Related Yellowstone National Park Favorites Tips

  • My little sister, my mom and me in 1948
    My little sister, my mom and me in 1948
    by grandmaR
  • Morning Glory pool in 1948
    Morning Glory pool in 1948
    by grandmaR
  • Boardwalk area in 1948
    Boardwalk area in 1948
    by grandmaR

Most Viewed Favorites in Yellowstone National Park

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Making plans

    by toonsarah Updated Nov 25, 2006

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    Favorite thing: When planning our trip I used the Yellowstone Park area of the National Park Service website – as well as VT of course (thanks Amy and others!)

    It’s also really worth sending for a Trip Planner Package from the Online Bookstore. We got the Basic Trip Planner which included:
    - Yellowstone: the Official Guide to Touring America's First National Park (with some excellent photos - I thought this was too nice to risk spoiling by taking it with me!)
    - Yellowstone/Grand Teton Road Guide (incredibly useful)
    - Yellowstone Travel Map
    I also ordered the set of 8 trail leaflets describing Canyon, Fountain Paint Pots, Mud Volcano, Upper Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, West Thumb and Historic Fort Yellowstone.

    Together these cost about $20 and helped enormously with planning the trip, as well as making great souvenirs afterwards.

    Fondest memory: Thanks to all the advance planning we were able to make the most of our time in Yellowstone. I particularly enjoyed getting off the main loop roads on to some of the quieter one way roads such as Firehole Lake Drive and Virginia Cascade Road

    Planner guides (pic from website - link in text)
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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Visitor Centers

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Oct 29, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Be sure to visit at least one of the Visitor Information Centers while you are in Yellowstone. This is the place to gather up all the information that will help you to understand the different areas that you will visit. The friendly workers and rangers that greet you will answer all your questions in a professional, friendly manner. You can also purchase books and postcards in most of these centers. If you have the time watch some of the short films shown at the centers, and be sure to look at the small museums. For example, if you visit the Old Faithful Visitor Center you will learn about how geysers and the other hydrothermal features work, as well as general information about the changes going on within the park. Old Faithful also posts predictions when various geysers will erupt in the area, including Great Fountain on the Firehole Drive. At Grant Village Information Center you will find an informative and interesting exhibit on the 1988 Yellowstone Fires, as well as explanations about the roll of forest fires in the park. If you have the time watch the 15 minute film on the 1988 fires when you are at Grant. At the Fishing Bridge Museum and Information Center there is a nice display of birds and some mammals that can be found in the park. In Mammoth the Visitor Center is housed in a historic building, and again has a display that will help to orientate you to the park. The Canyon Visitor Education Center features information on the volcano that lies under Yellowstone Park, as well as other interesting information.

    Visitor Center In the Fishing Bridge Area
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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    When to Visit

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Jan 8, 2014

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    Favorite thing: In the winter months only the far north road in the park is kept plowed. For this reason you can only drive into the park from the North entrance at Gardner, Montana. The Mammoth Hot Springs campground and Hotel are kept open for much of this off season time. You may only drive from this entrance to the small town of Cook City. You then must turn around and retrace your route. In the winter you may enjoy cross country skiing, or reserve ahead for a snow coach trip. It is fun to drive the open road, which crosses through Lamar Valley where you can look for wildlife in the winter snow. (See my travelogue Lamar Valley in Winter.) This road will not, however, take you to any of the geysers, that the park is so famous for.

    After the roads are plowed, May and June gives you the opportunity to see newborn animals, as well as large numbers of wildlife, before the midsummer heat settles in. Spring weather, however, can be very unpredictable bringing everything from sunny days to rain or even snow. If you come too early, you will find that a number of services are not yet open, and the plowing may not be finished. The later you go in June, however, the more people you will find visiting the park. Check the park website for opening and closing dates for Spring and Fall. Operating Hours & Seasons

    July and August are usually nice weather wise, but this is when most of the visitors come to the park. More than half of the 3 million annual visitors make their visit during these two months. Also wildlife viewing in mid summer is much poorer, as many animals move to the higher altitudes to escape insects and heat. Since the grasses are still greener at the higher altitudes, there is also a better food source for grazing animals.

