Before you head off to Yellowstone National Park, one of America’s best and most beautiful parks, make sure you have a rough itinerary of all the sights and places available to you. There are so many things I wish I would have prepared for prior to my first Yellowstone excursion…..and in true spirit of Cassy, I present to you all the hacks, tips and tricks I wish I had, so your experience can top my own. (If that is possible…)
I highly recommend spending at least 2 days in Yellowstone in order to see the full park. There is a full loop route that wraps around the entire National Park, but in order to explore the trails, hike anything at all, or spend your time outside the car, you will need to allocate more than a single day.
Most of the absolutely-must-see features of Yellowstone are located just off of the main loop inside the park. No matter what entrance you happen to start at, you will pass all of them as you circle the park. Make sure you don’t miss:
Mammoth Springs (A)
Some of the prettiest natural features of Yellowstone are near the northern entrance to the park. The gorgeous springs flow over limestone masses offering fantastic views over the cascading area.
Boiling River Springs (A)
Take a dip in the “Boiling River” and enjoy the hot spring waters even on a frigid day.
Tower Falls (B)
Hayden Valley (C)
Yellowstone Lake (E)
Yellowstone lake displays beautiful sunsets and prominent hydrothermic features.
Old Faithful/Geyser Explosions (G)
While you certainly will have the opportunity to see Old Faithful blow (every 90 or so minutes), I had the opportunikty to see the Beehive Geyser go off. It only happens once every 15 hours. If you call the Old Faithful visitor center, they will be able to tell you a rough estimate about what time this geyser will explode- and it’s far more
The Grand Prismatic Spring (H)
My favorite! The Grand Prismatic Spring was the unicorn of Yellowstone. It was by far the most colorful feature of the park, bar none.
D: Tall cliffs flank Yellowstone Lakes’ east edge, with hiking trails weaving throughout the shore and the Hayden Valley to the north
F: A quieter lakeside camping grounds along a smaller (but still beautiful) lake (Lake Lewis).
I: Norris Basin/Geyser and nearby hiking trails are full of awesome views as wells as the bluest hydro-thermal pits
Camping (or Lodging)
Make reservations for camping/lodging especially if visiting in July, when the park sees up to 30,000 visitors every day
While you are in grizzly bear territory, I felt that camping out overnight made my Yellowstone experience that much more fun and authentic. Yes, it was freezing. (I slept fully clothed with 3 blankets on me.) Yes, there are dangerous animals about. But it was awesome to wake up early feeling excited, refreshed, and eager to explore the remainder of the park. There are some areas that do not permit you to camp in a tent. Depending on your starting location within Yellowstone, determine the nearest camping locations and make a reservation if within the “peak season”. 90% of all Yellowstone tourists come between May-Sept, but it is especially busy during July when the park sees up to 30,000 visitors every. day.
Make sure you fill your vehicle’s gas tank before you enter the park, and pack the remainder in order to avoid the high prices at the “full service” areas within Yellowstone:
- Lunch/dinner supplies
- Coffee! <3
- Tent & sleeping bags
- Lots of extra blankets- be weather prepared
- Swimsuit and Towel (For the Boiling river hot spring area)
- Hiking supplies
- Bear repellent
Best Hikes within Yellowstone
If you aren’t up to just drive around the park, there are are tons of amazing hikes within the park:
Check out All Trails for a full list of all options.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Yellowstone Lake overlook
- Heart Lake and Snake River
- Black Sand Basin Trail
- Natural Bridge Trail
Make the most out of your trip out to this national park. I hope you enjoy your time. What was your favorite part of the park?