Which National Parks Are Like Yellowstone?
We liked that one.
Where can we go that’s like that?
While nothing can truly replace the unique magic that is Yellowstone National Park, if you’ve already crossed it off your #parkchasing bucket list, and you’re on the hunt for your next vacation, we’re glad you stopped by today. Today we’re reaching out to everyone that had a great time in Yellowstone but is searching for their next destination around the park service.
We took a look at some of the most popular features of Yellowstone (geothermal features, bison, wolves, etc.) and created a list of recommendations for other parks in the National Park Service where you can find the same things.
We hope the list encourages you to keep checking parks off your list (and to visit some of our country’s other great places!) Click the links below to jump straight to your favorite feature of Yellowstone:
- If you like geothermal features…
- If you like bison…
- If you like UNESCO World Heritage Sites…
- If you like grand canyons…
- If you like wolves…
- If you like ‘old’ national parks…
- If you like grizzly bears…
- If you like historic lodges…
If you like geothermal features…
While Yellowstone contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, there are other parks in the National Park Service where you can experience hot springs and geothermal processes.
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is nicknamed “The American Spa” in part because people have been coming for thousands of years to take a dip in the park’s thermal pools. Founded in 1832, the park’s famous Bathhouse Row is a National Historic Landmark District and a hallmark of the ‘business’ of geothermal features.
The same goes for Sol Duc Hot Springs located inside Olympic National Park. After a day of hiking around Sol Duc Falls and the Olympic range, return to the resort’s established pools or hike to one of the backcountry springs in the Elwha Valley.
If fumaroles and mud pots are more your style, then head to Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. The thermal features here are heated by Lassen Peak, a volcano that last erupted in 1915.
If you like bison…
It’s hard to drive anywhere in Yellowstone National Park without seeing a bison roaming the landscape. If you’re looking for national parks like Yellowstone, with plenty of opportunities to view these gentle giants you’re in luck. Today there are 17 different herds living on federally managed lands. Check out a few of these park units for top-notch bison watching:
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
If you like UNESCO World Heritage Sites…
If one of the things you liked best was the preservation of the unique landscapes and landmarks, then you’ll be glad to know that there are 18 other sites managed by the National Park Service that carry the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. These include:
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
- Everglades National Park, Florida
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
- Independence Hall, part of Independence National Historical Park, Pennsylvania
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
- Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
- Olympic National Park, Washington
- Redwood National Park and State Parks, California
- La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas
- The Statue of Liberty, part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York
- Kluane/Wrangell-St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatsheshini-Alsek, Alaska
- Yosemite National Park, California
If you like grand canyons…
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of the most stunning (and popular features) of the park. If standing in awe of millions of years of wind and water erosion gets your blood flowing, there are plenty of other good choices for canyon viewing in the National Park Service.
First and foremost, visit Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. You’d be surprised how many visitors to Yellowstone have yet to see one the grandest of American canyons. Spend time on both the North and South Rim to get a full experience of why this is one of the most popular national parks.
King’s Canyon located in California’s King’s Canyon National Park is well known for having some of the steepest vertical relief in the United States. John Muir enjoyed his time here along the Kings River and in the groves of giant sequoias that live near the canyon rim.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado is also well known for steep canyon walls and millions of years of erosion by the Gunnison River. Similar to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, viewing points along the rim and options to hike into the rim are good choices for day trips in the park.
If you like wolves…
One of the most studied animal species in all of Yellowstone National Park is the wolf. Yellowstone’s wolves are world famous. The restoration and research projects to return the packs from the brink of extinction are recognized as some of the greatest achievements in National Park history.
If wolf research and restoration interests you and your family, there are two other national parks worth visiting. Denali National Park in Alaska and Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior both have large wolf research projects underway.
While the chances are low that you’ll encounter a wolf in either park (Denali’s wilderness area is vast and the wolf population on Isle Royale is low), there is still a chance. Regardless, the National Park Service offers excellent programming about current wolf research in both parks.
If you like ‘old’ national parks…
Protected in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was America’s first national park. While the National Park Service would not come around until 1916, there are other parks designated in the earliest years of federal land preservation.
If you like ‘old’ national parks, plan to visit the 5 oldest national parks in the United States:
- Sequoia National Park, California (founded in 1890)
- Yosemite National Park, California (founded in 1890)
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (founded in 1899)
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (founded in 1902)
- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota (founded in 1903)
If you like grizzly bears…
If you’re lucky enough to spend an hour or two watching a grizzly bear while in Yellowstone National Park it can be a profound and memorable experience. While it’s not a great idea to go “searching” for grizzly bears, there are a few national parks like Yellowstone with resident grizzly populations.
In the Lower 48, your best chances to spot grizzly bears are in Yellowstone’s neighbor, Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park in Montana, and North Cascades National Park in Washington. Otherwise, head north to Alaska for some of the best grizzly bear viewing opportunities in the world. These are just a few of the parks in Alaska with grizzly bears:
- Denali National Park and Preserve
- Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
- Katmai National Park and Preserve
- Kenai Fjords National Park
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
- Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
If you like historic lodges…
Old Faithful Inn, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are some of the most popular historic lodges in all of the National Park Service. A few nights in these grand hotels can take you back in time like few other places can. However, there are other national parks like Yellowstone that have historic lodging options. If you enjoyed a visit at Old Faithful Inn, check out David and Kay Scott’s “The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges” (affiliate link) and spend a night in one of these places:
- El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Grant Grove Villiage, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, California
- Yosemite Ahwahnee Lodge, Yosemite National Park, California
- Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
- Rock Harbor Lodge, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
- Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana
- Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
- The Chateau at the Oregon Caves, Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon
- Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, Utah
- Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic National Park, Washington
- Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming