Our Adventures Gone Wrong: How NOT to See Yellowstone Park

Important Note: Okay. So generally speaking we like to keep things positive ’round here. Y’all know us. We’re really positive people and are almost always able to make the best of any bad situation we might run into out there on the road. After all, life’s too short to spend any kind of time dwelling on the negatives, whatever they may be and wherever they may happen! Besides, it’s all subjective anyway. Everybody’s experiences out there are different. We might think something totally sucks, but someone else might think it’s the best thing since sliced bacon. But every now and then, we’ll run afoul of lady luck and find ourselves in a situation we can’t wait to get out of. And when that happens, and we feel we can at least impart some useful information to you guys, we might feel compelled to share our experiences with y’all. But we promise we’ll do our best to keep ’em all as fair and as objective as we can. Honestly. So here goes! And y’all let us know what you think!

So this is gonna be a tough one.

We’re conflicted, you see. There are so many good things one could say about Yellowstone National Park. It’s a national – no –  a global treasure. And yet we’d feel like we weren’t doing our jobs if we weren’t completely honest with you guys about our time there. In everything we do and write and shoot and edit, we try to capture the genuine spirit of a place. We hope to give you an accurate idea of what each place we visit is like. Check that – actually, we hope to give you an accurate, objective accounting of our personal experience at a place. Experiences vary from person to person of course, so clearly our opinions may differ from yours. So with that in mind, we just try to give it to you straight.

And if we can be straight with you, we had a miserable time in Yellowstone. Just awful. For a lot of reasons. And we know we might catch some hell for sayin’ that. But that’s the way it was.

Full Disclosure

Our most memorable view of Yellowstone.

Okay, there are absolutely a few things about Yellowstone that we knew in advance would be a problem. And mainly, we’re talking about the crowds. You know, we could be smack-dab in the middle of the most beautiful place on earth, but if we’re surrounded by swarming crowds of people and traffic our shared instinctive reaction is to get the hell out of there immediately. Suffice it to say we get anxious in crowds, and it’s tough for us to handle. Well it just so happened that thanks to our schedule, the only time we could spend to visit Yellowstone happened to be right in the middle of summer, when the crowds and traffic are notoriously at their worst.

We could very well  have decided not to go of course and save ourselves the frustration, but when presented with the chance to visit Yellowstone for the very first time – regardless of the time of year – it’s very, very difficult to say no. After all, Yellowstone’s one of those magical places you hear about your entire life. Ever since you were a kid you’ve heard stories about the buffalo and the hot springs and Old Faithful. Right? So, given the opportunity, we made plans to visit for a couple of days as part of a big summer road trip a few years back, knowing full well we’d be driving into a situation that was gonna be tough for us to stomach. And knowing and accepting that, we tried our dead-level best to not let that color our overall experience or opinion of the place. We honestly did. It just didn’t work out all that well.

The other contributing factor here may very well be the time we allotted to spend in the park. Yellowstone is an enormous place after all, and it’s very true that you’ll need several days at least to fully experience all the wonders the park has to offer. Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time. We scheduled three days (two nights) out of our road trip to try and experience as much of the park as we could – which again, we knew would be tough. And as it turns out, once we arrived we couldn’t wait to leave. We spent only one night there (after paying for two) and got the hell out the next morning. So there’s that.

Lastly, we were driving into Yellowstone after spending three absolutely incredible days exploring the Grand Tetons and Grand Teton National Park. And after a lifetime of hearing how amazingly beautiful Yellowstone is, we fully expected the Tetons to pale in comparison. So the bar for Yellowstone was set pretty high. Too high, probably.

So suffice it to say we were setting ourselves up for disappointment in America’s premiere national park. And lo and behold, that’s exactly how it shook out.

Yellowstone: The Good

But let’s start on a positive note, shall we?

The best thing about Yellowstone is without a doubt the abundant, magnificent wildlife that at times feels like it’s no more than an arm’s length away. Take away the big crowds and you have an unparalleled wild animal paradise.

