite Valley. Most tourists will recognize this view, which includes El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Fall on the right, Half Dome in the distance, and the verdant valley at the base of the massive granite cliffs.
Even though it’s a spectacular sight at any time of day, the walls are largely in shadow in the morning. In the afternoon, when the walls are drenched in sunshine, this view is best appreciated.
When you go from Yosemite Valley to Wawona Road, you will see a parking lot that is immediately past the tunnel. If you’re driving out of the valley to Glacier Point, you’ll pass Tunnel View shortly before entering the tunnel.
4. Yosemite Glacier Point
When driving through Yosemite Valley, it’s common to gaze up to take in the sights. At a height of nearly 7,200 feet, Glacier Point has a breathtaking view of the valley as well as many other sights beyond, giving you a whole new viewpoint. This is one of Yosemite National Park’s most amazing vistas and a must-see attraction.
It takes approximately an hour to drive from Yosemite Village to Glacier Point, although there are other hikes and other lookouts worth seeing in the region.
The Four Mile Journey descends 3,200 feet from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley, ending near Sentinel Rock. The route is over five miles long, despite its name.
Washburn Point, not far from Glacier Point, is another magnificent viewpoint with amazing views of Vernal Fall.
5. Hill Climbing
Yosemite National Park is the most well-known rock-climbing location in the United States, and it represents the peak of many climbers’ careers. Climbers have been drawn to Half Dome and El Capitan for decades.
Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Jim Bridwell, and Alex Honnold, climbing legends and leaders in the sport, all established their names on Yosemite’s walls.
Climbers have been pitching tents at Camp 4 campsite since the 1950s, and it is included on the National Heritage List for its importance in the sport of climbing. Another site so strongly linked with the sport of climbing is difficult to envision.
Climbing is still just as famous as ever in Yosemite, especially with the publication of the short documentary Free Solo in June 2017, which followed Alex Honnold’s epic free solo ascent of El Capitan.
6. Bike riding
Easy bike riding is a good option for families searching for activities to do in Yosemite. In addition to road biking, the park has 12 km of paved pathways.
The paved service road on the north side of the river, which connects to Mirror Lake, is one of the most popular places for casual riding. Many people walk this length, but you may simply bike to the lake’s beginning and walk the remaining short distance to the top area.
Another circle, east of Curry Village (originally Half Dome Village), passes through the trailheads for Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the John Muir Trail.
Bikes, scooters, shuttle buses, and wheelchair-transporting vehicles are the only vehicles allowed on this road. Curry Village has bicycle services accessible.
Things to do in Yellowstone National Park
1. Grand Prismatic Spring (G.P.S)
The Grand Prismatic Spring, or GPS for short, is the one location in Yellowstone National Park that we would recommend exploring.
The adjective “grand” is a good fit for the largest hot spring in the United States and the third-largest in the world. When it refers to these bizarre geothermal phenomena, though, size isn’t everything.
The GPS has rainbow-like hues that start in the center and spread out to the spring’s periphery (thus the term “prismatic”). Blue predominates in the middle, where it is the hottest, but as you approach the hot spring’s boundaries, it gradually changes to green, yellow, and ultimately orange.
The various bacteria that survive at such high temperatures cause this phenomenon. Because the temperature drops as the spring approaches, various colored bacteria reside in different areas of GPS.
As one of Yellowstone’s most popular sights, you should go early in the morning (8 a.m.) or late in the afternoon to see this superstar. Otherwise, you could have a difficult time locating a parking spot!
2. Great Fountain Geyser
If you travel Yellowstone during the summer, you may encounter a large throng. Fortunately, Yellowstone National Park has no lack of spectacular geysers. The Geyser of the Great Fountain The Great Fountain Geyser, which only erupts once a day, reaches a maximum height of 220 feet (67 meters) and lasts almost an hour!
The Great Fountain Geyser’s entire region is extremely enormous, which we thought to be pretty impressive for a geyser.
It’s located in the Lower Geyser Basin, and it’s the ideal spot to unwind, eat a snack (or pack a picnic), and watch mother nature unfold right in front of your eyes!
