Best Things to Do in Yellowstone and Tips for Getting it Right



Yellowstone has been one of my favorite National Parks to visit! From an abundance of wildlife to geothermal features, you’re in for a treat! After our Yellowstone road trip through Montana and Wyoming, there were definitely a few travel tips we picked up. In this guide, I am sharing Yellowstone travel tips to help you have the best trip!

Below you will find 16 travel tips for visiting Yellowstone along with helpful links to my Yellowstone itinerary, top attractions, and more!

In Yellowstone Hiking to Artist Paintpots travel tips to stay on
Hike to Artist Paintpots

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Disclosure 

Contents

The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone

The best time to visit Yellowstone really depends on when you have time to take your vacation. With that being said, the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park, in general, is from Spring until Fall.

While you can still visit in the Winter, many of the roads including the Grand Loop Road are closed due to very heavy snowfall. If you really want to visit during the winter, the best way to do it is with a guided tour. Usually, winter is the best time to see wolves. 

The Summer is when most Yellowstone attractions are open, but also the busiest time. We visited during the 4th of July and while packed, we avoided tons of traffic by starting our days early. 

September through October in Yellowstone will see fewer crowds. You will have an opportunity to experience Yellowstone’s Elk rut (mating season).

Elk in front of the Albright Visitors Center Yellowstone travel tips to keep a safe distance
Elk in front of the Albright Visitors Center

Yellowstone is Best Explored by Car

When planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, having or renting a car is the best way to see the park. There are companies that offer tours in Yellowstone, however, by having your own car, you can explore the park at your own pace. If you are flying into Montana/Wyoming, you can find Rental Cars here! 

The park has 6 gas stations/service stations located at Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful (Lower and Upper), Fishing Bridge, Canyon, Grant Village, Lake Village, and Tower. With that being said, you should fill up your gas tank whenever possible, make sure to have a spare tire and first aid kit. 

Lodging Travel Tips For Yellowstone National Park

Generally, I have always been a last-minute planner. If you’re like me, this is one of those Yellowstone travel tips you will really want to take into consideration.

Because Yellowstone is such a popular park (especially now), lodging is known to be booked up inside the park a year in advance! Crazy right? 

Even outside the park, many of the best lodges by the gate entrances will be booked up too, so if you haven’t booked your lodging yet, this is your sign!

Yellowstone Lodges inside the Park

Yellowstone has 9 lodges and 12 campgrounds.  Some of the most popular lodges are Old Faithful Inn, Canyon Lodge and Cabins, and Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cottages. All Yellowstone Lodging can be booked directly from Yellowstone’s Official Website.

Keep in mind that many of the campgrounds and lodges close in the fall/winter. Generally, the month of October is when everything starts to close. The only campground that is open all year is Mammoth Campground.

Alternatively, you can book Vrbo or hotel accommodations outside the gate of Yellowstone. This is what we did. 

West Yellowstone Accommodations

We chose to stay at the West Gate of Yellowstone which is the closest entrance to Grand Prismatic Springs and Old Faithful. This makes the West gate very popular to stay around. 

Crosswinds Inn: The lodge features a pool, complimentary breakfast and is located .9 miles from the West Yellowstone Entrance. This is about 30 minutes from Old Faithful. As a bonus, they are also pet-friendly.

Kelly Inn West Yellowstone: Another top-rated hotel located in West Yellowstone. This hotel offers complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a sauna. Kelly Inn is pet-friendly and 3 minutes from the Yellowstone entrance.

Best Western Weston Inn: This property is also .9 miles from the West Yellowstone entrance. It has a pool and hot tub, complimentary breakfast, and is pet-friendly.

You will also find Vrbo properties in the area.

West Yellowstone is a good place to stay travel tips
Walking around the town in West Yellowstone

Yellowstone North Entrance

Another popular entrance is the North Entrance by Gardiner, Montana. It is located North of Mammoth Springs and is a good option if you are coming from Glacier National Park. If you are visiting Yellowstone during the winter months, this entrance tends to be open all year. View available lodging at:

Booking.com | Hotels.com

Yellowstone South Entrance

The South Entrance is popular for those going to or coming from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson hole.

Therefore, this makes the Yellowstonestone South Entrance a hot commodity. If you are planning on doing a West Coast Road trip through the parks, you might want to also book your lodging at the South Entrance as well.

Booking.com | Hotels.com

Yellowstone East Gate Entrance

You might consider the East Gate Entrance if you are coming cross-country from Wyoming. This entrance will put you near West Thumb Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake. From Yellowstone lake, you can head North to Canyon Village, or head West to Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Springs.

Booking.com | Hotels.com

Yellowstone Northeast Entrance

This entrance in Cooke City, Montana will bring you through tons of wildlife as you make your way through Lamar Valley. 

Booking.com | Hotels.com

Yellowstone Road Map with Delays
Screenshot from NPS 2022 Yellowstone Road Work

There is Very Little Cell Phone Reception in Yellowstone National Park

Planning on using trusty Google Maps, think again! We were a group of 4 families and all had different cellphone providers. That being said, it was pretty rare for any of us to have service.

Therefore, another one of my top tips for visiting Yellowstone includes investing (or looking through your garage) for one of those old-school GPS.

