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Top 10 Yellowstone Tips: You Need to Know

We finally made it to Yellowstone National Park after traveling for two years in our RV. I don’t know why we didn’t get there sooner! It was amazing. But we did learn a few things while we were there. So we thought we would pass on our top 10 Yellowstone National Park tips. Hopefully, it will prepare you for your first time in Yellowstone.

Grand canyon of the yellowstone, yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone Top 10 Tips

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Yellowstone has 2.2 million acres of beauty to explore, so you will want to plan your trip before you arrive. Make a list of your must-see items and sort them by location. Then decide which location(s) you will explore each day. The goal when planning your trip is to drive as little as possible. You don’t want to go back and forth through Yellowstone. It could cost you hours.

There is so much to do in Yellowstone. Of course, you will want to see the big things like Old Faithful. But you may also want to go horseback riding or participate in the Junior Ranger program. You can find the entire list of activities here.

Helpful planning links

Yellowstone National Park map, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Yellowstone National Park

2. Download Maps

Once you enter Yellowstone, you will be unplugged most of the time. Cell service and wifi only exist in a few spots throughout the park. Downloading maps onto your cell phone will allow you to find your way around once you drop your signal. We downloaded google maps for offline use. If you need help, here are the instructions to download maps for IOS and Android.

Buffalo, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Buffalo Sighting at Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trailhead
Our First Day in Yellowstone! We LOVE this place!

3. Change Locations

If you are spending more than a few days at Yellowstone, change locations during your visit. The park is so large it can cut down on your driving time if you move locations. We started our trip camping just outside the east entrance and moved outside the west entrance during our visit. It cut our drive to Lamar Valley and the north entrance in half.

4. Bring a Picnic

Yellowstone is not known for it’s delicious, healthy food, so bring your own! Once you drive 1-2 hours to reach your destination popping out of the park or back to the hotel for lunch is not practical. And if you are visiting during COVID, your options for food in the park are very slim. We packed drinks, snacks, and lunch in our coolers daily. The best part will be the view you will have during your meal!

Old faithful geyser, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Old Faithful Geyser

5. Binos

This is a crucial tip for anyone hoping to see as much wildlife as possible. Many of the animals like to stay along the treeline, making them difficult to see without binoculars. The treeline can be 100 yards or more. Without them, we would have missed a bear along the stream at the bottom of our cliff and a few elk.

We ordered an inexpensive pair of binos from Amazon that did a great job for us in Yellowstone.

Bear, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Bear sighting Grand Loop Road near Mammoth

6. Wear Good Shoes

You will end up putting more miles on your feet than you expect during your trip. Be sure to wear good comfortable shoes so you can make the most of your vacation. No one wants blisters and achy toes at the end of each day.

Mudpot, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Mudpot

7. Talk to Park Rangers

If you run into a Ranger, be sure to say hello. Rangers have the scoop on the animal population. They can tell you about the most recent bear activity or where other animals have been spotted recently. They are a wealth of knowledge!

Grand Prismatic spring,Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv
Grand Prismatic Spring

8. Visit the Welcome Center

The welcome centers are a great place to start your vacation, especially if you are unsure where to go first. Unfortunately, during COVID, many of them are closed. But there was someone outside the park headquarters in Mammoth answering questions.

Visitors center

9. Be Aware of Road Closures

Road construction and road closures are not uncommon in Yellowstone. During our Yellowstone trip, the road from Canyon Village to Roosevelt Lodge was closed. This is a major thoroughfare and added hours to our drive to the Lamar Valley. While you are planning your trip check Yellowstone’s website for updates on road conditions.

Yellowstone Road closure map, You me and the rv
Yellowstone Road Closures

10. Expect Delays

One of the most important things to remember is there will be driving delays. Patience will be needed until you leave Yellowstone. If a bear, bison, elk, or any other animal is near the road or within view, drivers will stop. And they will stop wherever they are. That includes in the middle of the road. Your hour drive may actually take you two hours or longer if there is a lot of animal activity. Luckily, once the rangers hear about animal activity, they will come out and direct traffic.

Elk, Yellowstone tips, you me and the rv

Your Top Yellowstone Tips

I hope these simple tips help you as you plan your trip to Yellowstone. If you have been to Yellowstone and have tips to share, please put them in the comments below. I know they will be helpful to everyone.

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Thanks for Hanging Out with Us

Phil & Stacy, from You, Me & the RV

We will see ya on the road!