    Weather in September and early October is unpredictable. It can be very nice, warm and sunny, or it can bring rain, or even snow, with cold temperatures. However, there are few visitors, and we can sometimes reserve a campsite within a couple of weeks notice. Usually you will see a large number of wildlife during these two months, and if you are in the right place, you can hear bull elk bugling. Be aware, however, that services begin to close down in early September. Again, check out the park's website for the closing dates during the fall season.

    Be aware that cool spring or fall temperatures, especially if mixed with much wind can make viewing of hot pools difficult, as you try to catch glimpses of the pool through the steam.

    My second photo is a fall view across Lake Yellowstone.

    Fondest memory: What I really love about the fall months, besides enjoying the park without heavy crowds, is the bugling of the bull elk. When the rutting season begins, the bull elk will bugle and spar with other males as they compete to win the favor of the cows. Once you hear this sound, you will never forget it.

    A favorite spring experience for me, was observing a female peregrine falcon sitting on her nest within a cliff pocket, and seeing a pair of wolves with two pups.

    Bull Elk with Females in September Yellowstone Lake In September
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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Yellowstone Day Hike Pamphlets

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Jan 15, 2011

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    Favorite thing: Rangers have recommended that we do not go far into the backcountry due to the danger of bears, suggesting that we keep our hikes to under 5 miles. Of course this doesn't mean you won't come across a bear, it just simply puts in in a closer position for backing away from trouble, or reaching help if necessary. If you wish, however, you are allowed to travel along even longer hiking trails. Stop at any of the visitor centers and ask for the small, one sheet leaflets on day hikes in the various areas of the park. There are at least six available: Day hikes in the Tower Area, Mammoth Area, Fishing Bridge and Lake area, Canyon Area, Old Faithful Area, and Grant Village and West Thumb Areas. These small pamphlets are free of charge, and will give you a list of hiking trails in each of the areas, including small maps, distance of the trail, estimated time it will take you to walk the trail, the level of difficulty, and where the trail head is located. They will also give you a few rules and suggestions for a safe hiking experience.

    Fondest memory: I love taking short hikes in the park, and so far my favorite short hike is the Storm Point hike. This trail is closed, however, if bear activity is noted in the area. This can especially happen in the spring.

    Pelican Creek Tail Head In September
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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Concession Adventures for Your Information Only

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Oct 20, 2004

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    Favorite thing: Besides the activities that I have discussed in my tips, the concessionaire offers a variety of other activities. I have never taken these, but some sound like a lot of fun. I am listing these for you, in case you would like to include them in your plans. I would recommend that you reserve these ahead of time. There are Stagecoach Adventures offered at Roosevelt Lodge, Photo Safaris, Twilight Shadows Excursions offered from Canyon Lodge that will take you out for evening wildlife viewing, a series of bus tours that do the driving for you and take you to highlighted areas, and Old West Cookouts which depart from Bridge Bay, Lake Hotel, Fishing Bridge RV Park, and Canyon Village. According to the literature I picked up on the Old West Cookouts in the fall of 2004, you will sit around a campfire and are served baked beans, potato salad, chuckwagon corn, cole slaw, corn muffins, watermelon, and apple crisp. With the main dish being steak cooked on a grill. It is all served up with cowboy music, storytelling, and if you sign up for the interpretive Roosevelt Cookout Roundup you will be delivered to the meal by horse or wagon, stopping along the way to view wildlife.

    For additional information about these activities call 307-344-7311, write to P.O. Box 165, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, or visit www.TravelYellowstone.com

    Yellowstone River
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  • Yaqui's Profile Photo

    Trip Checklist!

    by Yaqui Updated Sep 14, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Barring road construction, most park roads are open to automobiles from about May 1 to the first Sunday in November; please plan with this in mind.

