In 2017 during our 10,000-mile road trip through North America, we enjoyed an expedition through Yellowstone National Park. Though we did some things right, we certainly made some mistakes along the way - mistakes you can learn from so you can do it better and make the most of your visit to Yellowstone!
1. Camp Inside the Park
This was the biggest mistake we made. We stayed in Cody, Wyoming. Cody is an adorable town and definitely worth a stop. But the hour drive each direction from Cody to the Yellowstone gate and back definitely cut into our time to actually see the park. Yellowstone has several campgrounds available, or if you are adventurous and can visit the park in a small campervan, you could easily boondock in any one of the hundreds of different scenic places. In fact, this is our plan for the next time we go.
2. Bring Your Own Food
Restaurants within the park are limited, and our experiences with them left much to be desired. Yellowstone is known for its natural beauty, not its culinary experiences. The food available for purchase is over-priced and disappointing. Take a little extra time in the mornings to prepare salads or sandwiches that you can eat along the way. Find a little side drive where you can park and enjoy a gorgeous view with your picnic meal.
3. Take Every Little Scenic Drive or Hike You Find
From the main roads, you'll see side drives, some of which double back and some of which loop around back to the main road. Take. Them. ALL.
Many of these side "streets" cannot be accessed by RVs. Drive your vehicle or small campervan so you don't miss out.
4. Stop in Random Places and Explore
Yellowstone is full of places where you can pull over. Some are in the most random places, and you may wonder what on earth you could possibly see. But stop anyway, get out, stretch your legs, walk around, explore, and see what hidden treasures you can uncover.
5. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Another mistake we made was not allowing ourselves enough time to see all of the park. We spent about 1.5 days actually inside the park, but we could have easily spent a week. The next time we go, we intend to do just that. In order to really appreciate everything the park has to offer, and in order to see the incredible variety of animals, you really need to spend several days exploring.
6. Pay attention to all the wildlife
When in Yellowstone, it's easy to get caught up in buffalo fever. And although it is amazing to see buffalo and bears and wolves, Yellowstone is home to hundreds of other species of animals: 67 species of mammals total and 285 species of birds.
To see some of our favorite animals of Yellowstone, read Wildlife of Yellowstone.
7. Watch Old Faithful erupt
Yes, there will be a gajillion people there. Yes, you should get there early to get a spot where you can see. Yes, you will have to wait patiently for the geyser to start his show on his timeline. He has become less faithful over the years, sometimes taking 90 minutes between eruptions. Yes, it's one of the most touristy things you can do at Yellowstone. Do it anyway. It's a truly unique experience and one you should not miss.
* If you are reading this, knowing that you will most likely never see Old Faithful erupt in person, you can watch the full video of its eruption here.
Though our time in Yellowstone was short, and we did not get to see nearly as much as we would have liked to, we did have the opportunity to hit many of the highlights and still find some off-the-beaten-path treasures. To see some of our favorite places in Yellowstone, read Yellowstone's Best Views.
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