Within 30 minutes of our arrival into the park we came across a beautiful, majestic bull elk grazing in a pasture, completely unconcerned and undeterred by our presence no more than 100 feet away.  And he was the first of a countless number of elk we saw, just driving around the park. Same goes for the buffalo. They. Are. Everywhere. There were actually a couple of old buffalo who lived inside our campground, and wandered through the trails and very near the tents at all hours of the day. And yes, we did see a bear. About 150-200 feet off the road, foraging for a snack on the forest floor. And again, this is all within a matter of a few hours!

The landscapes and geothermal features of the park are indeed very cool too. But the way we saw it, after you’ve seen a couple they honestly all begin to look the same. Again, our opinion. It’s truly the wildlife that steals the show here.

One of many beautiful buffalo we saw during our visit.

But that’s not to say the wildlife is not also problematic at times, especially when it comes to traffic. Getting around Yellowstone (especially in the summer) is no easy task, simply because the park is huge and the few roads that wind through the park are mostly two-lane and narrow (without shoulders). So whenever an animal, typically a bear, is spotted alongside one of the roads, traffic comes to a near standstill as people slow down or pull over to get a glimpse and/or a picture, blocking one or both sides of the road. “Bear Jams” they’re called, and they are a regular occurrence throughout Yellowstone. And they suck.

We experienced a few “bear jams” during our short visit (although the animal in question was usually an elk), but we actually got caught up in something a bit more sinister: a rolling “buffalo jam”. We found ourselves stuck in a several-miles long traffic jam, only to realize when we got to the front of it that it was caused by a slowly migrating herd of buffalo making its way down the road. Which, yes, is cool. But as a result it literally took us two and a half hours to go 12 miles. Just sitting there. In the car. The whole stinkin’ time.

So, yeah. The whole wildlife experience is very cool, except for the traffic part.

Beyond that, we found the facilities and campgrounds to be really nice and extremely well maintained. We actually got really lucky because we rolled into the park without a campsite reservation, hoping we could get a decent spot at one of the first-come-first-served campgrounds. We arrived early in the morning and managed to plop down on one of the best sites we think we could’ve ever found, right next to a river in the Norris Campground. Giddyup.

But unfortunately aside from that, there wasn’t too much good news to report. So bear with us as we go to the dark side for a minute…

Yellowstone: The Bad

Okay. We’ll admit it right off the bat. The crowds did us in.

We thought we could handle it all. The people, the traffic, the mayhem, the noise. But when push came to shove, we just couldn’t take it. And that’s the main reason we decided to leave after only one night, even though we had already pre-paid for two (and had ourselves a pretty bitchin’ campsite). We woke up that first morning and figured – rightfully so – that trying to spend another day in Yellowstone was an exercise in futility, and would only worsen our experience and further stain our opinion of the place. We just didn’t have enough time to wander off the main roads and away from the main attractions and the massive crowds to see what else the park had to offer (which we understand is a LOT), so we decided to cut our losses, get the heck out of Dodge, and hopefully come back to Yellowstone another time.

The traffic, even apart from the “bear jams” and “buffalo jams” was just plain crazy. In the span of just a few hours that afternoon (after we escaped the buffalo jam) we saw no fewer than three car accidents – which, judging by the way the cars were positioned, were no doubt caused by folks rubbernecking or flat-out stopping in the middle of the road in order to get a glimpse or a snapshot of some animal. And again, because the main roads through the park are only two lanes, these accidents would stop traffic for miles, forcing everyone to sit in their cars for upwards of 30 minutes to an hour, waiting and stewing in frustration knowing that every minute spent sitting there was another minute taken out of the natural Yellowstone experience.

The crowds clamoring for a shot of Old Faithful.

