Often when we talk about Yellowstone, we think of geysers, fumaroles, hydrothermal areas, large lakes, thundering waterfalls, and more rarely, its majestic and verdant valleys. These real natural paradises deserve to be visited nearly for two reasons: their intrinsic beauty and the very high probability of sighting animals. Bison, bear, deer, moose, antelope, wolves, eagles, and many other specimens of Yellowstone fauna inhabit the areas of Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley, and crossing these valleys is equivalent to taking a small safari among the North American fauna (for fans of the theme I also point out my article on where to see bears and other wildlife in Yellowstone and Grand Teton). If you plan to visit the stunning valleys of Yellowstone, try making your flight bookings using Spirit Airlines reservations for the best deals and offers.
Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley
These two splendid valleys can be crossed peacefully by car, often at walking pace due to the traffic caused by the crossing of animals and also possibly due to the drivers drive with widened eyes and get amazed watching the incredible beauty. So let’s find out what awaits us crossing the Valleys of Yellowstone.
This lush valley that stretches for about 50 square miles rises along the Yellowstone River. It lies in the area between the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone lake. In Hayden Valley, you can observe a remarkable variety of animals, even if here, more than in any other place in the park, the undisputed rulers are bison, that travelers witness in large herds and blocking traffic passing perhaps a few centimeters from your car.
Bison, moose, black and grizzly bears, wolves, antelopes, eagles, and coyotes are just some of the animal species that you can admire while crossing Lamar Valley, which has been renamed the Serengeti of America due to its rich fauna. The valley is located between Tower Junction and the north-east entrance (Cooke City), outside the so-called Grand Loop, the “8” -a shaped path that touches all (or almost) the main attractions of the park, and runs along the Lamar Road, a stretch of approximately 29 miles, the only road in Yellowstone that is open all year round.
Difference Between Hayden and Lamar
The differences are not substantial, so my advice is to include both valleys in your trip to Yellowstone. However, sometimes time is running out and can force you to choose: which one to prefer? The answer is not that simple. I would not rely too much on the greater probability of seeing individual animals or not, as you can never be sure of meeting, for example, a bear in one valley rather than another. Still, I would instead focus on the logistical aspect / organizational: if the weather does not allow you to visit both valleys, you will likely find yourself almost “forced” to lean towards Hayden Valley, basically because it’s easier to fit into an itinerary, being on the Grand Loop and closer to other major attractions. A final, personal note to reinforce what has been said is that, without detracting from Lamar Valley, the beauty of some Hayden Valley landscapes is, in my opinion, perhaps a step just above. Still, it is a purely subjective opinion and not very relevant.
If you plan to visit these beautiful valleys, try making your flight bookings using Frontier Airlines reservations options for the best flying experience ever!
Have a safe and happy trip!