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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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