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7 Tips For Planning A Trip To Yellowstone National Park This Summer

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Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, and it remains a top vacation destination to this day. Home to wildlife ranging from grizzly bears to moose, and stunning natural features such as colorful hot springs and roaring geysers, it’s the perfect place for a memorable getaway.

Here are 7 tips to make sure you have the best time possible during your visit:

Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park.

1. Make Your Reservations Early

With Yellowstone being such a popular place to visit, reservations for lodging in the area, especially inside the park itself, can fill up several months in advance.

Because of this, you’ll want to try to finalize your trip plans and make any needed reservations as far in advance as possible to make sure you’re able to secure a room or a campsite.

Aerial view of Old Faithful and Old Faithful Inn.

2. Get Up Early To Beat The Crowds

Yellowstone sees thousands of visitors a day in the summer months, meaning some of the more popular spots inside the park, such as Old Faithful, can get incredibly busy. There are a couple of ways that you can beat at least some of the crowds.

Perhaps the easiest is by getting up early, especially if you’re staying outside of the park and going to be traveling inside. By doing so, you can avoid some of the entrance lines, which can get lengthy later in the morning. For those who are unable to arrive early, afternoons on weekdays can also be a bit slower for entering the park.

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Yellowstone hot spring at dawn.

3. Be Bear Aware

Yellowstone is an absolutely gorgeous slice of nature, but with that comes a variety of wild animals. Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are one such animal. Before visiting the park, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with good bear safety protocol, including storing food in a bear-proof container and not in your tent, camping, and potentially bringing bear spray with you while hiking.

Even the nonpredatory animals can pose a danger if approached, though – be sure to keep a safe distance (at least 25 yards) from any herbivores in the park as well, such as bison and moose.

A mother bear with four cubs.

4. Listen To The Park Rangers

While Yellowstone is a one-of-a-kind, absolutely stunning place, it also comes with its fair share of dangers, from wildlife to hot springs that reach temperatures high enough to scald the skin. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure to listen to the National Park Service's guidance while visiting the park.

They’re there to help keep both nature and visitors alike safe, and they also frequently have some great insider tips and stories about the park. Drop by a ranger station or check out what programs might be scheduled during your trip.

A park ranger looking into the distance.

5. Don't Overschedule Yourself

Consisting of over 2 million acres and spanning three states, Yellowstone is a pretty big national park. Some of the popular things to see, such as Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, are also fairly spread out. Because of this, you’ll likely want to plan out some of the things you want to see most and not try to cram too much into your trip.

If you’re only visiting for a couple of days, for example, you may have a more enjoyable trip picking a couple of spots you’d like to see most instead of trying to visit and see everything in the park.

Hot spring at Yellowstone National Park.

6. Keep In Mind Travelling With Pets Might Involve Some Extra Planning

Our four-legged friends can sometimes feel like members of the family, so it isn’t a surprise that many of us will want to travel with them. If you’re considering taking your pet to Yellowstone, however, you want to look up the rules and regulations around doing so ahead of time and plan accordingly.

For example, dogs are not allowed on the trails in the park, instead being limited to parking lots and campgrounds. Because of this, you may want to look up places where you could board your dog locally during the day or for your trip.

A dog is in a car with a happy family.

7. Sunsets At Yellowstone Are Gorgeous

As a final tip for having an amazing trip to Yellowstone this summer, one particularly magical thing to do can be to view the sunset from one of the park's geyser basins. The waning afternoon light makes the steam rising from the hot springs and geysers almost appear to glow gold, and there are often fewer people around at this time.

Additionally, dusk can be an amazing time for viewing wildlife – though be sure to keep safety in mind and consider heading back before it gets dark out.

Old Faithful Geyser at sunset.

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