If you don’t already have one, I’d recommend getting a TOM TOM or Garner car GPS that works on satellite. Additionally, I would highly recommend downloading the Yellowstone National Park app

Not only does the app allow you to download maps beforehand so you can use them offline, but it also alerts you of road and attraction closures and more! Just make sure you download the app before you get in the park. 

Since we are on the topic of maps and GPS, if you plan on doing any hiking in Yellowstone, you might also want to consider downloading All Trails app as a backup. We did very light hiking in Yellowstone and found the trails were marked very well, but it never hurts to have a backup.

Watching out for buffalo is an important yellowstone tips

Plan Your Yellowstone Itinerary Ahead of Time

Yellowstone is not the place I’d recommend just winging it. Having a thought-out itinerary will help you in the long run. You can use this detailed 2 day itinerary in Yellowstone to start planning your trip. 

In this Yellowstone Itinerary, I have split the days by doing the Bottom Loop on day 1 which has most of the attractions, and the Upper loop section for your second day. The Yellowstone Highways are in the shape of an 8, which is what is meant by the upper and lower loop.

It is a very busy itinerary that can be spread into 3 or 4 days in Yellowstone depending on how fast you plan on driving through Yellowstone. 

Alternatively, if you are only planning 1 day in Yellowstone, I’d suggest doing day 1 (lower loop) or checking out this guide of the best Yellowstone attractions

Grand Prismatic Springs is a must-see on any Yellowstone Itinerary
Grand Prismatic Springs

Plan to Start Your Days in Yellowstone Early and End Your Days Late

Yellowstone is almost 3,500 sq miles and includes the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. There is tons of ground to cover, so starting your days early is best (8 am- 9 am should be ok).

Moreover, the earlier you get into the park, the less crowded the attractions will be. This means you won’t have to tirelessly look for a parking spot! 

So, if you start your day early, why should you end the day late? Because golden hour (right before the sun is setting) is quite magical. One of our favorite places to see the sun start to set was at Canyon Village by the Lower Falls (known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone). 

Make sure to add the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to your Itinerary
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – A must on every itinerary!

Pack Your Clothing layers

It may be summer in Yellowstone, but we were very shocked to find out the mornings and nights were in the 30’s! Yep, basically below freezing. Therefore, you will want to make sure you pack layers in the car. 

During the afternoon, it gets hot. Shorts, tank top, and sunburn hot.  This is why you should bring easy-to-throw-on layers. A sweater/jacket and sweat pants should do the trick. 

I’d also recommend keeping an eye on the weather for Yellowstone a week out before packing. This will help give you an idea of what the temperatures might be.

If Boiling River is open which is a swimmable hot spring, also consider packing your bathing suit.

See my full Yellowstone Packing Guide here!

Lamar Valley Yellowstone National Park wildlife spotting travel tips

Plan for Traffic Jams

Besides Yellowstone hitting all-time highs for park visitors, Yellowstone has been doing road work for the past couple of years. This will alter traffic, so you will always want to check road conditions and closures before you visit. Current Yellowstone road conditions.

Many times traffic jams are actually caused by animals either crossing, hanging out in the road, or being close by the road. If you see a lot of cars pulled over, there is probably an animal sitting nearby. 

Depending on how long it takes the animals to move, will determine how long you are “stuck”. Recently there was even a video that went viral of a bison calf deciding it was time to take a nap in the middle of the road. It was quite adorable if you were close enough to see! 

Yellowstone Travel Tips: Animals cross the road all the time, so please keep a close eye on the road and don’t go over the speed limit. We are in the park enjoying their land, not the other way around.

Buffalo traffic jam in Yellowstone
These Buffalo finally decided to move to the side of the road

Best Time To See Wildlife in Yellowstone

Besides waterfalls, picturesque landscapes and geothermal features,  one of the main reasons people love coming to Yellowstone National Park is for the Wildlife. Therefore, you should know when the best time to see it. 

The best time to see wildlife in the park is generally in the early morning and in the late afternoon when it’s not as hot. This is when animals tend to be more active. 

That is not to say you won’t see wildlife during other hours of the day. We saw bison just about everywhere we went throughout our hold time in Yellowstone. 

Some of the main wildlife you can expect to see in the park includes are American Buffalo (bison), Elk, Big Horn Sheep, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Coyotes, an abundance of birds, and Wolves.

And if you are specifically on the search for wildlife, some of the best places to spot animals are at Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley. 

Add Hayden Valley to your Yellowstone Itinerary to see Buffalo
Buffalo grazing in Hayden Valley

Bring Binoculars or a Good Camera

Another one of my top Yellowstone travel tips is to bring binoculars or a good camera. You should always view wildlife at a far distance, therefore, you will need something with some zoom! For cameras, I’d recommend a lens that can reach at least 100 mm. Check out my updated photography gear here!

Speaking of photography, you are not allowed to fly drones in National Parks. Yellowstone is no exception. 

If you are not a photographer or photography enthusiast, consider a pair of binoculars. This is one travel tip I wish I knew before visiting Yellowstone. I only had a 50mm lens at the time, so having a pair of binoculars (which is way less than a new lens) would have been very helpful!

Wildlife at Lamar Valley. Binoculars or a zoom lens would be great here.

Larmar Valley is a must on your Yellowstone Itinerary for lots of wildlife
Wildlife at Lamar Valley. Binoculars would be great here.

