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!
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.
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.
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.Have a great time!