With breathtaking peaks and pristine lakes, Yellowstone National Park is a paradise for every travel enthusiast. Colorful pools swirl around hot springs, verdant forests weave past the greeneries of meadows, and geysers launch streams of steaming water toward the turquoise sky. This is one of the best places to marvel at the hidden power of volcanoes as the source of the beautiful hot springs. There is no doubt about the park’s extraordinary beauty, which has remained unspoiled since the park’s inception. And, most notably, this is the world’s first national park. So, there is every reason for you to be excited about planning your next visit to Yellowstone. Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Get ready for being enthralled by the mountains, geysers, canyons, and waterfalls. Also, don’t forget that you will be sharing your trails with the native residents: buffalo, elks, sometimes grizzlies, and even wolves.
A few words about the wolves
Every year Yellowstone attracts more than 4 million visitors, but chances are – unless you’re being guided by experienced wildlife guides, you won’t enjoy the wonders of this park to the full extent. To get the most out of your visit, you really need a guided tour that will show you the park’s hidden treasures in a friendly and knowledgeable fashion.
For example, the park is home to the gray wolf – an animal you’d be hard pressed to find on your own, because they do their best to stay away from humans. The wolf population was decimated in the early 20th century, but they were reintroduced later in the 1990’s. Since then, Yellowstone Wolf Tracker has been the main guide service helping visitors see these fascinating animals in the wild. YWT is run by Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston, both of whom are biologists, and offers unique tours that will let you witness the wildlife in a way few other experiences can. You can go either on a short one day trek, or, in the off-season, embark on a multi-day journey for a complete immersive experience.
Best Places to Visit
The red-tinged canyon walls, powerful waterfalls and, of course, breathtaking geothermal features are all trademarks of the park. Don’t miss exploring the hiking trails and basins for some awe-inspiring views of the forests, waterfalls, and alpine lakes. The adventurous types love the trails of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. From fishing at the lake to horseback riding, there are plenty of park activities for every taste. Always plan ahead carefully to make sure you visit the sites that cater to your interests. The Yellowstone Lake is a great place for boating. Venture into the famous Hayden and Lamar valleys if you want to see the animals. And, of course, make time to visit the major geothermal features, especially the Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, if you haven’t done so already.
Best Month to Visit
From April to May and between September and November are the best times to visit the Yellowstone National Park – it’s less crowded during these months and the weather is pleasant. July and August are the most popular months and one can easily see why: the weather is great to sleep outside and it’s vacation time as well. However, you can expect a wide range of temperatures during the winter, spanning from subzero to 30° F. The place becomes a winter wonderland during this time, so it’s very much worth a visit.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay inside the Yellowstone, you can book a room in one of the modern or historic hotels like the Old Faithful Inn (which, by the way, may also be the largest log building in the world). There are also 12 campgrounds for those who want to be a little closer to nature with a wide range of amenities from primitive pit toilets to laundry facilities. You can also get RV camping with or without dumping stations. Alternatively, staying outside the park will give you a wonderful Old West experience and still keeps you near the popular attractions.
What to Eat
If possible, bring along a cooler with lunch and snack items. That way, you don’t have to worry about staying near the more developed areas for snack shops. There are also many sit-down restaurants near popular locations, such as Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Lake. If you want to have dinner at an upscale restaurant, you have to make a reservation far in advance. And, during the peak summer season, many restaurants do not accept reservations. Burgers and sandwiches are available in most of the in-park eateries.
Getting Around Yellowstone
Since public transport is not available, the best way to get around Yellowstone is by car. Cars are widely available for rent at Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD) in Cody, Wyoming, Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) in Jackson, Wyoming, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) in Bozeman, Montana, and Yellowstone Airport (WYS) in West Yellowstone, Montana. And, don’t worry about parking. Each of the eight regions in Yellowstone has a particular area to park, so you don’t need to spend your entire vacation behind the wheel.
Safety is obviously something to constantly have on your mind. Possible issues may range from trifling headaches to animal attacks. However, altitude sickness is more common. The general symptoms are fatigue, headache, nausea, and muscle pain. Drinking a lot of fluid, eating light meals, and staying away from alcohol and caffeine will help in such situations. While enjoying the scenic beauty of the various sites, remember that they can be dangerous. It’s always better to keep a safe distance. Similarly, don’t forget to maintain distance from wild animals. It is suggested that you maintain at least 100 yards distance between you and wolves or bears. Keeping a distance of 25 yards or more between you and other wild animals is usually fine for your safety.
All in all, Yellowstone National park is an exciting place to spend your vacation, get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, get closer to nature and come away with wonderful memories.