Then of course there were the crowds at Old Faithful and the park’s other major attractions. It was madness. And it sucked every ounce of serenity and awe out of what would otherwise exist in a place like this. In the heat of the moment, all we could think was that Yellowstone was nothing more than a glorified, overcrowded, drive-through nature-themed amusement park. And to some extent that’s still the way we feel. Only a return trip, at the proper time and for the proper length, will ever change that. We hope.

Yellowstone: The Ugly

The one and only thing we witnessed in Yellowstone worse than the crowds and traffic, was the flat-out unbelievable behavior of some of the park police. Again we were there for a very short time, but more than once we found ourselves on the outside of a situation looking in, and thinking: You’ve got to be kidding! Why would they act that way toward people?

Not to take away from the importance of their jobs. At all. Definitely not! Believe us we can only imagine how frustrating and downright miserable it must be to try to keep any sort of peace and order among hundreds of thousands of excited, wildlife-loving camera-happy tourists. No freakin’ way we’d want that job. But you can still do your job effectively and professionally, without wildly yelling and screaming bug-eyed and red-faced at people, embarrassing parents in front of their kids, and basically treating people like dirt. We know because we saw evidence of that, actually, just a few days later in Glacier National Park – where faced with many of the same circumstances, the Rangers were stern but respectful, informative and very, very professional.  And people without fail respected and responded to them positively.

We certainly don’t want to paint all the Yellowstone officers with that same brush – but come on guys, you don’t have to be completely shitty to people to get your point across. Really.

Bottom Line: Don’t Do What We Did.

So herein lies the lesson of our experience, plain and simple: if you can’t do crowds, don’t do Yellowstone in the summer. Period. For real. And certainly, certainly, certainly don’t try to do it in a couple of days.

Admittedly we did it all wrong. And we fully realize that for [most] of the bitching we’ve done about our short time there, we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves. We imagine that for folks with kids, or folks who don’t mind doing the tourist thing around lots and lots of other people, it would be a completely and totally different experience. Otherwise, we hope we’ll be able to save some folks like us from the frustration that we felt, and the time and money we spent.

Sadly, we’re not in much of a hurry to get back. We’re still kind of jaded by the whole experience. We will hopefully return to Yellowstone some day, but it’ll for dang sure be at a different time of year and for at least several days.

If there’s a silver lining to all of this – and there certainly is – it’s that leaving Yellowstone a day early meant we’d be able to spend an extra day up in Glacier. And as miserable as Yellowstone was for us, Glacier was just absolutely incredible. Tell you about that another time, if you’d like.

Alrighty then. Got any stories/tips about Yellowstone you’d be willing to share? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear ’em!

Cheers y’all! Safe travels…

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[UPDATE! April 15, 2020: Hear Nik and Dusty talk about their Yellowstone experience in episode six of the Two for the Road Podcast! Click here to listen in!]


  1. I really appreciate this information. We’ve begun planning a trip next summer (from Georgia) to the area including Yellowstone. We’ll be arriving there at the end of the first week of June. From what I understand, that’s before the huge crowds. We also plan to visit Teton as well. We have four kids and will be traveling via motorhome. I’m dreading the 4500 mile drive over three weeks, but willing to bear it. I’d appreciate any advice for the Tetons visit. I’ll be reading your accounts on the blog. Thanks again!
    John Richardson – PBandJAdventures.com

    • Thanks John! We actually visited the Tetons and Yellowstone in mid-to-late June, and Yellowstone was (clearly) pretty crowded by then. Can’t imagine what it must look like in late July and August! But again, I think if you allow yourself plenty of time to explore Yellowstone you’ll have a much better experience. And in any event, the kids WILL absolutely love it. Get ready to take lots and lots and lots of photos. 🙂 As far as the Tetons are concerned, we found the area much less congested (except for the town of Jackson), wide open and absolutely beautiful. If you can, be sure to take in the Jackson Rodeo because the kids especially will enjoy it, and it’s just such a cool western setting. The fishing’s great, the wildlife is amazing, and it was overall just so much more relaxing.
      Since you’re traveling by RV, I’d really encourage you to follow and get in touch with our friends Nikki and Jason Wynn (www.gonewiththewynns.com) who can absolutely tell you more about that aspect of it! (See Nikki’s comment below.)
      Cheers! Keep in touch.

