On the Road to Yellowstone National Park
Next on our list was Yellowstone National park. We left Glacier after our stomachs were full and camp was broken down and began our nearly 400 mile drive to Yellowstone. It took us almost seven hours to get there…including all our pit-stops and pop-up adventures. The drive from Glacier to Yellowstone was INCREDIBLE…so much greenery and water! We stopped and made lunch at Flathead Lake State Park, just outside of Bigfork, Montana. While we ate we soaked in all the scenery the park had to offer. We found some geocaches, ate some wild huckleberries and quietly sat and watched two beautiful bucks having their lunch in the sunshine. After lunch we hopped back in the car and continued our journey! The best part about road-tripping is being able to stop and see unbelievable places that you wouldn’t have ordinarily seen…and Flathead Lake was one of those places!
We rolled through the west gates of Yellowstone around 7:30 pm. The gates to Yellowstone are open 24 hours a day (rangers leave their post at 7pm) but the others facilities such as the visitor’s center and shops shut down at 7pm. Seeing Yellowstone for the first time “after hours” was awesome. There were VERY few people on the road and nearly no one on any of the trails…a rare occurrence in Yellowstone. Within five minutes of being in the park we were already seeing elk, deer, and wolves! We drove around the park for quite some time going from campground to campground looking for any sites left. Unfortunately, every single campground in the park was full (I guess that’s what we get for getting there so late!). Yellowstone has 12 campgrounds total…5 of them are reserve-able and the remaining 7 are on a first-come, first-serve basis. The price for a night’s stay in a campground ranges from $15-$50, depending on what amenities you are looking for. Most of the campgrounds get filled by 10 AM so I suggest checking here first to get a live update of which sites are still available: Yellowstone campground status
After reluctantly accepting that there would be no camping to be had in Yellowstone, we found a nice hotel just outside of the park. When the next morning came I was up bright and early to get the day’s adventures rolling. After driving through the gates, we were once again greeted by the abundant wildlife and this time it was something that every tourist going to Yellowstone hopes to see…BUFFALO (yeah…I thought they’d be cooler too)! It was crazy to me just how prevalent the wildlife is, even though there are hordes of people rolling through the park at any given moment. Driving through the park allows you to see much of the dramatic landscape that the park has to offer. We drove through the west entrance and made our way south towards the Tetons. Along the main road through the park, there are many pullouts to stop and enjoy the sites…some of them even offer short hikes. We made stops at Firehole Lake, Midway Geyser Basin (hiked Biscuit Basin Trail: easy, 0.7 mi), Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake and Lewis Lake. The park was simply captivating. Seeing and hearing the ground shake and hiss is not an everyday occurrence for a “city” girl…there was something quite eerie about seeing billowing steam stacks rising from the earth, something almost prehistoric. Around every corner there was a new geologic feature that was even cooler than the last! This trip I only saw about 1/3 of what the park has to offer and can’t wait to get back. The one thing I did not enjoy in Yellowstone though, was the amount of people!! Either start your day super early or after hours if you want to soak up all the sites before the lines pick up!
- $30 – per vehicle
- $15 – per individual (on foot)
- $50 – per vehicle for BOTH Yellowstone and Grand Teton (distance between the two parks is roughly 30 miles)
NOW ON TO GRAND TETON!