    Make lodging reservations as early as possible.

    Plan your arrival to secure your campsite early in the day.

    Review park regulation and permit information before your arrival.

    Pack clothes that can be layered and that are appropriate for the season of your visit.

    Get up-to-date road and weather information close to your time of visit by calling (307) 344-7381.

    To purchase books, maps, or pamphlets about the park before you arrive, contact the Yellowstone Association at (307) 344-2293.

    Plan your visit link

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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    For Additional Information

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Nov 13, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Lamar Valley is my favorite place to view wild life. For awesome beauty, the canyon and its beautiful falls is my favorite place. However, the geysers never cease to amaze me, as do the beautiful colors of the hot pools.

    For additional information visit the National Park Service web site at www.nps.gov/yell

    Headquarters: P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

    Phone: 307-344-7381

    In various visitor centers throughout the park you will see small trail guide booklets with signs asking you to donate 50 cents for each booklet that you take. You can pick up booklets at places such as Norris Geyser Basin, Old Faithful Area, Mammoth Hot Springs, West Thumb Geyser Basin, and Fountain Paint Pot Area. These are well worth the 50 cent cost requested for each booklet, as they contain detailed maps of the boardwalks and paths, with each feature displayed, and information about the various features you will see.

    Fondest memory: Watching my favorite geysers: Beehive, Great Fountain, and Echinus. Hearing elk bugle, and wolves howl. Watching wildlife such as bears, wolves, and mountain sheep as well as gazing into the beautiful hot springs, and visiting the spectacular Yellowstone Canyon and its falls.

    There are Many Geyser Basins to Choose From
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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    If You Enjoy Waterfalls

    by KimberlyAnn Updated Nov 9, 2010

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    Favorite thing: If you enjoy water falls, and have the time there are a number of smaller falls besides the main attractions of the Upper and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Tower Falls. Take the time to pull off at the turnouts along the main road to view some of the additional smaller falls. One of the favorite stops along the main road is the 84 foot Gibbon Falls located on the west side of the park between Madison and Norris Geyser Basin.

    There are also a variety of waterfalls that you may view from hiking trails.

    These two websites will offer you additional information on waterfalls in Yellowstone.

    Yellowstone Waterfalls

    Yellowstone Nationall Park Waterfalls

    In my second and third photos you can see a view of a waterfall located between the Brink of Falls Trail and the South end of the North Rim Trail that runs along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

    Gibbon Falls Falls near Brink of Falls Trail and North Rim Falls Near the S end of the North Rim Trail
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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Pine Bark Beetles and forest fires

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Oct 15, 2010

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    Favorite thing: As we cruised the highways of Yellowstone, we came across many areas of forest that were full of dead trees – some still upright, others leaning and many down on the ground in a great tangle. I’ve seen enough forest fires in Canada to know what caused this – in fact, the 1988 fire in Yellowstone was the worst in history and damaged more than one-third of the National Park. It takes forests a long time to recover from fire damage.

    Fondest memory: However, it was strange to see other huge tracts of forest appearing to be dead - just reddish or grey upright skeletons of trees remaining, but it did not look like fire damage. It turns out that all the evidence now points to the effects of our warming climate as being the cause of this massive outbreak of dead trees in western North America. The attack is being carried out by mountain pine beetles that burrow deep inside whitebark pines, laying their eggs there and damaging the internal nutrient flow within the trees. According to the internet, scientists are now convinced that (1) historical winter temperatures in whitebark pine areas were frequently cold enough to kill all mountain pine beetle life stages everywhere but in the most protected sites, such as in the tree bole (trunk) beneath the insulating snow cover and (2) summer temperatures typically did not result in enough hotter temperatures to allow the beetles to complete an entire life cycle in one year. It now appears that global warming allows their eggs to hatch in less than a year and the winters are so mild that the beetles don’t freeze to death in their early stage of life.