Keep a Safe Distance from Wildlife

This is one of those Yellowstone travel tips you need to follow. Of course, we want to see wildlife up close, however, keeping a safe distance is VERY important. 

I know it can be tempting to take selfies with wildlife and maybe you saw someone else who did it, but the reality is that these animals weigh hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. Many people have lost their lives from animal encounters gone wrong. This is why the park and rangers have set rules on safe distances. 

If you plan to do a lot of hiking, you may also want to get bear spray. You will find both Black bears and Grizzly bears in Yellowstone. Here is Yellowstone bear safety tips.

If you do get bear spray, DO NOT bring it on the plane. They are highly flammable. 

Grizzly bear spotting on the East side of the upper loop heading towards Lamar Valley

Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone National Park travel tips to learn bear saftey
Grizzly bear spotting on the East side of the upper loop heading towards Lamar Valley

Don’t Forget to Pack Snacks & Water

I never leave for a road trip without snacks & my reusable water bottle and Yellowstone is no exception. My go-to is wheat thins (don’t laugh), but you will be in the car for a long time. So whatever kind of snack you prefer, pack it!

Just make sure not to leave these snacks in your car at night. Bears can be quite mischievous. 

Make Sure You Leave No Trace

Please remember to leave the park as you found it; clean, beautiful, and full of nature. If you bring snacks or any types of perishables, I beg you to please properly dispose of them. Not only does this keep Yellowstone beautiful for other guests, but also helps protect the animals.

West Thumb Geyser is a great place to add to your Yellowstone Itinerary
Paintpots

Learn About Yellowstone’s History

Another travel tip to consider is learning a little about Yellowstone National Park history to enhance your trip. Archeologists have traced people living on these lands for over 15,000 years. Before Yellowstone was ever thought to be a park, Natives used these lands for hunting, performed rituals, and used the thermal springs. 

In fact, 27 Native American tribes can be traced back to the lands of Yellowstone including the Cayuse, Coeur d’Alene Nez, Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Perce tribes. 

Europeans first started exploring Yellowstone in the 1800s and on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone became the first National Park in the United States! 

Did you know Yellowstone got its name from the Yellowstone River, which was the name given by the Minnetaree Tribe?  

The park also has a lot of geologic significance and history! For example, the park has more than 10,000 hydrothermal features which are the most undisturbed hydrothermal features left in the world! Yellowstone is also a supervolcano and is known to be one of the largest eruptions to ever happen in the world!

Lonely Planet Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks 6 (Travel Guide)

Frommer’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (Complete Guide)

Stay on Path and Follow the Rules

This is one of those Yellowstone travel tips I think goes without saying, but here it is. Not to scare you, but Yellowstone can be dangerous. Remember, Yellowstone National Park is in fact a supervolcano meaning that these geysers and pools of water can be scorching hot. 

Therefore, please stay on the designated trails. If you accidentally drop something and it falls off the path, get help from a ranger. Do NOT attempt it on your own.

Moreover, please make sure you are following all the other rules of the park. This allows future generations to enjoy the first National Park in the United States! And if you see something, please say something. 

Entrance into Midway Geyser Basin
Entrance into Midway Geyser Basin

Consider Doing Other Activities in Yellowstone Other Than Sight-Seeing

Since we only had 2 days in Yellowstone, we drove to see the top sites and look for wildlife, however, there is more to do in Yellowstone than just driving, stopping, and looking. 

If you have a considerable amount in Yellowstone, here are some other activities you can do other than driving around the park. 

  • Ride Horses with a or even bring your own to ride. Learn more. 
  • Go fishing for trout (lead-free tackle only).
  • Enjoy Kayaking or Canoeing. If you bring your own, you’ll need a permit and a Yellowstone aquatic invasive species inspection.
  • Ski, snowshoe, or ride snowmobiles in the winter!
  • Ride bikes, go hiking, or camp a night. See where to rent bikes and go biking here.
View from the top of Artist Paintpots
Overlook from Artist Paint Pots

Getting Your Yellowstone Entrance Ticket

Yellowstone National Park comes with just a small price tag. It costs $35 USD per private vehicle for a 7-day pass.

Note: If you are planning on also visiting Grand Teton, this ticket does not cover you. Tickets can be given upon entrance.

If you plan on visiting Yellowstone more often, you can also get an annual pass for $70 USD. However,  for $80 USD (purchased annually) you can get the America the Beautiful Pass. This will allow you entrance into all national parks and federal recreational land for one year. Furthermore, the pass works for up to 4 adults in one car.

Purchase America the Beautiful passes here, or at your local REI. If you are over the age of 62, you can actually get a lifetime National Park Pass.  This will be good for everyone in your car (I believe).

Moreover, there are some free national park days. Keep in mind these will likely be the busiest days to visit. 

Getting to Yellowstone Travel Tips

If you are not planning on doing a cross-country road trip, your next option would be to fly.

Depending on where you are located, getting to Yellowstone can be tricky. We came from New York, so it was easiest to fly into Bozeman, Montana (BZN).

Other airports to fly to include Cody, Wyoming(COD), Billings, Montana(BIL), and Jackson, Wyoming(JAC). You can also a limited seasonal service to West Yellowstone, Montana(WYS).

Check Skyscanner for your best options to fly into for the most reasonable price.

