Whether you’re planning your first visit or you’ve been to Yellowstone countless times, there are a few tips that can make your trip go more smoothly.
One of the best things about Yellowstone is that it’s so big, there’s always something new to see. The key is to plan ahead and maximize your experience!
1. Get There Early
One of the best things you can do to maximize your Yellowstone experience is get there early. This will give you more time to see the geysers, hot springs and other features that are most popular.
You’ll also have the chance to avoid crowds and enjoy the scenery without the hustle and bustle. The best places to visit in Yellowstone, such as Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, will be less crowded during the morning than at night.
Another way to minimize the number of people in Yellowstone is to visit during the off-season, particularly in June. This is a great time to visit because there aren’t as many tourists and the weather tends to be drier.
2. Stay Inside the Park
When you stay inside the park, you are in close proximity to all of the major landmarks. Rather than driving to these areas, you can simply park your car and walk or hike to them.
This is a great way to maximize your Yellowstone experience. It’s much more enjoyable to see all of the geyser basins, hot springs, and hikes from a different perspective than to only see them through the window of your vehicle.
Also, by staying inside the park, you can avoid some of the summer crowds. You can visit the park from mid-April through early November and still avoid the thousands of visitors who come to see Old Faithful in the summer.
3. Pack a Picnic Lunch
Whether it’s a hot summer day or a cold winter morning, picnicking is the perfect way to enjoy nature without getting “hangry.”
In Yellowstone, there are many great spots to enjoy a picnic lunch. Some of these include the Lake Hotel Deli and Bear Paw Deli within the park, as well as the Firehole Bar-B-Que Co outside of the park.
Another popular picnic spot is Calcite Springs, just off the road between Tower Falls and Mammoth Hot Springs. Located on a small hill, it offers plenty of room to enjoy your meal and take in the views.
4. Take a Guide
Yellowstone is an incredible national park, but it can also be overwhelming. To maximize your experience, you need to get it right from the start.
The best way to do this is to take a guided tour. There are a lot of great tour services that you can choose from.
You can book a tour in the park or from outside of it, and they’ll help you get the most out of your time.
Whether you’re looking to see wildlife or explore the parks geysers, having a guide can make your trip so much more fun and educational. Plus, they’ll know where to find animals and how to get you the best views.
5. Don’t Bring Anything Out of the Park
Visiting Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique experiences on earth. It’s home to rocky flats dotted with plumes of steam from geysers, bubbling mud pots and geothermal pools that shimmer in shades of startling aquamarine and goldenrod.
While some of the parks most popular attractions get booked up as far in advance as a year, it’s possible to make reservations for meals, lodging and other activities on short notice.
Early fall is the best time to visit because you’ll be able to see the colorful fall colors and experience wildlife like elk in their mating season, called the rut. It’s also a great opportunity to spot bears since they’re still foraging and not yet in hibernation.
6. Don’t Be Afraid of Bears
The good news is that bears are usually more interested in scavenging than attacking people. However, it’s still important to be brave when encountering them.
There are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself for a bear encounter, including staying on maintained trails, avoiding thick brush, and being aware of where they’re likely to be.
If you do encounter a bear, speak softly and calmly, back away slowly, and use your bear spray, according to WildSafeBC.
Keep in mind that grizzly bears can be more aggressive than black bears. So it’s especially important to be cautious when hiking in these areas.
7. Be Prepared for Weather
Yellowstone National Park is a world-renowned destination with bubbling hot springs, magnificent geysers, steaming fumaroles and huge canyons. The park is also one of the most visited in the United States despite its remote location.
It is important to be prepared for the weather while visiting Yellowstone. Storms can be devastating and having the necessary supplies ahead of time can help keep you safe.
To ensure that you’re ready, it is best to make an emergency plan for your family. This can include a list of essential items, emergency contacts, and where you’ll go in case of an emergency.
You can also sign up for a backpacking tour to Yellowstone where appropriate gear, bear spray, food, and permits are provided by the guiding company. This is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and experience the park in a way that you’ll never forget!
8. Bring Binoculars
Binoculars are an essential piece of gear for a trip to Yellowstone. They allow you to see wild animals from a distance, and can help you identify specific details about them.
When shopping for binoculars, you will want to consider things like the magnification and objective lens size. These factors will determine the quality of your viewing experience, and they also play a role in the durability of your binoculars.
While a pair of high-quality binoculars may cost a bit more than cheaper ones, they will last you longer and make for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Look for a pair that has large objective lenses and special lens coatings to reduce glare and allow more light into your view field.
9. Don’t Forget Your Camera
Whether you’re on the trail, at the lake, or on a bus tour, you’ll need to bring your camera with you. It’s important to have a high-quality, sturdy lens, so you can capture the most beautiful scenery and wildlife you can find.
Yellowstone is a national park that’s visited by millions of people every year. But it can also feel like a crowd, especially in peak season, June through August.
This is why it’s so important to plan your trip well. You should have at least three to four days in Yellowstone so you can see all of the main attractions and enjoy some free time for unexpected wildlife encounters or erupting geysers.
10. Don’t Forget Your Bear Spray
Bear spray is a powerful, non-lethal deterrent to bears. It works by causing irritation to the bear’s mouth, nose, eyes, and throat, distracting them from attacking or charging.
You can purchase bear spray in gift shops, outdoor stores, service stations and bookstores throughout Yellowstone. They sell the EPA-approved product that has proven to be effective in keeping bears away from humans.
When a bear approaches, back away slowly and then spray a small cloud of bear spray from about 20 feet. A few 3-second blasts should be enough to keep a bear from getting close.
A bear charge can happen suddenly and unexpectedly, so it is important to be prepared. Take the time to practice deploying your spray and removing it from the canister when you are not in a danger zone. It will save you a lot of time and energy in the event of an emergency.