If the National Parks Service was the best idea America ever had, then Yellowstone -- the first national park not only in the US but in the world -- is its crowning achievement. Larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, the park spans three different states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho), is home to 67 species of mammals, 290 waterfalls, 1,800 archaeological sites, and, as you may or may not remember from the doomsday movie 2012, sits on top of an active volcano.
Yellowstone is sublimely beautiful, at times hostile, dangerous, even deadly -- just ask the guy who literally dissolved in boiling acid after falling into Norris Geyser Basin. But that doesn’t deter millions of visitors from making the journey each year. As evidenced by these photos, a trip to Yellowstone is an awe-inspiring education on the badass complexities of nature. Here are some of the park's most magnificent sights to see.