First of all, Yellowstone is huge. For $35 per car, we were able to get a park pass for a week. That probably would’ve been enough time to see everything, but we only stayed for 2 full days. There were 5 entrances to the park, two of which were closed due to the massive flooding earlier in the season. We came in from the west and tackled the north loop on the first day.
There were some challenges with the north loop we weren’t expecting. We decided to stop in Mammoth Hot Springs for lunch. It would’ve worked great, but the restaurant was closed there due to the earlier flooding. The only thing that was open was a general store were everyone went to buy food. They had a couple picnic tables set up outside which we ended up sharing with a random family. A lot of people were just sitting on the ground eating. Eating in the park was a big problem. But there were plenty of stores, gas stations, and restrooms. They even had an automotive garage on site for car repairs.
For the most part, parking was not a huge issue. There were little areas to get out and see the sights along the loops. We especially enjoyed the geysers and hot springs even with the whiff of sulfur in the air. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful breathtaking places on Earth, surely it is to be found here.
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without wild animals. We saw a bear, elk, and a ton of bison. There were many signs reminding tourists that these are wild animals. We decided not to go hiking on the back trails because of it. If you do, you would need to buy or rent bear spray in case of a bear attack. We decided to stay on the main walkways for the attractions which provided us with plenty of walking without having to go on the hiking trails. It also allowed us to keep within our allotted time frame of two days and still see a lot. Time management was very tricky because we never knew how long it would take to drive somewhere or how long the walkway was to get there. Plus we needed to add extra time to pull over and look at animals. Animals could be blocking the roads, there are long lines at the park entrance, and of all things we ran into road construction in the park.
We received several detailed maps of the park and talked to several park rangers for information. Cell phone coverage is spotty within the park itself so I wouldn’t rely on that totally for navigation.
The picture above and below are of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The above picture we walked down a steep descent to see a waterfall going down into the canyon. It was a challenging path. The picture below was taken from the opposite side of the picture above.
We didn’t end up getting out of the park until after 8 PM the first day. We were really tired, hungry, and worried about where we were going to eat since it was late on a Monday night. However, we found that West Yellowstone had plenty of restaurants open. We stopped at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon. It was really packed, but their pizza was amazing. It ended up being my favorite meal on the trip. We learned a lot on that first day and we thought we were ready for day two.