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In 2016, America’s National Parks will be celebrating their 100th birthday!  With this in mind, I wrote a post a month from March through August, highlighting five of the national parks we have been to.  As Yellowstone National Park is our country’s first national park, my first post is on YNP! IMG_4679

If you haven’t been there, you simply must add it to your travel list!  The bulk of the park is in the northwest corner of Wyoming, although some areas overflow into neighboring Idaho and Montana.  YNP is wild, pristine, and diverse. It is also the site of a lot of controversy including issues surrounding wolves, bears, and bison.

If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, check out our five tips to ensure you’ll have a great time!

Don’t approach wildlife!

This one always amazes me. I can’t tell you how many times we read headlines of people getting gored by bison because they are trying to take pictures with them. Bison, bears, elk, moose… they are all protective, very fast, and dangerous. If you feel like getting mauled, trampled on, or killed, by all means please approach one of these animals. Otherwise, please admire from a safe distance!

Proceed with caution!

The roads throughout YNP tend to be narrow and winding, with little to no shoulder space. You never know what is around the bend… It could be an animal or a swarm of people who are blocking traffic trying to see an animal. And, whenever you see a crowd of cars, people, and park rangers, you know there is a bear somewhere nearby. Just remember to drive slowly and be aware of your surroundings.

Plan in advance!

With over three million visitors a year, Yellowstone is popular. Rooms and camping in the park can be very expensive and may book out a year in advance. Check for lodging in the surrounding area – read more about Jackson Hole, here. Gas and food also tend to be cheaper outside of the park, but timing is really important. Our last visit was in mid-May, which was great because it was the shoulder season which means less crowds and cheaper prices. However, many roads, gas stations, and restaurants in the out-lying areas of the park were not open for the season yet which required planning. Pack a cooler with some snacks and drinks – you’ll need it, and it will help you cut costs. Be sure to check YNP’s website for the most up-to-date information.

Dress in layers!

This tip is crucial if you’re going during the cooler months. The weather in Yellowstone can have major swings in a day. I ended up in three layers on our trip and I was still chilly. Also, wear appropriate shoes for walking and/or hiking on walkways, hilly paths, and throughout muddy and rocky areas.

Technology matters!

Bring your camera and binoculars. We forgot our binoculars and have made sure to add them to our future packing list. If someone near you has a spotting scope, they might be nice enough to let you have a peek if you ask really nicely though! Cell service is spotty throughout the park too, so don’t rely on it.

Again, I have to reiterate, please do not approach the animals! We arrived at Old Faithful just as a young girl was being airlifted to the hospital after her parents tried getting a photo of her and a buffalo. When incidents like these happen, both people and the animals face dire consequences.DSCN1556

These tips will help you have a memorable time in Yellowstone. Although spotting wildlife is never promised, the geysers, waterfalls, and valleys are beautiful and exciting too. Be sure to check out the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone… it is one of the most breathtaking places in the U.S.DSC04070Have a great time!

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  1. […] 3. Trampling vegetation.  As people explore the area they are visiting and try to find the best spot to catch the eclipse, they will wander off established trails and trample vegetation.  I know this sounds minimal, but trust me this is a huge negative impact that mass tourism has on the environment across the world.  Even as an example aside from the eclipse, think of the damage that was done this past summer when tourists left the walkway and walked across Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone. […]

  2. I’m so glad I found this post! I am headed back to Canada for a visit in May and thought about maybe taking a trip down to Yellowstone ! I have wanted to visit this park for a long time especially to photograph the wildlife! I cannot believe people put themselves and kids at risk trying to take photos though. I saw this same buffalo senario here in New Zealand except a very young child with a seal. I thought I was going to witness some not good and luckily they moved just in time!! Great post!

    1. People can be so dumb when it comes to getting pictures. It can be really unfortunate. I hope you make it to Yellowstone – it is such an amazing place!

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