Opened in 1872, Yellowstone was the first ever National Park in the history of our country! Ever since that momentous day, families, outdoor enthusiasts and foreigners, from near and far, have been flocking to its timber gates to see the historic beauty that awaits.
We knew it was going to be stunning in one way or another, but the reality was that the lush nature and thriving wildlife blossoming behind every rock and around every corner left us stunned in every way possible.
Where to sleep?:
There are 12 campgrounds to choose from in the park, but if you find yourself visiting during high-season and don’t have a reservation, like us, be sure to get to the park early (before 8am) and ask the Ranger at the entrance gate which campgrounds might have space by the time you drive to them (since everything in the park is fairly spread out).
We entered through the Northeast entrance, the West entrance is the most popular and you will encounter long lines during the season (be sure to check the park entrance schedules here). We ended up finding the last available camp spot in the entire park at Pebble Creek (below), which we really liked. The next night, as we traveled clockwise around the park, we stayed at Bridge Bay, which we thought was too squished together, but it got the job done.
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience and don’t mind spending a bit more for it, plan to enjoy at least one night at the historic Old Faithful Inn (definitely reserve this in advance). Built entirely out of wood gathered from the surrounding 4-mile radius, the Inn boasts a bar and coffee shop with a priceless patio view overlooking Old Faithful herself.
Additionally, you can find huckleberry ice cream (a longtime visitor fave), multiple dining options, free guided tours and an incredible lobby where you can listen to a live violinist from 6-10pm every night of summer. Even if you’re not staying here, make it a point to explore, it’s way worth it!
When/where is best to see wildlife?: During the hours of dawn and dusk, you are sure to encounter furry roadblocks resulting in some epic traffic jams and, luckily, some world-class entertainment as well!
Conveniently enough, the absolute best place to see Yellowstone’s thriving wildlife is from the safety and comfort of your own car (reminiscent of Canada’s Parc Omega), we can’t say the same for motorcyclists though…
It was really exciting the first 2 days, but after sitting in our car until 9pm 2 nights in a row, we found ourselves praying for the bison/goats/grizzlies to move on over so we could make it to our campsite in time to make dinner before dark:
Yes, that’s an actual Grizzly Bear!!
In addition to seeing all of the amazing wildlife, we tried to make the most of our time by getting to know our traffic neighbors. Take a look at this cute little guy who’s been traveling across the country on a motorcycle!
This helpful map below shows the different animal territories throughout the park and if you are looking for the ride of your life, there are two places you cannot miss:
#1. Lamar Valley Bison where EVERYWHERE as we were driving through!
#2. Hayden Valley This is where we had our first Grizzly siting!
What are the BEST hikes in Yellowstone?
Surprisingly, hiking mountains is not as big a thing to do in Yellowstone as it is in other National Parks, but as far as day hikes, there are a ton of incredible options. Here are 2 of our favorites:
Hike #1 Mount Washburn:
7.2 miles round trip, we give this one 4 stars for the adorable baby chipmunks (!!), the old-school, fully-functioning firehouse and the incredibly-expansive views from the top of the 10,243-foot summit:
We dropped our bikes off at one end (Inspiration Point) and drove to the other (Artist Point) so we could hike the entire loop and bike our way back (you can also drive to the various site seeing spots). The trail was gorgeous and there were a number of scenic viewpoints to hike down, up and over, each offering a new and stunning perspective.
The jaw-dropping view from Artist Point:
Be sure not to miss out on Uncle Tom’s Trail: 328 steps leading down to the base of Lower Falls!
Did you know that Yellowstone houses the world’s largest collection of geysers?! Explore these boiling beauties along the meandering boardwalk and, if you’re up for it, hike up to Observation Point (1-mile round trip) for our favorite view of Old Faithful, who blows every 90 minutes!
You can also watch from the Old Faithful Inn patio (as mentioned above) or get a front-row seat to experience the full magnitude of her mighty blow: “Hike” #4: Grand Prismatic Spring aka. Yellowstone’s “Rainbow Hot Spring”
This isn’t as much of a hike as it is an enjoyable tour along a boardwalk that takes you right up to the brilliantly colored spring and other gems:
Yellowstone was brimming with sites and moments of inspiration that are sure to live on in our hearts forever. We hope our tips and insight help guide you to some unforgettable moments of your very own.