I’m finally home from a 2-week vacay at my family’s summer home in West Yellowstone, MT. In the 60s, my grandparents built a home about 30 miles outside of West Yellowstone. My mom spent every summer in West from the time she was 6 years old to her early 20s. My fam and I don’t make it out as much as we like to, but man when we go it’s like time stops; nothing ever changes.
I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park quite a few times, so I know all the main attractions and exactly when to hit them, so you aren’t bombarded by crowds. Yes, it’s possible to see Old Faithful without hundreds of other people around!
Yellowstone National Park in One Day:
Ideally, you’d take more than one day to see all the things in this beautiful Park, but not all of us have that kind of time. Yellowstone Park is roughly 3,500 square miles, but you can see a large majority of its vast landscape in just one day.
Here’s what you should see!
Yellowstone Park has the worlds most extensive collection of geysers- Old Faithful being its most famous.
Erupting every 35-120 minutes and lasting 1 1/2-5 minutes. If possible, make this your first stop in the morning. It’s crazy how much cooler it is watching Old Faithful blow with only 25 people around verse 500.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake in North America.
Part of the drive through the park will be along the lake. I love packing a lunch and stopping at a pull off near the lake to eat lunch.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Along the Yellowstone River including 3 different waterfalls. There are multiple pull-offs including the Upper and Lower falls, but the main viewpoint of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is at Artist’s Point.
Mammoth Hot Springs
A large complex of Hot Springs up on a hill- it looks like something out of the Ice Age. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture a picture of Mammoth, but it is a must see.
Tips when in Yellowstone Park:
Prepare to Drive Slow
99% of the time traffic comes to a halt it’s because there is an animal on or near the road. Get your camera ready and keep your eyes peeled for bison, elk, deer, or even a BEAR if you’re lucky.
Pro Tip: DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR TO LOOK AT THE ANIMALS. You are not at a zoo. These are wild animals and they are so unpredictable. The people you see out of their cars are stupid. Do not do it.
If you’re planning on spending more than one day, make reservations for your hotel, any tours you want to take, etc. If you visit during the high season, you will not find a room the day of. Hotels and Airbnbs sell out months in advance, so do your research and plan, plan, plan!
Layer Layer Layer:
Mornings and evenings are cold. Yes, even in June and July. I’m talking lows in the 30s. As soon as the sun goes down the temp’s drop drastically. Wear warm clothes and layer cooler clothes underneath or pack shorts and a tank and change in the car.
Beat The Crowds
Get an early start. This year, we left the house at 4:30 AM- we wanted to catch the sunrise to shoot a couple of campaigns. You do not need to start that early, although we did catch Old Faithful with only about 20 people around instead of 500.
To beat most of the crowds especially in high traffic areas like Old Faithful, I would suggest entering the park no later than about 7:30 or 8 AM.
If you’ve been to Yellowstone what’s your favorite attraction?! Mine is probably Old Faithful. I love the Inn the most (:
Also, I’m a HUGE National Park freak. I love visiting them. What is your favorite National Park?!
Let me know in the comments below (:
All photos by The Rosemary Hen