Add Old Faithful to your Yellowstone Itinerary as its the most popular feature in the park
Old Faithful eruption

Travel Tips for Visiting Yellowstone: Wrap-up

This covers my top travel tips for visiting Yellowstone National Park! I hope you have the best time exploring this incredible park. 

Other guides you might enjoy: Easy Hiking Trails in Yellowstone | One Day in Death Valley National Park | One Day in Joshua Tree National Park | Ultimate Blue Ridge Park Parkway Road Trip

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will get back to you! 

Visiting Yellowstone National Park travel tips

FAQs

How should I prepare for Yellowstone?

What to Pack for Your Yellowstone Vacation

  1. Binoculars or a Spotting Scope to See Bears and Wolves. …
  2. Bear Spray. …
  3. A Sun Hat, Sunglasses and Sunscreen. …
  4. Sturdy Hiking Boots. …
  5. A Rain Jacket. …
  6. A Couple Water Bottles or a Hydration System. …
  7. Warm and Cold Clothing Layers. …
  8. A Star Chart.

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What should I do first time at Yellowstone?

Things You Need to See During Your First Time Visiting Yellowstone

  1. Old Faithful. …
  2. Artist Point. …
  3. Mud Volcano Area. …
  4. Pelican Creek Nature Trail. …
  5. Grand Prismatic Spring. …
  6. Mammoth Hot Springs. …
  7. West Thumb Geyser Basin. …
  8. Norris Geyser Basin.

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How many days do you need for Yellowstone National Park?

Ideally, you need at least three or four days to visit Yellowstone National Park. However, if you are short on time, you can get to the main highlights, even if you just have a day or two

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What you need to know before going to Yellowstone National Park?

The best time to enter is before 8am or after 11am. The West Entrance to Yellowstone is the busiest, and rightfully so, as it arguably has the most to see right around it. But that means that from 8-11am, you’re likely to see long lines of cars waiting to enter the park snaking into the town of West Yellowstone

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What is the best month to visit Yellowstone National Park?

The best months to visit Yellowstone are April, September, and October. These ?off season? months provide more chances to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife and enjoy thinner crowds. Bears emerge from hibernation between March and April, migrating birds arrive just before May, and the elk rut begins mid-September.

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What should I be careful of in Yellowstone?

As reported in the book ?Death in Yellowstone1?, there have been numerous causes of death throughout the region’s history, including violent confrontations between people, wagon accidents, falling trees, poisonous gases, drownings, falling into hot springs, and, of course, encounters with wildlife.

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How long does it take to drive the loop in Yellowstone?

Simply driving the entire distance, whether going clockwise or counter, could take four to seven hours. And even if the speed limit is 45 mph, you’ll want to take your sweet time, especially around the winding turns, epic scenery and stopped traffic due to wildlife in or near the road.

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Is it better to stay in Yellowstone or outside?

Because Yellowstone has five different entrances into the park, it’s easy to stay close to the park without actually being in the park. I recommend staying outside of Yellowstone if you want nicer amenities, cheaper prices, or more dining and activity options.

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Is bear spray necessary in Yellowstone?

Whether you’re heading to Yellowstone National Park to go hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, or simply to take photographs, it is critical that you carry bear spray (and know how to use it!)

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What are the chances of seeing a bear in Yellowstone?

The chances of you seeing a bear as you walk or drive around Yellowstone is virtually nil. On the last trip, we stopped every time we passed the area where mama bear was hanging out with her two cubs (along with dozens of others) and only caught sight of a cub as we drove past on the last day in a van.

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Will bear spray stop a grizzly?

?There are reasons why bear spray should be the first choice for anybody recreating in bear country,? he says, pointing to Smith’s research in Alaska that showed bear spray to be 92 percent effective in deterring attacks by grizzly, black and polar bears.

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13 Tips & Tricks for Visiting Yellowstone National Park

13 Tips & Tricks for Visiting Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park is a place like no other. The park is so big, so diverse, and so unique that it just can’t compare to any other spot on the planet. However, Yellowstone is also a place that requires some advance planning and preparation. If you want to enjoy your Yellowstone vacation to the fullest and make the most of your trip, there are some things that you should know in advance. It can make a difference between it becoming your dream trip or a frustrating experience. In this article, we share some essential tips for visiting Yellowstone. Make the most of your trip – find out! Good to know: You’ll need an entrance pass for visiting Yellowstone National Park. It costs 35 USD per private vehicle and is valid for 7 days. However, if you are visiting several National Parks in the same year, it’s better to get an annual National Parks Pass. It’s called America the Beautiful Pass and costs 80 USD for the whole family traveling in the same vehicle. It is valid in all National Parks and 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States for one year from the month of purchase. Without further ado, here are our top tips for Yellowstone: 1. Book in Advance Yellowstone is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States. Furthermore, the main season to visit Yellowstone is rather short. So when planning a trip to Yellowstone, you really have to book your accommodation in advance! To give you an idea, if you want to stay inside the park in summer, you have to book your Yellowstone hotel more than a year in advance! Luckily, there are also some alternatives, small towns near Yellowstone that you can use as a base for some day trips into the park. But also there, the sooner you book the more availability you have and the better the prices. Good to know: When considering where to stay, keep in mind that Yellowstone has a very limited mobile network and Wi-Fi coverage is very poor. Furthermore, Yellowstone accommodations have no TVs or air conditioning. So if you absolutely need these facilities, you’re probably better off staying in the hotels outside the park – more info below. TIP: If you are visiting Yellowstone on a lower budget, you should also know that lodging outside the park is much cheaper than Yellowstone hotels. The same counts for food or fuel – it’s more expensive in the park. Good to know: The best-located towns to stay at for sightseeing are West Yellowstone (for the majority of the park) or Gardiner (for the northern side of Yellowstone). READ MORE: Best Places to Stay In and Near YellowstoneBest Hotels & Cabins Near Yellowstone National Park TIP: Using the map below, you can compare hotels, apartments, and short-term rental accommodations in West Yellowstone. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see what’s available for your stay. You can also use the same map for Gardiner accommodation – you just have to change the location to see all the best deals in other places. Check it out! 2. Prepare a Good Itinerary Yellowstone is big and many first-time visitors underestimate…