  2. We spent 10 days in Yellowstone in early June. I think the experience would have been similar to yours had we been any later. In fact, the first 3-5 days were great but the last weekend before we left the crowds nearly doubled. While we loved Yellowstone (it’s so weirdly cool) we were ready to get out of there before the crowds came. Like you guys we LOVED the Tetons (and Glacier). 🙂

    • Nikki Green

      Thanks for the comment Jenn. Glad to hear you guys got there in time and had a great trip. We’ll definitely try again when the crowds are a tad smaller. I’m sure the experience is quite different! The Tetons and Glacier were amazing and we’re super excited we got to experience them. That part of the world is simply gorgeous and we can’t wait to go back! Cheers!

    • Trixie Lettieri

      Although 6 years later, in 2019, my son and I had just spent a gorgeous week in Glacier… after seeing the anticlimactic ole Faithful, with the timed explosion and the hoards who had gathered behind us as we had waited 45 min, thinking.. “wow, not so many people” and not knowing there was a notification in the lodge saying when to expect the big blow… we saw it, looked at each other and said “That’s it?” We stayed at the rv park at the motel in town, got up early and drove to the obligatory sites, got a parking spot, made my son breakfast and then saw things like the grand prismatic etc… but always just went back to the rv spot, rested, then had a wonderful time each night seeing a play at the little playhouse in town. We saw all three shows that summer and two of them twice.. infact we wanted to see one of them again so much that we extended our stay. By far these little plays were the highlight of our trip. We did though donate to the visitor center /museum in town, and got a brick with our names and a personal quote, which is why we are going back there right now… whether we stay in town or not, we want to see our brick. It was laid on the grounds in front of the museum in west Yellowstone. We were embarrassed to say we were unimpressed with Yellowstone… we didn’t even see many animals, but to be honest we didn’t venture out in the evening when I heard they were more prevalent… we did enough of the main attractions to say we did them, but I felt more like I was witnessing the end of the world and these last tourists, us included, were the only ones left on earth … wandering aimlessly, zombie like from natural wonder to natural wonder… I didn’t read your post before, but I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t experience the same myself… we went the end of August, just after school started… fairly light crowds as I was told… and the Grand Tetons (that we stayed in the park) was just beautiful… we are probably not going into the park this year… masks or no masks, we just want to see our brick in the ground!

      • Thank you so much for sending this! We LOVE the story about the brick! Sounds like we had the same sort of reaction about Yellowstone which is a bummer… We’ve caught a fair amount of flak from this post, but we’re just being honest about our experience. And hopefully helping other folks see how to avoid our mistakes. lol Please let us know how your trip went! And safe travels. Y’all stay safe and healthy out there! 🙂

        • i just read this and we were planning to go in the first week of june, after memorial weekend. Now I’m nervous about it! I mostly care about doing some hikes and seeing some bison as they are my favorite animals but not sure if it’s going to be as crowd infested as when you visited!

          • Hello! Oh gosh, we sure don’t want to make you nervous. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as it was when we went, but folks are sure wanting to get out and about this summer. There are some great resources on this blog post. SO many good suggestions on how to beat the crowd. I’d highly recommend browsing through the comments. You WILL see bison! Lots of bison. And hopefully if you follow some of the guidance from other folks on this thread, you’ll have a GREAT time! Please keep us posted! Safe travels! 🙂

  3. We are in the planning stages of a grand adventure and will definitely hit Yellowstone Park. After reading your blog we will not be visiting in the summer, but when do you think would be a good month?

