How to get there and where to stay
During our roadtrip in the west of the USA we visited the Yellowstone National Park. The Yellowstone is not only the oldest national park in the world, it is probably also the most famous one. Due to the volcanic activity, the park is unique and well-known beyond the borders of the USA. There are countless geysers, hot springs and mud pots that attract millions of visitors annually. In addition to the volcanic activities, the largely untouched landscape with its magnificent wildlife is also fascinating. There are teeming bisons, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, elks and many other animals. We were absolutely overwhelmed by our visit to the Yellowstone National Park and would like to share our experiences and give some helpful tips!
Directions to the Yellowstone National Park
The Yellowstone National Park is located in the north-west of Wyoming, far from major cities. The nearest big cities are Salt Lake City (about 520 km), Denver (about 860 km) and Seattle (about 1,200 km). There are four entrances to the park (south entrance, west entrance, north entrance and east entrance). If you do not come straight from Canada, the west entrance and the south entrance are the most likely the best entrances for you.
We came from Arizona and Utah via Salt Lake City to the Yellowstone. Because of the huge distances, you should findt interesting stops on your way where you can spend the night. Otherwise you would only run from one motel to the next.. We decided to stay in Salt Lake City. From there we took Interstate 15 north, via Pocatello and Idaho Falls. We then took the road to Swan Valley, Victor and Jackson to the Grand Teton National Park. The route to Idaho Falls is not very spectacular, but as soon as you leave the interstate it will become really nice. The scenery is beautiful and you pass some small, still quite original townships. The Grand Teton National Park is a worthwhile stopover on the way to Yellowstone. From there it is only a two hours drive to the south entrance.
Staying in the Yellowstone Nationalpark
Hotels, lodges and campsites
There are many different types of accommodation in the Yellowstone. There are hotels, lodges and campsites. Depending on whta you want, an overnight stay can cost from 15 dollars (campsite with tent) to several hundred dollars (lodges and hotels). Since we always try to get by with the lowest possible budget, we decided to stay on campsites. You should book hotels and lodges as well as the campsites way in advance (at leat in the main season from July to August) . There are always a certain number of “first-come-first-served” sites at the campgrounds, but these places are usually taken early in the morning. The official site to book accommodation at Yellowstone is www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com.
As in most of the American National Parks you can camp in the wilderness at Yellowstone (backcountry camping). This requires a so-called “Backcountry Use Permit”. With this permit you can stay on the designated individual campsites far from the large campgrounds. You can stay between one and three nights in these places. You can reserve a backcountry permit online and then get the actual permission at the local visitor center. For more information on planning your backcountry trip, visit the official site of the National Park: http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm.
The Yellowstone has a total of 12 campgrounds. Reservations can be made on five campgrounds (for over 1,700 sites). Seven of the campgrounds are “first-come first-served”, so you can not reserve. The Campgorunds with reservations available are located directly at the larger visitor centers in the park (Madison, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Bridge Bay, Canyon and Grant Village). They are very large and are usually equipped with showers, stores and petrol stations. If you prefer a place quieter and closer to nature, you should head for one of the “first-come first-served” campgrounds. This requires (at least in the main season) a little planning, since the camprounds usually fill up very early. In order to avoid unnecessary stress during the main season, we recommend to reserve a place for the first night and then change to a “first-come first-served” campsite early in the morning on the next day. Campground rates vary between $ 15 and $ 27. More information can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm.
We spent the first night at the Grant Village Campground and went to the Norris campground (highly recommended!) early in the morning of the next day.
Here’s a list of the campsites at Yellowstone:
The highlights of the Yellowstone National Park are listed on the next page. Please turn to the next page!