Yellowstone National Park is one of earth’s most breathtaking natural wonders. However, you might experience nothing but traffic if you don’t plan ahead. The key to planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, or anywhere else, is research. It would be a good idea to spend several hours, if not days, learning all you can about the park. There are a lot of resources available online, and a quick Google search will give you all you need to start, but realize that is only a start. The more you know about the park, the more you will get out of your visit. You also need to play way ahead and consider how much you want to deal with crowds. You can have a great winter vacation here as well as a summer one when it is more crowded.
There are nine lodges and about a dozen campgrounds at Yellowstone National Park. They fill up early and quickly, so if you want to stay inside the park you will need to make reservations about a year ahead of time. There is backcountry primitive camping on trails allowed. There are some other lodging options around the park, but planning your lodging is a crucial step. When to visit should also be a major consideration. July and August are the busiest, and most crowded. November through March there are few visitors, but the park is open with some restrictions. Spring and fall are good times to visit because there are only a few crowds, but the weather can be unpredictable. Beginning in April all roads are opened and stay open into October. Also, there is a lot of road repair and construction during the busiest months of June through August, so be prepared for some delays. There is also a Yellowstone App available that has a lot of park information. You may also download a lot of information about the park from the National Park’s website.
You will likely have to drive at least part of the way to get to the park. don’t limit yourself to the park. Try to work in some extra time to enjoy the scenery both inside and outside the park. There are a lot of interesting small towns to visit, and some of the drives around the park offer outstanding scenery. There are a few entrances to the park and a lot of roads inside once you get there. This is where some research will come in handy. There is a lot to explore inside the park, but there are also some very nice things outside of it as well.
It is important to have a plan, but it is also important to remember you are on vacation. You may not be able to work everything in, so set priorities. Also, leave some time in the schedule for changes in plans. You will find things of interest you were not counting on, or some things may not work out like you thought. Have a little patience and flexibility to keep it a relaxing vacation. Find a nice balance between trying to work things in and not getting frustrated when things do not go smoothly.
There are a dozen or so visitor centers or information stations. Once you get there you can visit them all to get current information. There are a lot of trails to enjoy but use common sense. Don’t approach wild animals, or feed them. Also be mindful of the hot springs and geysers. Park officials say more injuries are caused by those things than anything else. Another good idea is to check schedules of special programs and tours. Park officials are experts on the park, and they are a great source of information.