You should visit one of Yellowstone’s visitor centers to learn when the Great Fountain Geyser erupts. There’s a monitor there that shows the anticipated eruption time for many of the park’s geysers, including the Great Fountain Geyser, Old Faithful, and others.
You can remain up to 4 hours waiting for it to explode because the prognosis is plus-or-minus 2 hours.
This isn’t a location to see if you just have one day here in Yellowstone, but if you have many days in the park, it’s worth adding to your schedule.
3. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which runs for 20 miles and has two waterfalls – the 109-foot-high Upper Falls and the 308-foot-high Lower Falls – was formed by continual erosion by the Yellowstone River’s water.
With such a lengthy span, it’s no wonder that there are several vantage spots from which to enjoy its splendor. While we can’t say which is the finest, Artist Point does provide some spectacular views of the Lower Falls.
Artist Point is named after the paintings created by painters in this area, according to legend. Dramatic white-bleached cliffs surround the enormous Lower Falls.
4. Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs, situated close to the park’s north entrance, is a must-see Yellowstone attraction, particularly if you’re staying in Gardiner, Montana.
But don’t get the wrong idea: it’s not because the Mammoth Hot Springs are relaxing hot springs. They’re very hot, and they might easily melt you away.
The unique inside-out cave look of the Mammoth Hot Springs is what makes it so magnificent.
Due to Yellowstone’s location in a volcanic hotspot, very hot water flows beneath the surface. The water in this area melts the porous limestone and forces the mixture above ground, where it “cools” and produces the travertine terraces you see.
This one-of-a-kind hydrothermal phenomenon can only be seen in Mammoth Hot Springs, and it’s well worth the trip even if you’re staying elsewhere in the park!
5. Hayden Valley Yellowstone
Elks, bison, wolves, bears, and other animals may be seen on each journey to Yellowstone National Park. While you might come across a few bison on the road, nothing compares to seeing them graze freely on Yellowstone’s magnificent plains.
Hayden Valley, located between the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake, is the greatest site in Yellowstone to observe animals. In Yellowstone, Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley are the two finest places to see animals.
While driving by and seeing what’s on the road is generally adequate, tourists are welcome to get out of their automobile and view the animals in greater detail.
Yosemite vs Yellowstone: Nearest airport
Yosemite Nearest Airport
Yosemite has several airport alternatives, making it one of the most accessible parks in the United States. The nearest airport is Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT), about 65 miles south of the park. The Fresno to Yosemite distance is around 112-hours of drive
The park is also within driving distance of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and San Jose International Airport (SJC). However, be aware that the journey will take much longer, with more than 3 hours of driving.
Closest Airport to Yellowstone National park
Fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is roughly an hour and a half from Yellowstone’s North Entrance. If you want to visit either Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, then this regional airport is perfect.
The Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Mont., is a convenient alternative close to the West Entrance. It’s a tiny airport, but that’s only a 10-minute drive from the park. The Idaho Falls Regional Airport is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from West Entrance, but it provides great access to Grand Teton National Park. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is a two-hour drive from the park, is the biggest airport for the West Entrance.
Final thoughts on Yosemite vs Yellowstone
Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park both feature breathtaking landscapes and sights. Yosemite National Park, on the other hand, is the park you should go to first. The Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Redwood Sequoias may be seen from here. Yellowstone, on the other hand, is known for its geothermal activity, which attracts a large number of visitors and provides a more rough setting for those who enjoy being outdoors. If you are planning to visit the Yellowstone National Park soon we have written a great article on why you should visit Yellowstone in September you can check it out here
Yosemite National Park is a national treasure with it all: easy access from major towns, nature trails, breathtaking vistas, mountains, forests, waterfalls, excellent accommodation, and animals! A couple of these characteristics aren’t present in Yellowstone. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sights and create great memories. After reading this article you have made your mind to visit the beautiful Yosemite National park, check out the Yosemite Airbnb article here we talked about the best places to stay in Yosemite.