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A Drive Through Yellowstone National Park

July 26, 2017

Yellowstone National Park spans over 2 million acres, and is known for its abundant wildlife and geysers like Old Faithful. The world's first national park, is huge, and attracts over 3 million guests per year making it part of the top 10 most visited! I've visited this park twice and I still feel like I haven't made a full dent in it. It's so vast and with all the different wildlife there, you just never know what you'll see! Each visit can tend to be different so I'm outlining a few quick tips and some major highlights here you'll want to see on your first and return visits! 

 

 

 

How to Get Here:

Official website with full directions and detailed information on this awesome park can be found here. Getting to the park is fairly easy. I actually drove from Los Angeles which takes about 14 hours with bathroom breaks. This was part of a larger road trip for me, so I made a few stops in Arizona and Utah to break it up. To fly, you can choose between the Yellowstone airport, Jackson Hole, or Idaho Falls. Those would be the closest in that order, and either way requires you to rent a car to get around. Wyoming is vast and mostly all wilderness, so for me I personally would not rely on a bus, and public transport there other than that is non-existent!

 

 

How Long to Stay:

Visiting Yellowstone National Park can feel quite overwhelming, which is why to do it right you need more than a day. Ideally 3-4 at a minimum if you want to explore, 1-2 if you just want a few highlights and see the main attractions. Whichever length of time you choose, you are sure to see wildlife and some of the most breathtaking scenery- photo ops are plentiful! 

 

 

 

Which Entrance?

There are 5 entrances to the park. I chose to stay in West Yellowstone, Montana which seemed to provide close and easy access to the park via the West Entrance, as well as a small village with price-friendly lodging with lots of dinner options. With lines to get in the park daily, I highly recommend getting the national parks pass, or the 3 day park pass in advance so you can drive right in and start exploring! Though tours are available and from what I hear a great experience, I chose to drive through the park myself by following the map for points of interest and getting out at each stop to walk around or do short hikes.

 

Weather?

In Yellowstone National Park it's almost always cold. Even in the middle of summer be prepared to dress in layers and bring rain gear. Don't let that stop you from seeing the major park points though. Even with 4 days I felt I still had more to see, and it was pouring the day I went to Old Faithful which is why there won't be photos of that location in this post.  

 

Points of Interest:

As mentioned, Yellowstone National Park is huge so there is a lot to see! Below are the main stops (other than Old Faithful as it was raining that day) that I was able to fit in on this trip.

 

THE GRAND CANYON OF YELLOWSTONE 

One of the most gorgeous sights in Yellowstone National Park is the beautiful Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Quick easy trails and view points allow access to this canyon, which have both lower and upper falls. Both accessible by car, then short walks to the view points.

 

THE GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING & LOWER GEYSER BASIN  

These are probably some of the coolest things you'll see in Yellowstone National Park! Bridges and walking paths make it super easy to view these gorgeous basins! On a clear day, almost the entire prisms can be seen and the colors are unreal.

 

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS 

Another great walking path through some really cool mineral depositions and crystalized calcium carbonate. Feels like the dead sea of Yellowstone National Park.

 

GIBBON FALLS

From the west entrance, this is the first photo op! Pull up and take a shot of these pretty falls!

 

LAKE YELLOWSTONE

Gorgeous viewpoint you can drive up for this shot of the lake, and wildlife are always nearby!

 

WILDLIFE

Everyone always wants to know if you will see wildlife, and the answer is YES, you will. It seems like the animals are always present and of the two visits I've taken to the park, I've seen bison, elk, moose, deer, bald eagle, wolf, bears, and coyotes and some animals I don't even know the names of! There is no certain time to view them, they can just pop out at any moment. Bison are the most common and it's hard to leave the park without seeing them! The bald eagle was my favorite capture!

 

It's hard to fit everything in on this park which is why most people come back, or can spend weeks here getting lost in it. For my next trip, I'll be taking a guided hike in the deeper wilderness in hopes of seeing more wildlife!

 

Top things to know here and there's even an app! Free on the App Store and Google Play. Happy Travels!

 

 

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