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If you haven’t been to Yellowstone National Park, now is a add it to your travel list!  America’s National Parks are wonderful places to travel to.  Not only do you get to explore some amazing natural spaces, but you will get the opportunity to view magnificent natural wonders, view wildlife, and just escape from the ins and outs of daily life for a bit. 

Getting There

The bulk of this 3,500 square mile park is in the Northwestern corner of Wyoming.  Some areas overflow into neighboring Idaho and Montana.  There are several “gateway” cities you can use to enter Yellowstone.  The most popular are Jackson Hole and Cody, Wyoming.  Both of these towns have flight options.  Even if you choose to fly to one of these nearby towns, you will want to rent a car as Yellowstone is the ultimate place to drive!  If you are looking for slightly bigger airport options, Salt Lake City, Utah is your best bet, but it will involve driving several hours to get to Yellowstone.

Park Information

Yellowstone is famous for being filled with countless natural wonders.  There are so many things to see here!  Geysers, waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, fantastic landscapes and abundant animals fill the area!

Yellowstone is not without it’s share of headlines and controversy.  Some of these issues surround the management of wildlife – especially wolves, grizzly bears, and bison. 

Other issues are all about tourists behaving badly.  Trust us, this is not a petting zoo and no one should approach wildlife here!  On top of that, this area requires visitors to interact with the environment in a certain way.  Doing so helps protect the geothermal features and the people who visit.

This is a wild environment which visitors must respect.  Stay on guided trails and do not mess with the various geothermal features!  Yellowstone is a great place to practice the Leave No Trace principles.  But there’s more to visiting Yellowstone.

Not to fear!  Armed with our easy tips and tricks, you can have a great visit to Yellowstone National Park (a.k.a. YNP). 

Do Not Approach Wildlife

The first tip seems like it should be a no-brainer.  However, every year, countless people ignore this general rule and pay the consequences.  Whatever you do during your time in the park, do not approach wildlife!  There is no selfie in the world that is worth getting gored by bison or mauled by a grizzly!  The park has specific guidelines in place for the appropriate distance you must maintain.  

Additionally, when predatory animals are put in a position where they attack humans, this often becomes a fatal situation.  Rangers are put in the position to have to dispatch these animals.  

There are so many exciting wildlife viewing opportunities in Yellowstone!  Visitors see everything from the majestic bald and golden eagles to foxes, bison, and more. It is understandable that seeing these animals in nature is exciting.  Especially the more highly sought after animals like bears and wolves.  But, remember, there are plenty of species to see.  YNP is actually home to the largest concentration of animals in the mainland US!

Some of the wildlife you can expect to see:

  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Goats
  • Otters
  • Bears
  • Foxes
  • Wolves
  • Mountain lions
  • Coyotes
  • Eagles
  • Osprey
  • Fish
  • Rabbits
  • Badgers
  • Chipmunks

Again, just do not approach wildlife – plain and simple!  We cannot say it enough.  It is so much better to admire then from a safe distance.  This ensures the safety not only of yourself, but also of the animals millions of visitors come to see each year. 

Drive 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 in the road.  There could easily be an animal or a crowd of people blocking traffic.  

It is also important to remember that many drivers in the area are distracted by their surroundings.  Slow, cautious driving is the best way to proceed throughout the park.

And, always remember, if you see a major crowd of people (and park rangers) off to the side of the road, there is likely a bear.  The excitement is so overwhelming  people do not care that they are standing in the middle of the road.

Plan In Advance

With millions of visitors a year, Yellowstone is popular!  Rooms and camping in the park can be very expensive and may book out far in advance.  There are lodging options available in nearby towns, but this still can be a bit of a commute. 

Gas and food also tend to be cheaper outside of the park, but timing is really important.  The shoulder season is a great time to consider due to 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 Appropriate Apparel Layers

This tip is crucial as you want to make sure you are prepared and comfortable during your time in the Park.  The summer weather in Yellowstone can have major swings in a day.  Elevation is not the only consideration here.  You will also encounter wide open fields with the potential for brutally hot sunshine, rain showers, and other weather shifts.  We recommend ensuring you have a minimum of the following items with you:

  • Walking/hiking shoes
  • Sweater
  • Rain Jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen

Even if you are not an active traveler, there are still plenty of things here that will get you out of the car and moving!  The best geothermal features require a bit of walking to access.  Same with waterfalls like the notable Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.  Make sure your apparel is appropriate.

Technology Matters

Do not come to this Park without your camera and binoculars.  If you have a spotting scope, this is another item that we recommend bringing.  The more “zoom” the better!  There are so many beautiful things to take in at YNP.

Cell service is spotty throughout the park too, so don’t rely on it 100% of the time.  But, be sure to check the website before hand for information, updates, navigation, and even webcam views.

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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.  Smart choices can make YNP a wonderful place for everyone who visits!

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29 Comments

  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!

  3. I would love to visit Yellowstone one day! I am slowly making it to as many National Parks whenever I can 🙂 Thanks for all of these tips as well!

  4. Great tips! We got married in Grand Teton in 2017 and spent several days in Yellowstone beforehand. The park is beautiful and there is so much to see and do as you drive around. It’s so important to prepare for any sort of weather as we received rain pretty much every day we were in both parks, in late July!

    1. What a great place to get married! Congrats!! Driving around YNP must have been a great way to relax leading up to the big day!

  5. I wNt to visit Yellowstone. I had previously researched flights from Canada and thought the only was in to Sault Lake city. It is good to know that there are closer airports. I will have to see if i can fly to Cody or Jackson Hole from Toronto

    1. You won’t be able to fly to Jackson or Cody directly from Toronto. But, you can likely get a connecting flight through Salt Lake or Denver.

  6. Very valuable information and tips on Yellowstone National Park. I still have to visit National Parks in US as they are full of natural beauty. Not to approach wildlife is very safe tip and I too recommend this.

  7. Looking forward to seeing the geyers for myself some day! Good wildlife advice, too! It is ridiculous that rangers have to put down animals because humans were being stupid or not paying attention to surroundings.

  8. Gosh, this looks amazing – the waters are overwhelming. However, I would love to go there to see the wildlife. It’s incredible how much there’s crawling around. This seems to be the nicest and most diverse national park in the US – is that right?

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