5. Embrace the lesser-known
There’s no denying the likes of Grand Prismatic Spring deserve to feature among Yellowstone’s blockbuster sights, but there’s an awful lot more where that came from. Around half the world’s geysers simmer away within the park’s boundaries, and there are tens of thousands of hydrothermal features.
With all that, there’s no reason to join the tour groups. Those after a good geyser explosion should take the 5-mile return trail to the far less-visited Lone Star, the largest in Yellowstone’s backcountry. Pack a picnic though, as eruptions only occur every three hours.
Also worth a trip is Black Pool in the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which has changed colour over the years from deep green to a vivid teal – it’s ample fodder for your Instagram feed.
6. Discover alternative views
Stand-out sights like Mammoth Hot Springs are surrounded by boardwalks – and these can get jam-packed when the coaches arrive. If you’re still keen to check them out, but would rather not stand elbow-to-elbow with tourists, then it might be worth simply seeking out an alternative view.
The 5-mile return path to Fairy Falls is a great option, as the trail ascends to a beautiful aerial perspective of Grand Prismatic Spring’s opalescent pool.
Another good bet is Uncle Tom’s Trail, which plunges into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and offers excellent views of the Yellowstone River hurtling over Lower Falls.
7. Seek insider tips
Whether you’re after the whereabouts of wolf pups or the latest on where to spot wolverines (tricky at the best of times), local people are your best sources of information – and following their advice is a great way to veer off the tourist trail. One way to tap into this is to join the superb local guides at Yellowstone Forever on a tour of the park.
Spend a day exploring the northern range, learning everything from how to identify bear prints to what moose eat (willow, for the record).
It’s also likely you’ll spot crowds of local wildlife-watchers in the Lamar Valley, and they’re excellent sources for wolf-related gossip.
Georgia stayed at Bridge Bay Campsite and Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park, Gray Wolf Inn & Suites in West Yellowstone and Best Western Grantree Inn in Bozeman. AmeriCan & Worldwide Travel offer a similar trip with hotel stays, flights and car hire. For more information on the Real America, visit www.realamerica.co.uk. All photos by Georgia Stephens.