Yellowstone Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Beware of bears Yellowstone is prime bear habitat To avoid an attack, make plenty of noise when hiking to avoid surprise attacks, and secure any food items before calling it a night. Learn more about safety in Yellowstone here.
- Not much is open during the winter Except for those found at the park's headquarters near the Mammoth Hot Springs, the majority of Yellowstone's service areas and roads close during the winter.
- Don't forget your permit If you are looking to camp outside of the designated camping areas, you will need to obtain a permit from one of the visitor centers or ranger stations.
In 1807, when John Colter (a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark) first described the wonders of what is now Yellowstone National Park, everyone suspected that he was embellishing. But there is no doubt now that the park is indeed extraordinarily beautiful. If you're looking for the ultimate outdoorsy getaway, this would be it. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails meander through forests, along streams and up mountains. But be prepared to share the road with Yellowstone's more permanent residents like buffalo, elk and sometimes even grizzlies. Steaming geysers, bubbling mud pits and multicolored pools are sure to renew your interest in geology, while more than 3,000 square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers and waterfalls are sure to inspire the nature-lover in you.
Although Yellowstone attracts about three million visitors every year, chances are -- unless you spend your entire trip at Old Faithful -- you won't see much of them. Yellowstone's 2,221,766 acres sweep from the northwest corner of Wyoming onto the edges of Idaho and Montana, offering plenty of untouched territory to explore. And while that may seem daunting at first, just remember that you can always come back.
How To Save Money in Yellowstone
- BYOB Bring your own bed. A space in a campground is much cheaper than a room in one of the park's lodges. Plus, many campgrounds come equipped with showers, flushing toilets and even laundry facilities.
- Stay away in the summer Because summer witnesses the largest influx of tourists, hotel and campground rates tend to rise. You'll spend less if you visit during the off-season.
- Do your own cooking Yellowstone does feature several sit-down restaurants, but they can end up putting quite a dent in your savings. Consider bringing your own food.
Although there are several restaurants, cafeterias and snack shops within the borders of Yellowstone Park, consider bringing along a cooler with lunch items and snacks -- so you don't have to worry about staying near one of the park's more developed areas.
Yellowstone is also home to several sit-down restaurants located in the most visited areas, like Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village and Yellowstone Lake. Cafeterias serve burgers and sandwiches while upscale restaurants like the Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room provide selections of game meats. Although the fare is far from fine, reservations are necessary during the busy summers.
Other dining options can be found in the small towns surrounding the park, including Cody, Wyoming and West Yellowstone, Montana.