Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous parks in the country, but just because it's popular doesn't mean it isn't loaded with hidden gems and incredible secrets. With historic ghost towns, loads of hot springs, mysterious musical rocks, and some of America's best fly fishing, Yellowstone and the surrounding area offer up more than just Old Faithful. Take a road trip through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to uncover it all!
1925 Melrose Lane, Rockwall, Texas
Interstate 40, Amarillo, TX, US
11500 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO, US
Colorado 17, Hooper, CO, US
The perfect way to start your Yellowstone adventures is by heading to Montana's Bannack State Park, where you can take a stroll through one of America's best preserved ghost towns.
Bannack is home to more than 50 buildings, each of them still standing, empty and abandoned, along what was once a bustling Old West main street.
Our Lady of The Rockies is an incredible 90-foot statue that sits atop the Continental Divide overlooking Butte, Montana.
The second-tallest statue in the United States (after The Statue of Liberty), the massive likeness of the Virgin Mary even has a secret entrance that you can peek inside, but be prepared to be moved: The walls are covered in letters and mementos left by visitors in memory of their loved ones.
For a really interesting experience, head 18 miles east of Butte and visit Montana's Ringing Rocks, which are exactly what they sound like.
The rocks in this strange geologic area let out a mysterious chime when tapped lightly with a hammer. No one is sure exactly why, but if a boulder is removed from the pile, it doesn't ring anymore!
Make sure to bring your own hammer.
The great thing about a trip to Norris Hot Springs is that it feels like you're visiting a world-class spa, but without the world-class prices. A dip in the hot springs will only cost you $7.
Every night, the rich mineral water is pumped into the pools, only to be recycled back into the environment later that evening, which is good for you... and the environment.
If you're bedding down in Cody, head to Cody KOA Holiday for a classic camping experience with extra amenities you won't find anywhere else. They even have a shuttle that will take you to the local rodeo!
For a really unique stay, rent one of the Deluxe Cabins. These digs are loaded with everything you need for a comfortable weekend exploring the Old West: a kitchen with all of the pots and pans, a full-size fridge, bunk beds, and air conditioning.
Need to take a day off from fishing? Hop in the pool, hit the massive jumping bag, or just relax by your very own fire.
Casper, WY, US
756 Battlefield Tour Road, Crow Agency, MT, US
63960 Gallatin Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT, US
Mammoth Hot Springs, Mammoth, WY, US
No visit to Wyoming is complete without a visit to the Mammoth Hot Springs. These otherworldly springs are crazy hot (which means no swimming), but can be experienced from winding boardwalks that wrap around the park.
It gets pretty warm, but here's a tip: The visitor's center serves ice cream to help you cool off.
Undine Falls, WY, US
NE Entrance Rd, Yellowstone National Park,, WY, US
Fish aren't the only wildlife worth discovering in the Yellowstone region! With a drive through Lamar Valley, you can get in touch with nature without leaving your car. Foxes, bear, and herds of bison and elk are all common sights on this scenic route, but be prepared to take your time: The bison have a habit of causing some amusing traffic jams.
Want the best experience? Visit early in the morning when you'll beat traffic and get a better chance at seeing the animals.
Near Canyon Village, WY, US
Considered by many to be the highlight of the whole park, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has to be seen to be believed. The drive offers astounding views of the rugged cliffs and rushing waterfalls, and if you time it just right, you'll catch sight of the iconic rainbow featured in so many of the canyon's stunning photographs. Bonus: The Yellowstone River and Yellowstone Lake above the falls have some pretty awesome fly fishing, especially during the salmonfly hatch in mid-July.
Yellowstone Lake, WY, US
There's a good chance you'll spot this crazy work of art from the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway, but this 75-foot-high structure is worth a closer look.
The Smith Mansion looks like some kind of bizarre Dr. Seuss illustration come to life, and is what resulted when a man decided to build his own house... but just couldn't stop building.
Since the owner's death in 1992, the Smith Mansion has sat untouched (it's too dangerous to actually enter), but every year, thousands of curious travelers drive the byway and stop to see the structure—it's a great photo op.
This surprisingly beautiful reservoir is one of Wyoming's most interesting hidden gems. The Buffalo Bill Dam, known formerly as the Shoshone Dam, is an engineering marvel tucked away on the side the mountain canyon. Hop in an electric buggy for a tour that brings you right up to the dam, and learn about its construction and storied life in a fun and interactive way.
The best part? The tour is free!
With some of the best fishing hot spots in the nation, incredible hidden gems, and comfy KOA campgrounds, Yellowstone is a sure bet for your Western adventure. You'll leave with memories to last a lifetime-- and plenty of fish, too.