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Best Things to Do in Yellowstone and Tips for Getting it Right

Best Things to Do in Yellowstone and Tips for Getting it Right Menu Skip to right header navigation Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation Skip to primary sidebarYou are here: Home / National Parks / Best Things to Do in Yellowstone and Tips for Getting it RightThe colorful Grand Prismatic Springs at Yellowstone National Park. Photo credit: PixabayDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, TravelingMom may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. Heading to Yellowstone National Park in 2021? Whether you’re going for a day or a week, you’ll need some guidance for getting around. The park is huge – it’s bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island! Here’s how to see the best of Yellowstone and tips for making the most of your time in America’s first national park. The writer was hosted for this trip. See the park that sparked a new idea. Not only is Yellowstone National Park the first national park in the U.S., it’s also the first national park in the world! Located mainly in the northwest corner of Wyoming, parts of the park are in Montana and Idaho. Though most visitors are surprised, you can spend a week in Yellowstone and not see it all. With 3,500 square miles and 310 miles of roads, seeing it all can be a challenge. If you only have a few days, here are the best things to do in Yellowstone and tips for making the most of the time you have. And, don’t forget to check out TravelingMom’s list of Yellowstone area hotels and ourcomplete packing list for Yellowstone as you plan your trip! Photo credit: Cindy RichardsWhat to See in Yellowstone A vacation in Yellowstone National Park should be on everyone’s bucket list, families included. Old Faithful Geyser is top of the must-dos since it’s Yellowstone’s best known feature. Park rangers usually post a board near Old Faithful with the approximate time for the next geyser eruption. If you want a seat, allow extra time. TravelingMom Tip: Arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds. Old Faithful is just one of the things to do in Yellowstone. You’ll find more to explore, like… vast plains teeming with bison boiling rivers sulfurous mud pots steamy fumaroles majestic waterfalls deep canyons There are bears, wolves and bison, oh my! And there are roads to drive, trails to hike and fish to catch. But most of all, there are the geysers. TravelingMom Tip: If you enter via the East entrance, check out these fun things to do in Cody Wyoming with kids. Tips for Visiting Yellowstone National Park with Kids 1. Stop at a Yellowstone Visitor Center…First! Stop for a photo at the Yellowstone National park entrance sign. Photo credit: Cindy RichardsFind one of the eight NPS Visitor Centers in Yellowstone, each unique. Located at each park entrance, you’ll find maps, information and interpretive displays about that area of the park. Some are better than others. For example, if you come in through the South Entrance, stop at the Grant Visitor Center to learn about fire and the role it plays in the ecology of the park. The Norris Geyser Basin Museum, built in 1932, explains geothermal activity and life among the park’s hydrothermal features. Fishing Bridge…

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Yellowstone Travel Tips to Know Before Visiting

16 Yellowstone National Park Travel Tips: What to know Before Visiting Yellowstone Yellowstone has been one of my favorite National Parks to visit! From an abundance of wildlife to geothermal features, you’re in for a treat! After our Yellowstone road trip through Montana and Wyoming, there were definitely a few travel tips we picked up. In this guide, I am sharing Yellowstone travel tips to help you have the best trip! Below you will find 16 travel tips for visiting Yellowstone along with helpful links to my Yellowstone itinerary, top attractions, and more! Hike to Artist Paintpots Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Disclosure  The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone The best time to visit Yellowstone really depends on when you have time to take your vacation. With that being said, the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park, in general, is from Spring until Fall. While you can still visit in the Winter, many of the roads including the Grand Loop Road are closed due to very heavy snowfall. If you really want to visit during the winter, the best way to do it is with a guided tour. Usually, winter is the best time to see wolves.  The Summer is when most Yellowstone attractions are open, but also the busiest time. We visited during the 4th of July and while packed, we avoided tons of traffic by starting our days early.  September through October in Yellowstone will see fewer crowds. You will have an opportunity to experience Yellowstone’s Elk rut (mating season). Elk in front of the Albright Visitors Center Yellowstone is Best Explored by Car When planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, having or renting a car is the best way to see the park. There are companies that offer tours in Yellowstone, however, by having your own car, you can explore the park at your own pace. If you are flying into Montana/Wyoming, you can find Rental Cars here!  The park has 6 gas stations/service stations located at Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful (Lower and Upper), Fishing Bridge, Canyon, Grant Village, Lake Village, and Tower. With that being said, you should fill up your gas tank whenever possible, make sure to have a spare tire and first aid kit.  Lodging Travel Tips For Yellowstone National Park Generally, I have always been a last-minute planner. If you’re like me, this is one of those Yellowstone travel tips you will really want to take into consideration. Because Yellowstone is such a popular park (especially now), lodging is known to be booked up inside the park a year in advance! Crazy right?  Even outside the park, many of the best lodges by the gate entrances will be booked up too, so if you haven’t booked your lodging yet, this is your sign! Yellowstone Lodges inside the Park Yellowstone has 9 lodges and 12 campgrounds.  Some of the most popular lodges are Old Faithful Inn, Canyon Lodge and Cabins, and Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cottages. All Yellowstone Lodging can be booked directly from Yellowstone’s Official Website. Keep in mind that many of the campgrounds and lodges close in the fall/winter. Generally, the month of October is when everything starts to close. The only campground that is open all year is Mammoth Campground. Alternatively, you can book Vrbo or hotel accommodations outside the gate of Yellowstone. This is what we did.  West Yellowstone Accommodations We chose to stay at the West Gate of Yellowstone which is the closest entrance to Grand Prismatic Springs and Old Faithful. This makes the West gate very popular to stay around.  Crosswinds Inn: The lodge features a pool, complimentary breakfast and is located .9 miles from the…

