Tips For Visiting Yellowstone

I am currently in Yellowstone with Lucy, her family, our mom, and The Hardworking Husband. Yellowstone has been in the news a lot, recently. As you know, the HH and I visit Yellowstone often. We have learned quite a few things during our visits, so I thought I would share 5 of my best tips for visiting Yellowstone.

Last week Steamboat Geyser went off for the first time since 2005. We wished we had been there to see it. We will be visiting that area hoping to see some minor eruptions from that geyser.

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Mammoth Hot Springs

Tip #1

If you can, take your own food.

Food in Yellowstone is EXPENSIVE and not always the tastiest. If you are unable to bring your own food, there are grocery stores in the surrounding towns that are less expensive than buying food in the park.

The following is our menu for our three days in Yellowstone:

Sunday Dinner: Hamburgers & Potatoes
Monday Breakfast: Kolaches
Lunch: Hotdogs & Chips
Dinner: Tacos
Tuesday Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
Lunch: Sandwiches & Chips
Dinner: we will either be home or in an area that is less expensive to eat out.
We take a small tabletop propane grill. We use it at the cabins we are staying in, and in the park in a picnic area. We also take a towel to wrap around the grill in case it hasn’t cooled completely before we put it in back in the car.
We make sure we stay in a place that has a kitchen. The rooms with kitchens aren’t that much more expensive, and it saves you much more than you would pay for eating out.

Tip #2

My second tip is to take a lot of water, or beverages that don’t have caffeine. Most people going to Yellowstone aren’t used to the elevation. It is easy to get altitude sickness (main symptom is terrible headache). Altitude sickness is actually similar to a hangover. The main cause of it is dehydration.
You will be walking a lot in Yellowstone, and the sun is rather intense because of the high elevation. So drink lots of water. You need to feel like you are tired of drinking water. I often will make decaf tea to drink because I’m not a big fan of water. It gives me flavor and hydration without the caffeine.

Tips #3 & #4

The temperature changes greatly during the day in Yellowstone. It is cool in the mornings and evenings but gets warm during the day. And as I said before, the sun gets very intense because there is less atmosphere between you and the sun.

So I have two tips to go along with this. First, sunscreen and lots of it! You can burn a lot faster at higher elevation. I am part Swedish and burn pretty easily, so I reapply sunscreen about every hour if I’m in the car some, and about every 45 minutes if I’m out walking.  Stand in the shade when possible, and wearing a hat is helpful as well.

Secondly, dress in layers. You probably will want shorts by mid day, but you will be chilly in the morning and evening. So a jacket and maybe long sleeves are a good idea. The forecast while we are here is highs of mid 70’s and lows of mid 30’s. And remember, standing in direct sunlight at that elevation in the mid 70’s feels much hotter!

Tip #5

I could go on and on about tips but I will end with this last one. Some of the surrounding towns are quite a drive from the park. So we pick a town to stay in that is just minutes from the park gates. While Jackson, WY is close to the gate to Grand Teton National Park, it is quite a ways to get into Yellowstone. Cody, WY is similar to Jackson in that its bit of a drive to get into the park. Gardner and West Yellowstone are close to the gates. We have always stayed in West Yellowstone because we live closer to it.

Oh, I must add one more tip. Every time I’m in Yellowstone, I see someone WAY too close to an animal. These animals are wild. Please stay away from them. Yellowstone Park Rangers recommend to stay 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other animals. I say it should be even farther.

Check out the YNP website when planning your trip. There is so much information over there.

And if you’re bringing kids with you to Yellowstone, check out Lucy’s 8 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone with Kids.

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5 Important Tips for Visiting Yellowstone | Are you planning to travel to Yellowstone National Park? Make sure you know these important tips & tricks so you can stay safe, enjoy your trip, and have the best vacation ever.

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  • Great post. This is on my list of places to travel one day and I can’t wait to go. I need to know the real deal when visiting places so I will have this pinned and ready.

  • We visited Yellowstone six years ago and loved it!! The kids loved being able to see the wildlife and Old Faithful! Made me nervous to see how close some people felt they needed to be to the wildlife!

  • I have never been to Yellowstone. i have family that has been there, but it’s been years. Looks and sounds like a great place to visit. We love the outdoors so I’m really hoping that we’re able to plan a trip there someday.

  • Christi

    This is a really great post! I’ve never been to Yellowstone before (or any national park – I need to remedy that!) and these tips will be really useful for when we do go. It looks like a beautiful place to visit!

  • Censie ‘Mumby’ Sawyer

    Great tips. I have never been but it is on our family trip list for sure. Yellow stone has been in the news a lot for people being really stupid! It is sad, I hope people start using their brains so the space doesnt get shut down.

  • The tip about the caffeine was amazing. I never would have thought about the caffeine affecting the body at the elevation. And I never leave home without gallons of water!

  • Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing. I didn’t realize
    that the change in altitude made it easier for you to get sun-burned. And you’d
    think the animal warning wouldn’t be necessary, but these days you can’t put
    much past anyone.

  • I went to Yellowstone ages ago, when I was a child…and consequently hardly remember it! I would love to take the kids there one day as they are nature and animal lovers and would be in absolutely awe there!

  • Rochkirstin Santos

    Bringing own food during travel is nothing new for backpackers who are in budget. It’s okay to try the local food but if it’s super expensive and not delicious, it’s not worth a single try. In any case, how expensive is it really?

  • elgeorgia

    I went to Yellowstone a few times as a child. We drove from NYC to Cali a few times to visit my grandparents. I loved it and always wanted to visit with my own kids. It just never happened. It looks as beautiful as I remember it. I hope I can arrange to bring my family there sometime soon! Diane Sullivan (FB)>