    • Nikki Green

      Hi Liza. From the little research I’ve done, it looks like the best times to go are late May and sometime after Labor Day (if we’re talking about crowds that is). We know there are so many amazing things to see in the park. But unless you’re really patient and have lots of time, Summer just isn’t a good time (in our opinion). We’d absolutely love to go back when the crowds aren’t so bad. We just know the entire experience would be completely different. Be sure to let us know how your trip goes! Cheers 🙂

  4. Diane McCleskey

    We went to Yellowstone in Sept. a few years ago and the crowds were not bad then at all. Really enjoyed it and would love to go back sometime. Hope you guys get to have an awesome Yellowstone experience someday.

    • Thanks for the comment Diane! Glad you guys enjoyed Yellowstone. And we definitely want to go back sometime when it’s not so crazy. September sounds nice!

  5. All my fears are coming true reading this…thank you. LOVE wild life, LOVE nature. Won’t do crowds. Shut the gate people, after a reasonable amount of two leggeds are there.

    • We’d love to try it again during a different time of year. We know it’s beautiful. We know the wildlife is spectacular (from a distance of course). We just can’t do crowds 🙁 We hope you get to experience it without all of the madness one day!

  6. I loved reading this. It just confirmed what we already thought about including Yellowstone in our trip next summer. You guys are funny, too!

    • Hi Tim! So glad you enjoyed the post. Hated to write negative things about Yellowstone, but gotta be real. We’d love to try again (in a different month of course), because we’ve heard and read GREAT things about Yellowstone. We’d love to be able to do a follow-up post on how wonderful it is in the spring or fall. Maybe we’ll get that chance soon. Hope you guys have a fantastic trip this summer – wherever the road takes you! Cheers!

      • Thanks for the reply, Nikki! Like you, we hate crowds. The majority of our trip will be tons of back roads in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, so I imagine that a stressful visit to Yellowstone and the crowds may not fit into our agenda. I look forward to reading many of your other entries.

  7. Chris VanderHart

    The one & only time I’ve visited Yellowstone was when I was on a ski trip with about 15 skiers & patrollers. We took a guided snow cat bus from West Yellostone and it was fabulous in every way. Tour guide shared so much information & entertaining stories. The buffalo herd surrounded the bus; we saw elk, wolves, bald eagles, deer, but no bear. We could walk and view the attractions without huge crowds. Loved every minute–a Winter trip is the way to go.

  8. Diane McCleskey

    I would like to hear about Glacier.

    • We loved, loved, loved Glacier! But a lot of that could be because everyone else was in Yellowstone. 🙂 It wasn’t crowded at all and you could truly enjoy and appreciate the scenery and each animal sighting. It was just an incredible experience for us. And after reading so many great posts about Yellowstone, we’ve decided it must all have to do with timing. We know we would’ve enjoyed Yellowstone so much more if it hadn’t been so crowded. We’re currently working on a post for Glacier and hope to have it up sometime soon. Thanks Diane!

  9. We camped there the 1st part of Sept. 2016. It wasn’t bad then but heard about the crowds in the summer. Didn’t sound fun. There is a y mile one way dirt road we took early evening. It was very quiet. We had a bear walk up the road rite in front of our car, saw a female moose, and a red fox! Saw multiple bears other areas of the park, on the north side. Guess they were fattening up,for winter.,we downloaded an ap called gypsy guide. It was free but u would want to down load it before u go as it takes a while. Don’t need signal to run it runs off your gps on your phone. As u drive around the park it narrates what is coming up and gives u info on it. We found it very interesting and we saw some things we mite have missed if we hadn’t had it. We stayed 7 days I think, so had plenty of time to enjoy. We had a great experience. I would definitely pick off season, which since we no longer have children at home we prefer no matter where we go to avoid crowds.

    • Thanks for all of your wonderful advice! Sounds like you guys definitely did Yellowstone the right way! Too cool! We’ve got to schedule a return trip soon and do it the right way ourselves! So glad you guys had such a fantastic trip and thanks for reaching out! Cheers!