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21 Must-Have Tips to Planning a Trip to Yellowstone

21 Must-Have Tips to Planning a Trip to Yellowstone It finally happened. My husband and I escaped our children on our anniversary weekend to spend a little over 24 hours in Yellowstone National Park. This less than 3-day Yellowstone vacation itinerary filled with day trips was not ideal, but it is all the time we had. I was speaking at a conference in Montana, and my husband could only take off for a long weekend. We made the most of our time, and the free babysitting from my dad, to visit the park. It was a marathon, but one hundred percent worth it to see the first national park in the United States. So, let’s dive into planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park when when you are very short on time. Where is Yellowstone National Park? The bulk of Yellowstone National Park is in northwest Wyoming. A sliver pops into Idaho to the west and Montana to the north. Best time to visit Yellowstone National Park Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Yellowstone National Park. The weather is wild and the crowds aren’t quite as bad. Winter is the quietest time in the park. We dream about seeing Yellowstone in winter with a blanket of snow around the geothermal pools. It’s a bit trickier to navigate the park and even get to the park entrance if snowfall is heavy the year you visit though. Plan carefully and fly into the closest airport possible. Can you do one day in Yellowstone National Park? The short answer is yes, you can do Yellowstone National Park in one day. It will be a mad dash to see the highlights, but if that is all the time you have to explore, it is still worth popping into this Wyoming national park. Yellowstone Trip Planner Preplanning is essential when you want to do Yellowstone quickly. We knew what sights we had to see, and what part of the park loop we needed a full day to explore. Other parts, we could check out on our way in and out of the park. Again, this itinerary was not ideal, but we saw a huge chunk of the park with only one full day to see it. If you can fly into Montana (especially if you are seeing Glacier National Park) and out of Wyoming (perfect if you are seeing the Grand Tetons) you will save a lot of time. Or simply fly into Jackson Hole, the closest airport to the park. Best Airport to fly into when visiting Yellowstone The closest airport to Yellowstone is Jackson Airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (JAC) in Grand Teton National Park. The cheapest would be Salt Lake City International Airport, about a five and a half hour drive away. Denver is also drivable, but will be quite a drive to Yellowstone. Other Montana airports, as well as Wyoming, are also close enough to make it an easy drive to the park, including: Bozeman, Montana (BZN)Billings, Montana (BIL)Cody, Wyoming (COD) Yellowstone National Park Lodging Book your hotel(s) way in advance. If you want your choice of lodging, do not wait a month before to book a room. Certainly, don’t drive into the park thinking you will find a room at one of the lodges. You will be trekking out of the park for sure unless it is the dead of winter. Then you will just be lucky to find one of the lodges open (many close during the off season). The best place to stay in Yellowstone is one of the park lodges. We love the Old Faithful Lodge, Mammoth Lodge and Lake Hotel. When you stay outside of the park, you just spend too much time driving in and out of this massive expanse of land. Looking for a Yellowstone hotel? Check out the following! Lake Yellowstone Hotel And Cottages: luxury inside the parkMammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins: family rooms…

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Vacation to Yellowstone National Park – 8 Tips

