5 Things I Should’ve Known Before I Visited Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is the first US National Park ever established. Which, naturally, makes it the oldest National Park of the US and also, if I’m not wrong, the 2nd oldest in the world. Although the characteristic and attractive feature of the Yellowstone is the Geysers, it is also a great place to watch Wildlife, beautiful landscapes and has a Canyon too (ofcourse not as huge as the Grand Canyon). Due to this, Yellowstone had been in my wishlist for a long time. Although, I did visit Yellowstone, back in September 2018, I wasn’t exactly as satisfied as I had hoped it be. Now that I think about it, there’s nothing wrong with Yellowstone, but there were a few things that ruined my experience completely.

Here’s 5 things that I wished I had known before I took the trip:

1. The traffic

As previously mentioned, we visited Yellowstone in September, to be more precise – during the Labor Day Weekend. Yellowstone already is a very popular place, but during the Labor Day Weekend, it just got even busier. Since Yellowstone has just one highway that goes around the park in the shape of an ‘8’ (refer to image below), the traffic would really show up! The park entrances were overcrowded – it would take almost an hour to just enter or exit the park. Near popular spots, we had to park almost a mile away as the parking spots got full. This definitely affected our trip experience as we never got enough time to spend exploring the park. Instead we were always stuck in the traffic.

2. Taking flight to Jackson Hole Airport instead of Salt Lake

To save some money we took a flight to Salt Lake City, Utah which is roughly 320 miles/5-hour drive or 7-ish hours with frequent stops. On the other hand, Jackson Hole Airport is located within/near to Grand Teton National Park, which is roughly 1/2-hour drive away from Yellowstone’s South Entrance – Grant Village Visitor Center.

While we were still planning our trip, we were confident that this 5-hour drive is not a lot as we were 5 people who knew how to drive, what we didn’t take into account was how much time we would lose due to the frequent stops and, also, the traffic. The other thing that we didn’t consider was that, we also had to drive 7-hours all the way back to Salt Lake City after spending a tiring and exhausting 3 days. So, this strategy is definitely not recommended and I would definitely spend a couple hundred more and rather fly to Jackson Hole Airport.

3. Renting an Airbnb closer to the park

The Airbnb’s that we had rented were almost an hour’s drive from the park entrance. But what we didn’t consider was the time we would lose while having our meals and getting stuck in a traffic as bad as mentioned in point 1. So on an average, if we spent an hour having our meal, and an hour at the park’s entrance, then the park was at a 3-hour drive from our Airbnb. The same applied on our way back. So in a day, we wasted 6-hours by doing absolutely nothing.

This was something that we could’ve totally avoided. All the good places to stay were near the park were booked since it was a popular weekend. As a result, we ended up booking something that was farther away. If only we started our planning a bit earlier, we could’ve avoided this.

4. You won’t always get to see the Wildlife

All of us knew a lot about the abundant and diverse wildlife at Yellowstone, but something that didn’t know was they were not always going be near the reach of humans – it’s a National Park not a Zoo. As a result, when we didn’t get to see a single Bison, or an Elk, or a Black Bear etc. we were left disappointed. If we had not counted on watching a plenty of wildlife in the first place, we definitely wouldn’t have been so disappointed.

5. Not all Geysers are colorful and pretty, some are Overrated

There are hundreds of Geysers in the Yellowstone, but one thing we didn’t know was that, only some of them look beautiful. If you’re like us, visiting Yellowstone to capture those colorful Geysers to boost your Instagram likes, chances are, you’ll be disappointed. The one’s that are the most colorful and beautiful are, in the Midway Geyser Basin which has the Grand Prismatic Spring and in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. The others, aren’t really attractive.

Also, this is just my opinion – Old Faithful is Overrated. The Geyser erupts at periodic intervals, but be prepared to be disappointed if you feel your mind is not blown. People have built so much hype around Old Failthful and how the natural/scientific phenomenon makes it erupt, but when I visited, the eruption lasted for just 30 seconds. We could see another Geyser a little farther than Old Faithful which was erupting continuously for about 10 minutes – but no one bats an eye about it!

Thank you for reading

So these were the 5 things that I wished I knew before. If I had known, my first visit to the Yellowstone would have been prettier, happier and definitely not disappointing.

I hope you found this article informative. Please let me know in the comments if you did.

4 thoughts on “5 Things I Should’ve Known Before I Visited Yellowstone National Park

  1. When I visited the US I would have loved to have visited Yellowstone National Park but I unfortunately ran out of time. It is definitely on my list for the next time I visit. The Geysers look beautiful! It is such a shame that is was so busy and you spent a lot of time traveling and sitting in traffic, but visiting the park does sound like an incredible experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      Ohh yes, if you leave these 5 things aside, Yellowstone is one of the best National Parks in the US and I would definitely go back again and explore more. And yes, you should not miss it the next time you’re in the US 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who has visited Yellowstone more times than I can count, I totally understand your frustrations with all of these things. It didn’t used to be so overrun. And Old Faithful is definitely not the coolest geyser in the park.

    I can’t believe you didn’t see any bison or elk… it must have been an extremely busy weekend with too many people around scaring the animals away.

    Liked by 1 person

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