Yellowstone National Park is one of the most surreal, awe-inspiring locations you will probably ever visit in your life! Honestly, it’s like taking a step back in time to when dinosaurs roamed free- except now, they’ve been replaced with the mighty bison. (And boy, don’t underestimate their presence!) It was the world’s first ever national park and actually sits an active super-volcano; which causes the colourful hot springs, mud-pots, and bubbling geysers below your feet. In fact, half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone National Park, which gives you a slight indication to the sheer scale of it here! As if this was not enough, you then have beautiful mountains, forests, lakes and waterfalls to explore; not to mention all the wildlife you can spot. We’re talking bears, wolves and cute little cubs! It is every nature-lovers DREAM, and will leave you will so many stories to tell!
If it’s not already on there, Yellowstone National Park 100% needs to be added to your bucket list, like.. NOW! Trust me! It will completely and utterly change the way you see the world. So if you’re planning your trip to Yellowstone National Park, or simply looking into it to see how you can make it possible, here’s a few pointers to get you started…
How To Get There:
Located primary in the U.S. state of Wyoming, the best way to get there is to fly over to Jackson or Cody, then hire a car to the start of the park (about 50 miles away). There’s no public transportation to or within the park, so driving is a must! It does however then give you the ultimate freedom and flexibility to go wherever you want, whenever you want- which is great when you have so many options and so much you will want to see.
Where to Stay:
There are several campgrounds, cabins, and lodges inside the park (yep- talk about being amongst it all!) There are also a fair few lodging options near Yellowstone’s entrances. With five different entrance gates, it’s very accessible and you won’t be short for choice. Once you decide where you want to go and map out your travel route, you can then figure out the best places to stop to match this. Remember: keep it simple, stay logical and take the time to figure it all out properly beforehand. The park is MASSIVE, so it’s the only way to make sure you 100% make the most of it.
Places to Visit:
Some of the top attractions in Yellowstone -courtesy of Yellowstone Net- are as followed. You can also see where they are in relation to the map, making it easier to plan our your itinerary:
(SPLIT THIS INTO LEFT AND RIGHT AND PUT THE MAP ON THE RIGHT)
#1 Old Faithful Geyser/Upper Basin
#2 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
#3 Hayden Valley
#4 Mammoth Hot Springs
#5 Yellowstone Lake
#6 Norris Geyser Basin
#7 Lamar Valley
#8 Tower Fall
#9 Lower/ Midway Geyser Basin
#10 West Thumb Geyser Basin
Things To Do:
Aside from all the places you have to visit, you may also want to fill a few of the following into your itinerary…
Walking/ Hiking: There are 900 miles of trails through Yellowstone National Park and exploring on feet is a pretty great way to see new things. Trails can take you through the mountains/ canyons, around the lakes and forests, or up to enjoy views from above. You will also find trails through the hot springs and geysers, so there’s certainly a vast mix to choose from. Drive around through the various tourist attractions, but don’t forget to stop off en route/ branch out once you’re there to explore further on foot! It’s worth it, trust me!
Animal Spotting: Amongst all the stunning landscapes and incredible scenery, you will also get the opportunity to see wild animals in their natural habitats. Bison are abundant in the park, with around 4,000-5,000 there. These huge mammals stand at 6 feet tall, and weigh over half a ton. It’s like being within Ice Age! We had one guy walking right alongside our car, and you often see herds off them roaming around. Grey wolves are also on the Yellowstone Nature Wish-List, often found in the Lamar Valley in early morning or late evening. And then there’s the grizzly brown and black bears. Although more rare to see, we were lucky enough to spot a cub just a matter of feet from our car. Uh huh- it was a pretty special moment! The animal encounters will definitely make your trip.
Immerse Yourself In History: You know I said Yellowstone was like the land of the dinosaurs? Well it actually is! Because inside you’ll find a number of paleontological sites with from dinosaur and fossil museums! There’s also petroglyphs and pictographs on rock walls, giving you a jet back to cave-man times! And when it comes to natural history, you’ll see basalt columns formed by lava and petrified forest or ‘fossil forests’ as we know them better- up in the North. If that’s your kind of thing, there is so much to learn here.
Get Active: Yellowstone offers heaps of fun activities within the park. Fishing, rafting, rock-climbing, kayaking, camping! It’s all about getting out in the great outdoors and experiencing as much as you can whilst you’re over there.
Photography: No matter how you choose to plan your trip, make sure you have your camera handy, because Yellowstone is a place you will have so much fun trying to capture! I visited there a few years back now, before my blogging days, so I wasn’t totally on form when it came to my photography. However, here’s a few of my favourite shots:
Aside from that, the final pieces of advice I can give you is to start your day early to not only make the most of the daylight but also beat any big groups and crowds! In high season, it can get pretty busy, so also bear this in mind so that any delays don’t set you back. Make sure you’re have plenty of fuel (you’re going to be driving a fair few miles on this trip!) and take snacks for your journey- it just helps to save time and gives you the extra burst of energy for all your adventures! This trip is a big one, so get it all planned early and book things up as soon as you can. Try not to over-schedule your days (you’re going to want enough time to be able to take all of this in) and a little flexibility means you can explore further in areas you wish. Above anything else, ENJOY IT! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I promise you are going to have an absolute blast!
Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show…