Vacation to Yellowstone National Park1 – How to get to Yellowstone National Park I’m going to split things into two here. Either you are going directly from where you live to visit the park and its surroundings by airplane. Or you are doing a big road trip, perhaps travelling across Northern or Western America, by car/motorhome/campervan. If you are preparing for your trip to the United States, I would advise you to take a look at this great car rental comparator. I’ve already used it several times! Are you looking for a van or a motorhome? It’s this way! As a general rule, the cheapest airport to explore Yellowstone Park is Salt Lake City. From Europe, you can find cheap flights to Salt Lake City for example for less than 400/500€ by being flexible. Feel free to compare prices on this flight comparator that I have been using for 10 years now.There are certainly other airports closer to the park, but they are not as well served and therefore much more expensive (Bozeman, Idaho Falls, etc.). From Salt Lake, you are only about 4/5 hours, travelling non-stop, to the first park entrance. Do you prefer to rent a van or camper van for your road trip? I particularly recommend the Motorohome Republic website which is in my opinion the best site to compare and find the best prices on vans and camper vans. The site compares at hundreds of brands! If you are already in the United States on a road trip passing through the area, there are several possibilities. Yellowstone Park has 5 entrances: North Entrance, Northeast Entrance, South Entrance, West Entrance and East Entrance. If you are on a road trip in the Western United States area, especially travelling through the states south of the Park (Nevada, Utah and Colorado), the easiest way to get to Yellowstone is probably through the South Gate (through Grand Teton National Park). If you would like to visit Grand Teton another time, and you are travelling around North/South Dakota you will enter the park via the West or East gate. If you are on a road trip in Northwestern USA or Canada, the north or northeast gates will be the easiest to access. 2 – Best time to visit Yellowstone National Park I would say that there are two main points to consider when making your travel plans: the climate and the tourists. The weather and climate in Yellowstone are the first things I think of. Why? Mainly so you don’t freeze to death in your tent, right?! Seriously, the park is “theoretically” open all year round, however, the only road open year-round, even during winter, is the road to the far north of the park between Gardiner and Cooke. So basically, don’t come to Yellowstone during the winter season unless you like walking and camping at -20° and travelling by snowmobile! Be aware of the season when visiting Yellowstone Park…. The main roads begin to open in mid-April, but you’ll have to wait until mid-May to see all the roads in the park open. Most of the park’s roads close in late October with the arrival of snow. As a result, the best time to come is June, July and August, which is also the hottest period. The problem is that these are also the most touristic months. Tourists are another serious point to consider. Frankly,…

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10 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone National Park

10 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone National ParkBuild your own adventure at Yellowstone National Park with these useful tips!Yellowstone National Park spans an area of more than 2 million acres comprising the world’s largest concentration of geysers. There are sloping, lush green mountains, and an abundant species of wildlife nestled in this charming Wyoming staple mark. However, with so much to explore it can be overwhelming to try and do it all in one short trip. Check out this guide for 10 useful tips for visiting Yellowstone National Park and making the most out of your trek through beauty.Top Tips for YellowstoneTable of Contents [Show]Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use my affiliate link.1: Give yourself time to stop and enjoy the adventure!Rate attraction:51View MapYellowstone is a massive expanse of golden natural beauty. Embrace it! Give yourself enough time to stop at that lookout you didn’t plan for but passed on your drive. Stay an extra night in the park because you want to see the sunrise over the cliffs again. This is going to be a truly ethereal experience, why not give yourself the time to enjoy it properly?Address: Yellowstone National Park, WYWebsite: www.nps.gov2: Consider a Bus/Coach TourRate attraction:21View MapIf you really want to see it all, let the experts take you! Not only do you avoid the hassle of parking, but you also get insider tips on the best spots to visit in Yellowstone. These itineraries have been cultivated over years of experience, meaning they will only be taking you to those kinds of places that make your jaw drop. Some of them even offer rides from the airport. You can forego the need for a rental car if you work a coach tour into your plans. Pro tip: Be careful with the one-night stop coach tours! Frequent one-night stops can really wear you out. Most travelers like to shoot for at least two nights in the same hotel to feel settled and at rest while away. Address: Yellowstone National Park, WY3: Sleep under the stars in YellowstoneRate attraction:51View MapThis doesn’t mean you have to forego a proper bed! Instead, opt for a cabin. Cabins are the best way to experience the park you are staying in. Not only do you get to see some of the raw, dark beauty of Yellowstone, but the chances of seeing some early morning wildlife are much higher. You get to sleep away from all the hustle and bustle of city life and get the best sleep of your life thanks to the calming sounds of nature. Some bus tour companies even include a night Stay in Yellowstone Cabin Tour Package, and some customized online travel agency will reserve for you as per request. Pro tip: Book early as possible via whichever channel as the cabins are extremely rare inside the park that can fill a year in advance.Address: Yellowstone National Park, WY4: Be ready for the early morningRate attraction:31View MapEarly mornings may not be high on your list of vacation essentials, but at Yellowstone National Park, it’s well worth the trouble. Especially if you plan on seeing Old Faithful. The crowds can take away from some of the magnificence of natural beauty, so if you want to see the best that the park has to offer be sure to start your day early. Pro tip: Not a morning person? You can always try to go after the crowds have left, rather than before! There will be more people than the early morning hours, but less than the rush at midday. Address: Yellowstone National Park, WY5: Stop at the visitor’s centerRate attraction:21View MapA lot of travelers forego the visitor’s center because they like to make their own path. And that’s great! Perfect, actually for the easy-going trailblazing done here, but you still might want to make a stop for some regional info. Here they can tell you where you might get to see some Bison or the best places in the park for a sunset. Pro tip: Don’t forget to check for the ranger programs. Informational and fun!Address: Yellowstone National Park, WYWebsite: www.nps.gov6: Come preparedRate…