    The first photo was taken in the mountains as we left through the East Entrance toward Cody, the second in Hayden Valley where the Yellowstone River flows and the last in Lamar Valley as we drove in from the Northeast Entrance.

    Dead trees after leaving the East Entrance Pinebark beetle damage in Hayden Valley Lamar Valley damage in the north
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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Our driving route inside Yellowstone NP

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Oct 10, 2010

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    Favorite thing: After taking 1.5 days to reach Billings, Montana we were then in position to reach our first accommodations booked for the Yellowstone NP portion of our trip. It was in the little town of Gardiner, located just outside the North Entrance of the park, and would take us about 3 hours to cover the distance, mostly on Interstate 90 highway. Instead, I decided we would take the scenic route of Highway 212 by veering off I-90 shortly after leaving Billings. This would add 55 miles and an extra hour onto our trip but it had the great advantage of allowing us to enjoy the amazing Beartooth Highway as we climbed into the mountains and entered the park sooner via the Northeast Entrance (the ‘Yellow’ route in the map).

    Fondest memory: The next day was spent entirely on the ‘Purple’ route as we headed directly south along the western side of the park, exploring geysers and hot springs the whole way along, including seeing Old Faithful spout in late afternoon. We still had to reach our accommodations for the next two nights in Grand Teton NP, so continued out the South Entrance for the relatively short drive to our Lodge booking at Jackson Lake.

    Another day was spent exploring in Grand Teton NP but the day afterward, we returned to Yellowstone on the ‘Orange’ route. This time we took in some of the attractions of both Yellowstone Lake and River as we turned up along the east side of the park. We stopped when we reached the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and, while there, hiked to Upper and Lower Falls. Time was running out, so we then backtracked down the river to Yellowstone Lake where we turned east and headed for home, out the East Entrance toward our next accommodation in Cody, Wyoming.

    Our three days of driving in Yellowstone NP
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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    the inadequate size of my....lens

    by richiecdisc Updated Dec 13, 2009

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    Favorite thing: Many come to Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful and his contingent of geothermal buddies but for me, wildlife is the real calling card of this first national park and what amounts almost to a game preserve that you can drive through yourself.

    Fondest memory: It was an icy morning. It was not even autumn in much of the western hemisphere but summer had decidedly ended here, in Yellowstone National Park. Though not an alpine park, few realize the general high elevation of the world's first national park and its fame lies more under ground than from any peaks jutting up from it. But high it is with an average elevation of 8000 feet. Since most visitors arrive in summer, this means pleasant temperatures and a respite from sweltering heat from which many come but once August fades away, Yellowstone prepares for winter in earnest. Autumn is short in this neck of the woods and on this morning in particular it seemed the park had completely bypassed it.

    What summoned me from my toasty warm sleeping bag at this ungodly hour was the call of the wild, wolves to be precise. No, I did not hear them howling from my tent, that would be too romantic. It was just the knowledge they were out there along with a whole world of wild creatures lumbering around the 200,000 acre refuge, enjoying dawn's early light. My wife meanwhile was enjoying dawn's early slumber and pulling D from her warm cocoon was not an enviable task despite her agreement the previous night prodded by visions of dancing with wolves. It went painlessly enough and we passed on making up a hot beverage to save time. It would have been cold by the time it reached our lips anyway so we just enjoyed a cereal bar on the drive over to the Lamar Valley, noted for wolf activity.

    We arrived to a throng of telephoto lens emanating from a small hill overlooking the valley. It seemed we were not the only ones looking for dance partners. We scampered up and joined a line-up that suddenly had me suffering a severe anxiety complex about the size of my, er, lens. My rickety cheap tripod was not helping either: my frozen fingers fumbled to gain some control and I wished I had invested in a better one. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)

    thankfully, coyotes are not as elusive as wolves
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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    dancing with the wee wolves

    by richiecdisc Updated Dec 13, 2009

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    Fondest memory: As meager as my zoom was compared to the giants surrounding me, it was still too heavy for my tripod which I had purchased mostly for family photos and backpacking, where weight is the prime consideration. It had served me well, especially for the price, but now I was finding it very inadequate for use with zoom, often requiring me to guess just how far the lens would droop after locking in, no easy task when trying to focus on something two football fields away.