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18 Comments

  • Avatar

    Steve Karolek

    Great tips, thanks for sharing. We used many of these tips when we visited a few years ago. Hope to return as full time RVers soon!

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    Debbie Reindl

    I’ve started planning our Yellowstone/Teton trip for Sept/Oct 2021 and have just gotten a couple of nights at Fishing Bridge!

    I know you talked about packing your lunch/snacks for the day of exploring.

    Is there any reason why we can’t drive our rig so we have all the comforts of home as we meander through the parks?

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      There were RV driving around while we were there. If you have a smaller rig, that would be great. When we were there (September), parking was hard to find at the more popular places: Old Faithful, Prismatic Spring, Mammoth. If your rig requires an RV parking spot instead of a regular size, there will be even less parking.

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    Kim

    My husband and I have camped in the US and traveled internationally for many years. Our motto is “We’ll see and do what we can and plan to come back to do/see more in the future”. This way we are not disappointed or upset if we can’t “do” or “see” everything since there is no way to actually do or see it all anyway. If you plan for things to take longer, cost more and/or be crowded you’ll have a much more realistic travel experience.

    We were in Custer State Park in SD about 15 years ago and the bison were everywhere on the road so we didn’t go anywhere for most of the day….but our kids had a BLAST watching those huge animals from our truck and still talk about it to this day (they are 26 and 28 now).

    Also, you have to be flexible and plan to come back if it’s an area you really enjoy. Half the fun of traveling is having unexpected things happen that you can’t know about in advance and just going with the flow!! It saves so much drama and stress 🙂

    One of the many RVers that I follow can be found at WHEELINGIT.US. Check out their site; it has TONS of information for folks who RV in the US and Europe (where they have been living in a house but still occasionally RVing since 2018). I think you are just as informative as Nina and Paul and do a GREAT job educating your followers.

    Keep up the good work and safe travels!!

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    Stewart Mhyre

    We stayed at the Headwaters campground just south of the south entrance of Yellowstone. It’s also at the north end of the Grand Tetons. So you get the best of both. Great campground.

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    Alberto Bernaola

    We went to Yellowstone this summer, during the Bison/Buffalo rut season. Spent 6 days & nights there in two different trips. We were disappointed, for we didn’t find out about the road closure, from the Yellowstone Canyon to Roosevelt Tower until we got there, most likely my fault. Well found out that the road may be re-open in 2021, but not certain.

    Now, we plan to return back to Yellowstone in 2022, God willing, for it’s the park’s 150 anniversary (1872-2022). My recommendation is to book early, whether, hotel, cabin, campground, RV, etc…

  • Avatar

    Shelia E WHITTEN

    Thanks guys we enjoy your travels. We are entering our 12th yr of fulltiming in Jan. We missed meeting you while in San Antonio this last time you were there, maybe next time we can say hi. We have been to Yellowstone several times, starting with our. pop-up camper We did not know more sites are available for big rigs. We have a 40ft bus. Great info. Stay safe abd safe travels.

    Shelia

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    Jimmie

    I would discourage anyone from thinking Cody is a good place to stay for day trips into the park. It’s 50 miles to the gate and another long ride to get to any of the best sites. You’re looking at a tiring 200 mile day! I haven’t looked at the parks you stayed at but highly recommend the West entrance for day trips into the park. I stayed at Henry’s Lake SP in Idaho which was only about 10 miles to the gate and another 10 miles to the main figure 8 road that takes you everywhere in the park. West Yellowstone has RV Parks and lots of places to eat and drink at the end of a long day of sight seeing!

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      We did not stay in Cody during our time at Yellowstone. We moved into the Forestry campgrounds on the east side and then moved to the west side. You are right Cody would be way too far.

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    Linda Ard

    Great tips. We visited Yellowstone last year and stayed in Island Park Idaho near the West Yellowstone entrance. Island Park is a great little town with lots of things to visit also. There are lots of forest campgrounds that take bigger rigs (ours is 38 foot). The Henrys Fork River area is awesome too. Mesa Falls, etc, We were there over 4th of July so the Park was really crowded but we found plenty to see around Island Park. The state park (Henrys Lake SP) is to die for. Lots of birds too. Safe travels.

  • Avatar

    stephen England

    Stacy your Tips as always are spot on and appreciated. Thanks to your driver as well for getting you in position to do your thing.

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