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Tips and Advice for Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Tips and Advice for Visiting Yellowstone National Park Before visiting Yellowstone National Park for the first time last year, I had no idea of how big the park is and how much there is to explore whilst you are there. From waterfalls, hot springs, geysers, wildlife, lakes and incredible scenery – there really is so much to see and do and I had great fun planning our visit. I decided to write this guide to visiting Yellowstone National Park with some tips and advice that I discovered when we were there to help anyone planning a trip in the future as a little knowledge goes a long way. Where is Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park which covers nearly 3500 square miles is mostly located in Wyoming but also covers small areas of Montana and Idaho. How to Get to Yellowstone National Park We drove to Yellowstone National Park as part of a road trip covering thirteen states but it is also possible to fly to nearby airports and drive from those. The closest international airport to Yellowstone National Park is Salt Lake City (which is still a five hour drive to the park) and the closest regional airports are Bozeman, Billings, Cody and Jackson Hole. There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park and the closest towns and cities to each one are: North Entrance (Gardiner) Northeast Entrance (Cooke City) West Entrance (West Yellowstone) East Entrance (Cody) South Entrance (Jackson) The North Entrance is the only one that is open year round. When to go to Yellowstone National Park The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is off-season in either May or September to avoid the heavy summer crowds in June, July and August. During peak season there will be constant traffic jams, crowded boardwalks, parking lots will be full and the crowds of people at the main sights will not be fun or enjoyable. Even when we visited at the end of September, it was busy at the Grand Prismatic Spring and at Mammoth Hot Springs so I dread to think how busy they are in the height of summer. Yellowstone National Park is also open in winter and looks magical in the snow however not all services or hotels inside the park are open and most roads are closed. Where to Stay at Yellowstone National Park Even though there are hotels and campsites available inside Yellowstone National Park, they can cost an absolutely ridiculous amount of money and I personally would not recommend them. There are however hotels just outside the park in the nearby towns that have much better facilities and are much more affordable. We personally stayed in a hotel in West Yellowstone which was a fantastic base for our stay as it was right outside the West Entrance. Not only was our accommodation a lot cheaper than if we had stayed inside the park but we also saved money by eating at the restaurants in the town (the menu options were a hundred times better than anything I saw inside the park especially if you have various dietary requirements) as well as having access to supermarkets and cheaper fuel. Yes we got caught in a Bison Jam each day between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction but it was all part of the fun of going to Yellowstone. No matter where you stay, make sure to book in advance (sometimes up to a year before) especially during peak season as accommodations either inside or outside the park are limited and definitely do not turn up without having anything booked. How Long to Spend at Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park is huge – much bigger than you think it will be and it takes time to get around. The absolute minimum you need is three…

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Ultimate Yellowstone Itinerary: Best Way to Spend 1 to 5 …

Ultimate Yellowstone Itinerary: Best Way to Spend 1 to 5 Days in YellowstoneIf you are planning your trip to Yellowstone National Park, this is a great place to start. There are many different ways to plan the “perfect Yellowstone itinerary,” depending on your interests and how much time you have.Yellowstone is the largest national park outside of Alaska. With over two million acres of land, five park entrances, numerous geyser basins to visit, and scenic drives through valleys filled with elk and bison, there is A LOT to do here.Ideally, you need at least three or four days to visit Yellowstone National Park. However, if you are short on time, you can get to the main highlights, even if you just have a day or two. Record Floods in YellowstoneOn June 12, 2022, Yellowstone and northern Montana had record floods. These floods washed aways portions of the roads between Gardiner, Montana and the north entrance of Yellowstone and roads near the northeast entrance of the park. These floods altered the landscapes of Yellowstone and some roads are expected to be closed for an extended period of time.At the time that I am updating this, the north and south loops of Yellowstone are open. The road between Gardiner and Mammoth is closed, as is the Northeast Entrance of the park. As of July 2, the park cancelled the Alternating License Plate System. Visitors can enter the park on any day they like, regardless of license plate number. Currently, there is no timed entry reservation system in effect, but I recommend getting updates on the official website, just in case this changes.Stay Updated about Park ConditionsConditions are constantly changing in the park and will continue to do so throughout the summer. I plan to keep this article updated but the best place to go for current conditions is the official National Park Service website.About this Yellowstone ItineraryThis Yellowstone itinerary works best during the months of June through October. From early November through late-May, many of the park roads will be closed due to snowfall. It’s still possible to visit the park in the winter, but you will get around by snowmobile or snow coach, which of course will be a much different experience than the summer months.With that being said, you should know that crowds are huge during the summer months (especially July and August). In 2021, Yellowstone was the 3rd most visited park in the USA, receiving 4.9 million visitors. Expect major difficulties finding a parking space midday and be prepared to share walking trails with many other visitors.If you plan to visit Yellowstone National Park for at least three days, we recommend staying in two different locations. Yes, it can be a hassle packing and unpacking, but Yellowstone is so large that switching accommodations can minimize travel time in the park. I give recommendations on where to stay in each itinerary. However, if you want to stay in one place for your entire visit, Canyon Village is the most centrally located village in Yellowstone. A Quick Geography LessonYellowstone is the second largest US national park outside of Alaska. With over 2 million acres of land and 5 park entrances, this place is massive.Yellowstone National Park is primarily located in Wyoming, although it does spill over, just a little bit, into Idaho and Montana.If you look at the map of Yellowstone below, you will see that the network of roads inside the park forms a figure of eight. The main loop is called Grand Loop Road. Bisecting this loop, and making the park roads resemble a figure of eight, is Norris Canyon Road. The majority of sights you will visit are located on Grand Loop Road.I modified this nps.gov map to highlight Grand Loop Road, the park entrances, and the main sights in Yellowstone. The yellow lines are the road closures (at the…

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