    No matter, the chase was on and there was a pack of wolves hunting down a scurrying pronghorn who was, well, running for his life. They were pretty far away and I would have had to have a much better lens to really get a good shot of it. Unfortunately, that $10,000 was being spent on the current six-month trip my wife and I were now on, traveling around as many US National Parks as we could. I pondered whether it would have been worth staying at home to have such a big one but that fantasy was short-lived. I was after all, in Yellowstone National Park watching a pack of wolves not only chasing down a pronghorn but now as I peered through what now amounted to a small telescope, actually catching and killing it.

    We would spend the next few dusks and dawns doing pretty much the same thing intermingled with afternoons visiting the park's key and for many most important geothermic sights. It wasn't always wolves we danced with but there was no shortage of partners. Coyotes, bison, and an incredibly playful fox just to name a few. Some were so close, I needed to use my wide angle to capture them. Just about every photo I took was better than what I got of the wolves but the one I did get brings back great memories. Memories of the chase not captured, their capture and ravenous eating, all flood back into my mind when I see it. It's just a lone wolf, one that was a bit closer and just sitting there, not in the chase. I can still hear him howling and almost feel my fingers frozen fumbling with my tripod.

    yes, that little black spot is a wolf
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  • kazander's Profile Photo

    Entrance Fees

    by kazander Updated Feb 20, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Entrance to Yellowstone is $20 per car for 7 days. We were also visiting Grand Teton National Park (which actually would have been included in the $20 fee). We were, however going to be staying longer than 7 days, so instead of paying the $20 fee twice, we opted to get a National Parks Yearly Pass, which costs $50. This pass gives you access to any National Park for one year. We don't have any immediate plans to visit another National park, but hey, you never know. We will be prepared :) The card will also make for a fun souvenier.

    UPDATE! 1/2007
    When I was there we purchased a now discontinued National Parks Pass,( Which will still be honored for 1 year from the date we received it) The NPS have since introduced a new system. The "America the Beautiful" Passes. These will replace the traditional pass, the Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access passes. The new standard pass is $80, which is $30 more expensive then the pass we bought but does allow access into the areas that were only formerly available with the Golden Eagle pass (which at $15 more that the regular pass was still $15 cheaper than this new one) Ah but time marches on and prices keep going up, what can you do? It's still more than worth it to support the parks. You can of course still buy a weekly pass to each park, which is $15 per vehical, $7 if you are on foot or bike.

    Check out the NPS website for more details on ALL passes.

    For all National Parks Passes
    http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm

    Yellowstone Sign
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  • Florida999's Profile Photo

    Some more photos and comments

    by Florida999 Updated Aug 11, 2006

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    Favorite thing: If you only had one day at Yellowstone, I would go see Old Faithful and the area around it, and drive over to Hayden Valley to see the bison and the Mud Volcano area.

    Personally, Yellowstone is so out of the way for most people , no matter where you are coming from, that I can hardly imagine that anyone would only spend one day there. I would say you need at least 3 days to see most of it. We spent 4 nights there, which was just enough to see everything I wanted to see and go on one hike. We were up from very early in the morning until it got dark, with not much rest in between. So, if you want to take your time , you will probably need a week.

    Mud Volcano area Waterfall Roaring Mountain

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  • annk's Profile Photo

    Old Faithful Post Office

    by annk Written Jul 12, 2003

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    Favorite thing: The Old Faithful geyser area has its own post office. It's located next to the Snowlodge, and behind the Old Faithful Lodge. Very convenient for sending postcards to fellow VTers, friends or family. I even had to mail one to myself :-) just to get the Old Faithful post mark.

    Old Faithful Post Office
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