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Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park

The Hayden Valley is situated on both sides of the Yellowstone River between Yellowstone Falls and Yellowstone Lake. This seven mile long valley is home to a vast array of species, and should be a must see on any naturalist's bucket list.

Those wishing to visit the valley on foot have two options to enter, the Hayden Valley and Mary Mountain Trails. The Mary Mountain Trail is 21 miles long, however the first six miles from the trail head are along the ridge of the valley. The hike is only moderately difficult and can be completed by just about anyone. The Hayden Valley Trail however is a much more difficult 14 mile route during which hikers have been known to encounter grizzly bears. This trail traverses vast open areas throughout the valley, however due to this it is difficult to find cover from the sun and hikers should prepare accordingly. Those not up to the strenuous task of hiking can drive to some of the valley's viewing areas, however it is recommended to get out of the car to fully appreciate the majesty around you. Aside from the typical coyote, grizzly bear, and elk one may see in Yellowstone, this valley is also home to the largest rut of free roaming bison anywhere in the world.

The bison alone are good enough reason to warrant a visit to this portion of the park if you find yourself in Wyoming. A chance to see these rare creatures in the wild should not be passed up. Aside from the wildlife the valley offers stunning views and is only a short hike or drive from several beautiful waterfalls.


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