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How to Maximize Your Yellowstone National Park Road Trip
Yellowstone National Park is a spectacular place to go for your road trip. It boasts 2.2 million acres, providing road trippers an unparalleled opportunity to explore some of the most amazing wonders, like the Grand Canyon.
Driving through the national park is a fabulous treat for anyone. Yellowstone National Park is home to gushing geysers, hot springs, lush forests, alpine rivers, hundreds of wildlife, and the popular Old Faithful. Are you ready to have an epic road trip? Here is the best way you can maximize your national park trip.
Top things to prioritize during your Yellowstone National Park
Preparing for your road trip beforehand is vital if you want to have the best time possible. Read on to learn the top things to prioritize during your road trip:
Prepare an itinerary
One mistake you should avoid is underestimating the size of Yellowstone National Park. Many beginners often underrate the time they can take to enjoy the Yellowstone National Park experience. Thus, ensure you have an itinerary for your road trip. Also, make sure to have some free unscheduled time. The national park is all about nature, and some things may not be scheduled. Therefore, you may require some extra time for an unexpected geyser eruption or wildlife encounter.
Book accommodation in advance
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most well-liked and visited Parks in the United States. Thus, getting a lodging or hotel room inside the park during the peak seasons, such as summer and spring, may be challenging. If you plan to have your road trip during the summer, make sure to book several months earlier.
Begin your road trip at dawn
Starting your road trip during the early hours can bring you several benefits. For one, you will avoid crowds. Most landmarks, such as the Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Spring, and Old Faithful Geyser, are popular landmarks that get crowded quickly. In addition, the morning hours provide one of the best times to enjoy the wildlife scenery. Most animals in the park are often active in the mornings. The ideal time is around 10 Am.
Do not approach any wildlife
There are some crazy videos and pictures that often go around every year on the internet showcasing individuals’ irresponsible behavior at Yellowstone National Park. In most cases, avoidable accidents occur, so keep your distance from wildlife.
Scenic drives to take in your Yellowstone National Park road trip
The best way to maximize your road trip is by taking scenic drives. Here are the top drives that you should take:
1. Lamar Valley
Lamar Valley is near the Northeast Yellow Stone National Park Entrance. It will only take you 30 minutes from the Northeast Entrance to get to Lamar Valley. Lamar Valley has gorgeous scenery that you can enjoy.
It is a world-class wildlife viewing area that provides a great place to see wolves, moose, grizzly bears, pronghorn, deer, foxes, elk, and bison. The best time to drive through Lamar Valley is in the early mornings or late evenings when most animals are active.
2. Lower Grand Loop
The Grand Loop road provides one of the spectacular ways to hit several Yellowstone National Park highlights. It curves in a figure-eight shape and features the Upper Loop and Lower Loop sections.
The Lower Grand Loop is only 96 miles and provides picturesque drives with abundant scenic sites to relish. You can start your road trip in the Lower Grand Loop in West Yellowstone, Cody, or Jackson.
The Yellowstone National Park Lower Loop has some of the park’s most popular features. This route provides you with an opportunity to see the following:
- The Grand Prismatic Spring
- The Hayden Valley
- Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
- Midway Geyser Basin
- Artists Paintpots
- Norris Geyser Basin
- The Old Faithful
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Fishing Bridge
- Bridge Bay
3. Upper Grand Loop
Like the Lower Loop, the Upper Loop has impressive scenic wonders. This route runs for only 70 miles, and you can start your trip from Yellowstone’s Northern Entrance. The upper Grand Loop provides you with an excellent opportunity to enjoy the following:
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- Tower Fall
- Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
- Mt Washburn
- Artist Point
- Noris Geyser Basin
4. Firehole Canyon Drive
The Firehole Canyon is the best place to take a short 2-mile drive. It is a narrow, one-way, steep road, 0.8km off the South of Madison Junction. On this drive, you will enjoy the scenic view of Firehole Falls, Firehole River, and the gorgeous natural swimming hole.
Firehole Canyon’s swimming hole is one of the two swimming places present in Yellowstone National Park. One thing to note is that Firehole Swimming Area does not have a parking lot, so you may need to park your vehicle on the roadside.
5. Wildlife safari from the East Entrance to the Northeast
Yellowstone National Park is the Serengeti of America. One of the best ways to maximize your road trip is to go on a wildlife safari. Begin your drive at the park's East Entrance and end at the Northeast Entrance. The distance between the east and north Entrance is only 91 miles.
Yellowstone features over 67 different kinds of mammals and 300 bird species. Make sure you carry a good pair of binoculars, long camera lenses, and a spotting scone. Also, note that you should keep a 100-yard distance from animals like wolves and bears.
6. Firehole Lake Drive
Firehole Lake Drive presents an excellent opportunity for an off-the-main road drive. You can access Firehole Lake from the east side of Grand Loop Road. One of the best things about this drive is that you will see many hot springs and geysers. Some of these geysers and hot springs include the following:
- Surprise pool
- Firehole Spring
- White Dome Geyser, which erupts every 10 minutes to 3 hours
- The Great Fountain Geyser, which erupts after each 8 to 12 hours
- Firehole Lake
- Pink Cone Geyser
- Artesia Geyser
- Young Hopeful Geyser
- Black Warrior Lake
- Steady Geyser
- Hot Cascades
7. Fountain Flat Drive
The Fountain Flat Drive is best for you if you want to avoid crowds. It is present on the west side of Grand Loop Road. This short drive provides the perfect place to watch wildlife like the bison and elk. It also has the Nez Pierce Picnic Area, where you can picnic. One thing to note is that this drive may be closed due to bear activity in spring.
The best way to maximize your Yellowstone National Park road trip is to know the best scenic route and prepare an itinerary in advance. Also, driving through areas like the Lamar Valley during the early hours of the day or at dusk can ensure you have the best time possible. However, ensure you have enough cash to cover your car’s running costs, including auto insurance, road tax, and maintenance.