If this is your first visit to Yellowstone National Park or your 20th, here are some tips to make this time one to really enjoy and remember.
Our family has been to Yellowstone many, many times. Grandfather Salmond owned a motel in West Yellowstone for many years, so we visited him and Yellowstone quite often. Through all these visits we have learned some valuable information to make the park visit more enjoyable.
1. Plan enough time for your visit
Yellowstone is really big. It covers 2.2 million acres. That is the size of a state. There is so much to see in that large area, that you need to plan on several days to enjoy everything. There are great distances to travel within Yellowstone to experience everything. You definitely do not want to rush through this fabulous park.
2. Bring your patience with you
Yellowstone, during the summer months, is packed with hundreds of thousands of people. This might sound overwhelming, but remember the park is really big. There is room. Just plan on the roads being crowded, the traffic slower, and the lines longer. There may be wildlife on the road. Slow down and enjoy the time you have there.
3. Stay on the designated paths
There are designated boardwalks around the geyser basins so stay on these boardwalks. The earth’s crust in these areas is very brittle and people have been injured by falling through. The boardwalks and trails are there for your protection.
4. Take the hikes
Yellowstone is not to be seen just from your car window. There is so much to experience on the trails. Get out of the car and walk on the boardwalks or on the hiking trails for a greater sense of Yellowstone’s beauty and uniqueness.
5. Pack wisely
Before you enter Yellowstone, make sure that you fill your car with gas, have food and drinks packed, have a jacket and hat, and a map of the area. These few items will make a big difference in your enjoyment of the day.
6. Stop when you see a lot of cars parked in one area
One of the highlights of this great place, is the splendid wildlife. We love this part of Yellowstone. Yellowstone in not like a zoo where the wildlife is kept in one area. The wildlife roam wherever they want. You might see bison, elk, fox, wolves, bighorn sheep, black bear, and grizzlies.
A large group of cars stopped on the side of the road usually means that there is wildlife, usually a bear, close by. Be sure and stop.
7. Bring binoculars
Sometimes the wildlife is on a nearby hill or on the side of the mountain, so binoculars are a must. You do not want to get too close to the wildlife. Binoculars allow you to see that elk close up, but keeping you at a distance.
8. Talk to people
I always ask people where they have seen the wildlife that day. We have seen herds of bison, a grizzly, and the wolves by people telling us where they had seen them that day. The wildlife does not stay in one place, so to see them you often need to be proactive.
9. Remember that the wildlife is WILD
A word of caution here. The wildlife in Yellowstone have become used to being around people, but they are still a wild animal. They are still dangerous. These animals are not hand fed like in a zoo. They are living in the wild. Yellowstone just happens to be this wild that is their home. Stay a safe distance away from them.
10. Experience Old Faithful
You must visit Old Faithful. According to the National Park Service, this Geyser erupts about every 45 minutes and shoots 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water 106 to 185 feet into the air lasting from 1 1⁄2 to 5 minutes. To say it is mind-blowing does not do it justice.
11. Visit Old faithful Lodge
The Old Faithful Inn is a must see. It is a national historic landmark built in 1903-1904 from logs and stone. The inn is the largest log structure in the world. The lobby is over 2 stories tall with a vaulted roof-line, and is home to a massive stone fireplace.
12. Do not speed
Drive responsibly by observing the speed limit. The park rangers will give you a ticket. How fast you’re going is a real safety issue because you do not know what is in the road when rounding the next corner. I have seen bison sitting in the middle of the road. To hit that would not be good for you, your car, or the bison.
Additionally, do not park in the middle of the road to take a picture and use the pullouts to let others pass. You will like it when others show you similar courtesy.
We love Yellowstone. To hear the elk bugle in the evening, to see a black bear with her 2 small cubs, to experience the awe of Old Faithful, to have ice cream at the Mammoth Lodge, and to see the sunset over the mountains is something you will never forget. Pack your bags and join us in experiencing Yellowstone National Park.
See Ya Makin’ Memories