On the Yellowstone National Park website, you will read three words: Marvel. Explore. Discover. That’s it in a nutshell. Where else on earth can you experience so many different landforms (mountains, lakes, rivers, valleys, forests), animals (bison, elk, bear, fish, birds), and natural wonders (hot springs, geysers,waterfalls)? It’s all there! And it is amazing! Our short three day visit didn’t do it justice. When (not, if) we visit again we would be more aware of some things. Maybe you could learn from our experience.
- We would definitely visit again in the off-season, spring or fall. The temperatures are more to our liking and the crowds are not as crazy. Since we don’t have school age kids anymore, we have the luxury of traveling during the school year. We are more than happy to let families have the run of the park during the summer months!
- We would spend at least a week at the park. We met some folks who had spent several days camped at Mammoth Hot Springs, then they moseyed on over to Canyon Campground, pulled up stakes and went over to Grant Village, and ended their stay at Norris Campground before heading south to Grand Teton. Camping in different areas of the park would cut down on all the driving.
- We would try to be more patient with people. It still boggles our minds why some people insist on tailgating, passing in a no-passing zone, or driving at the speed of light. I want to scream, “People, you’re in a national park! Slow down and enjoy this wonderful gift of creation! Why did you come here if you didn’t want to see the sites???”
- We would not let so many people scare us out of hiking. We love to hike, but we kept hearing stories and warnings about bears and how if we hiked, we would probably get EATEN. It was September and the bears were storing up for winter, and if they saw us, we would probably GET EATEN. And there was a bear attack earlier and if we met up with one WE WOULD PROBABLY GET EATEN. So we stayed in the car.
- Speaking of staying in the car, before visiting Yellowstone, you need to look at the park map and realize there is ONE road that loops through the park. Say you are camped at Mammoth Hot Springs and you want to go see Old Faithful. It’s a 50 mile trip,…..on a road that sometimes has bison or elk walking down the center line, so you cannot drive 55 mph. It is a massive area and you cannot get anywhere in a hurry.
- We are generally early birds. Meaning, if something opens at 9 am, we are there at 8:30 waiting for the doors to open. Being an early bird is advantageous when planning your stops at the big attractions, like Old Faithful. The later it gets in the day, the more the parking lots are filled. And there is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a parking space when Old Faithful is about to spout off!
Hopefully I have encouraged (not discouraged) you from visiting one of America’s most beloved national parks. Put it on your bucket list! It is worth it!!