Do you love to spend time in nature and adore our national parks? Why not plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Here are a few tips to help the process. ”
Over 3 million people visit Yellowstone National Park every single year! Two-million of these visitors visit during the summer months alone!
Yellowstone is a popular destination and for many people, vacationing in Yellowstone is at the top of their bucket list and for good reason. My husband and I stopped at Yellowstone on a cross country road trip from Ohio to Oregon a couple years ago.
Even though we didn’t have a lot of time in the park, and we were there in high season with the highest crowds, we managed to see a lot of the park and have a few tips to share from our experience.
Yellowstone is hands down one of my favorite parks. It’s so diverse! From the open fields, to forests, to geothermal fields, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the views can change. While we were only able to spend 24-hours in Yellowstone, we covered a lot of ground and I didn’t feel cheated when we left to continue our road trip.
Yellowstone National Park Facts and History
Yellowstone National Park was established on March 1, 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant as the first national park in the country. The area had already become famous throughout the world for its stunning scenery and amazing natural wonders such as Old Faithful, the always popular geyser that is one of the things that Yellowstone National park is most famous for.
Did you know though that Old Faithful is not even the biggest geyser in the park? It’s regularity though is quite unique though and people know that they will get to see it erupt during their visit so that’s where they go.
Now that you know a couple of the details about the park, are you ready to plan your Yellowstone trip?
How to Plan an Amazing Yellowstone Trip
Know the Operating Schedule
July and August are the most popular times to visit the park because unlike the rest of the year, all attractions and all areas are open during those months. It’s also important to note that during these months, the gates are open 24 hours a day so unless you visit at peak times, you should be able to enter the park with minimal wait. Do some homework and read the website for help planning.
Make a plan
Yeah, I know that making a plan seems redundant when visiting a national park. If you’re like me, you want to be spontaneous and enjoy a leisurely visit. But the thing is, Yellowstone National Park covers a massive area and it’s unlikely that you will be able to see the entire thing in one trip.
You need to focus on a couple of areas that you really want to visit and plan accordingly. You can always add on to your itinerary after you’ve seen the attractions that appeal to you most.
You also have to know which of the natural attractions you want to see so that you go to the right entrance, choose the right place to stay in Yellowstone, etc.
You don’t want to make the wrong choice with these things as you will waste a tremendous amount of time trying to get to your desired location. I’m sure you are taking this trip to see the park, not the inside of your car.
Reserve Your Lodging
We’ve mentioned it before but Yellowstone National park is massive and covers a lot of ground. If you only want to see the geothermal area, the Old Faithful Inn would be a great fit, but driving to the Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins would be out of your way.
Options will also vary depending on the season that you visit as not all areas of the park are accessible during the winter.
As I mentioned earlier, the park does get bust so to have the most options and to obtain the best price, plan to book in advance. You really need to book your lodging months, if not a year, in advance. This is especially true if you plan on camping at the park.
Yellowstone has 12 campgrounds and only five take reservations. If you’re traveling with an RV, reservations are imperative, if you not, you may be able to get a spot upon arrival but keep in mind that those spots often fill up early in the day- even first thing in the morning.
My husband and I got lucky and found a place to spend the night, last minute, but that was only due to a cancellation. When we tried to extend our visit, we found everything was either booked or more than we wanted to spend. So lay out your plan and reserve early to avoid disappointment.
My husband and I stayed in the Roughrider Cabins and LOVED our experience.
You may also plan to stay outside the park, which leads me to my next point.
Know Where Your Lodging Is
As I’ve mentioned, plan what you must see in the park and plan your hotel room accordingly. Many people will book rooms outside of the park to save a bit of money but if you go that route, know that many “Yellowstone” hotels can be a bit of a drive to the park so be sure to plan ahead for travel time each day.
Also, if you book a campsite, make sure that you know which campground it is. There are quite a few in and around the park and it’s not like you can just show up anywhere in the park to find your spot.
Plan to Wake Up Early
Once again I am going to mention that each summer, Yellowstone National Park gets over 2 million visitors. That means that there will be crowds. Yes, you are going into the wilderness, but you wouldn’t guess it in some areas of the park because of how crowded it gets.
Plan to wake up early so you can cover a lot of ground before the crowds arrive and keep in mind that the most popular attractions in the park fill up quickly (Old Faithful, I’m looking at you).
You can learn more in this post——–> Visiting Yellowstone National Park in One Day
Hire a Guide or Take a Tour
There are millions of wild animals in Yellowstone National Park, but just because you are there doesn’t mean you will see one. If you want the best possible wildlife experience as part of your trip, consider hiring a Yellowstone Tour Guide.
Guides offer many wildlife tours through the park and they know where the more likely locations will be for you to get lucky enough to see one of your desired majestic creatures.
Plan to Take Your Time
It doesn’t matter if you have a day or a week- any amount of time at Yellowstone is awesome. I’ve been told four days is the sweet spot but that really depends on your interests and what you want to experience in the park.
You could spend weeks and won’t be enough time to see everything but even with a day or two you can hit the most popular attractions. More time would allow you to leisurely explore though in our one day trip we managed to take a couple short walks and enjoy a picnic along the lake.
Have you been to Yellowstone National Park before? What did you find to be beneficial when planning your trip?
© 2019, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.