Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Here’s a quick list of the top ten tips to optimize your visit from some of the fine folks who work as park rangers. Practical tactical advice and well worth the watch.
Bears mentioning that we want to emphasize #4: Give Wildlife Room, Use a Zoom. Its seems every week stories emerge of tourists disregarding park guidelines by getting to close to wildlife. Remember folks, the animals in Yellowstone are indeed wild and you need to respect their space. Nuff said.
1. Make the Most of Your Visit
Vehicle reservations are not required to enter Yellowstone. You only need to pay the entrance fee or present your park pass. Once you’re here you can hike, fish, boat, attend a ranger program, and more! Swing by any visitor center to get advice for your next adventure or book a guided tour through any of our commercial partners.
2. Arrive with Accommodation Plans
All campgrounds and lodging require a reservation and are usually full. No camping or overnight vehicle parking is allowed in pullouts, parking areas, picnic grounds, or any place other than a designated campsite in the park. If you don’t have a reservation, the nearest campsite or hotel room may be hours away, so have a plan before you arrive!
3. Expect Traffic Delays, Crowds and Limited Connectivity
Millions of people visit Yellowstone every year. Wildlife along roads and multiple road improvement projects often make drive times longer than expected. Connectivity in the park is limited, so download the free National Park Service app (and offline content) before you arrive for great information at your fingertips!
4. Give Wildlife Room, Use a Zoom
Animals in Yellowstone are wild and dangerous if approached. Help keep wildlife wild by not approaching, encircling, following, or feeding any animal. Stay 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves and stay 25 yards (23 m) from all other animals. The safest way to view wildlife is through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars.
6. Follow the Beaten Path
In thermal areas, boardwalks take you to amazing places, protect the park, and keep you safe. People have been severely burned and killed after leaving the boardwalk or reaching into hot water. Geysers, mud pots, and hot springs are delicate, so do not throw anything into any hydrothermal features, touch them, or change them in any way.
7. Protect Your Pets
Yellowstone is a wild place, and pets have been lost, injured or killed in the park. Bringing a pet to Yellowstone may limit your activities, as they may accompany their humans only in developed areas of the park, such as roads, parking areas, and campgrounds.
8. Flood Your Flames
The park is very dry, and just a spark could ignite a wildfire. Check the current fire danger rating and restrictions before you arrive. Campfires must always be attended and cold to the touch before abandoning — soak, stir, feel, repeat.
9. Stash Your Trash
If a trash can happens to be full, find another. Always store your food securely. Animals that eat human food can become habituated and may need to be killed. Food scraps belong in the trash, not on the trail!
10. Enjoy the Ride
Observe posted speed limits and use pullouts to watch wildlife, take pictures, and let other cars pass. Help ensure everyone’s safety by not stopping your vehicle in the road. When pulling over, be sure to park with all four tires fully to the right of the white line.