We spent several days in Yellowstone National Park this summer. Our goal was to experience as much of the park as we could while there. This meant each day we arrived to the park early in the morning and left late in the day.
We learned quickly arriving early to the park has its advantages.
Our Park Strategy
Over half of the annual visitors come during the summer busy season of June, July, and August. To avoid the crowds, we visited the most popular areas before 10:00 AM each morning. Finding parking was no problem and access to the natural landmark was uncrowded and enjoyable when arriving early.
Then when the crowds started rolling in each day, we would move to areas of the park that were more rugged and less dense with people.
Although visitors can not avoid the traffic completely, this strategy worked well for us overall.
Yellowstone National Park has over 3,400 square miles or 2.2 million acres of natural diversity. The size of the park was a surprise to us so we chose to travel a different quadrant of the park each day.
Interestingly, each area of the park seemed unique from the other. Each quadrant offered different landscapes and opportunities for us to explore.
Some of the diversity within the park includes the hydro thermal features or geysers, wildlife, forests, valleys, lakes, rivers and many spectacular areas like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
The park has the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. Some of these mammals include black bears, grizzly bears, wolfs, coyotes, mountain lions, bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and deer.
Determined to see a bear one day, we traveled the region we called the northern loop of the park. This loop took us about 6 hours to complete as we stopped often to look for wildlife and take short hikes to points of interest.
After searching all day we finally encountered a mother bear and her two cubs. I was unable to get a clear picture of the cubs but was lucky to get this picture of the mama bear.
Established in 1872 to protect the active geysers, Yellowstone National Park was the first established National Park in the United States. The Old Faithful Geyser was a must-see stop for us and was the busiest place we visited while there.
Yellowstone National Park is truly a unique place and is a destination everyone should visit at least once in the life. If you chose to visit the park, be sure to schedule at least 3-4 days there. It is rich with wildlife and has vast opportunities to explore the wilderness at it’s best.
To learn more about Yellowstone National Park, check out our Pelican Valley hike.