  10. Laura Nicolas & Christophe Poch

    Hello Nikki, grettings from Tahiti, we are a family of 4 who love hikking and wildlife spotting and were planning a trip to Yellowstone for the last weel of june; but after reading your blog we are thinking about travelling somewhere else :-)… could you give us your advice… do you thing that the last week of June could be considered as peak season, or the crowds arrive in July? Thank you! (we have visited many countries the way you do, we may have some good advices for your future trips, feel free to ask)

    • Hello! Great to hear from you! Oh gosh, we certainly hate to say don’t go to Yellowstone (because we definitely didn’t do it the right way), but if you’re not a fan of crowds and long waits, I would say June-August just isn’t the best time to go. Since writing this post, we’ve gotten lots of good feedback from people who say they planned it out right, spent enough time, stayed off of the main roads, and still had a great time during the summer. So it definitely depends on researching those things ahead of time. We’ll certainly do that next time we go, but we still wouldn’t go again in the summer months. We would highly recommend Glacier National Park (we left Yellowstone and went to Glacier) especially to hikers. Great trails, absolutely beautiful scenery, wildlife, and great camping too. We stayed at Many Glacier and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Every turn on the ‘Going to the Sun’ road brought another breathtaking view. We also really enjoyed Yosemite National Park (although we didn’t go during the summer months). It was beautiful and offered great hiking opportunities as well. Again, I don’t want to say ‘Don’t go to Yellowstone’, but I do think it’s important to research ahead of time if you decide to go. Please keep us updated! We hope you have a lovely trip! Do you guys live in Tahiti?

  11. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I worked in Yellowstone Park in 1980 at the Old Faithful Lodge. Yes, loads of tourists asking, “When is Old Faithful going off?” If you hike for 10 minutes on a trail, you will see almost no tourists. Early summer could be bad weather. Maybe late summer would be nice or early fall. I’m like you, I hate crowds. Disneyland is my idea of hell. I hope you have a better experience next time. I’ve heard snowmobiling in Yellowstone in the winter is wonderful.

    • Hi Diane! Thanks so much for the feedback. We definitely did Yellowstone the wrong way, and would love to try again. We’ve heard WONDERFUL things about snowmobiling in the winter. That sounds WAY more our speed! We’ve got to get back up there and do it right! Hopefully sooner than later! Cheers! 😉

    • Paul Noland

      Hi Diane, I was backpacking through Yellowstone in 1979 &1980 for a few weeks and visited the Bear pit at old faithful lodge, met a very nice employee June was her name, On her days off we went on a lot of almost unknow trails, was very sad to leave. Went back again in 1998 a few years after the fire and once more in 2016 didn’t see made backpacker’s.

    • Hi Diane, I spent several weeks in backpacking around Yellowstone in the summer of 1979 and 1980, met some great people who worked at the “Bear pit” the most member able was June, I’ve been back three more times since than the last in 2016, You are right walk 10 mins on any trail and most of the tourists are gone.

  12. Visited tetons and yellowstone this past oct. 2016. Wonderful weather. Hardly any crowds other than at Old Faithful. Rare traffic jams. Many places closed in the park but do not regret any of the trip. Saw multiple wildlife. Saw places so breathtaking you never want to leave.No bad experience here. I am planning late june trip now. Expecting large crowds but I am just going with good expectations, and thankful God is blessing me with a 2nd trip. And time with my family. Alot to see and do.God bless and safe travels.K.Wise

    • SO glad to hear you had a wonderful experience! It is such a beautiful spot in the world. We just definitely did it all wrong! We will certainly give it another shot, just not in the summer months. Crowds and traffic jams are just not our thing. But we sure hope you guys have another wonderful experience in June! Thanks for reaching out! And safe travels to you too!!

  13. We have been to Yellowstone 3 times (currently planning our 4th visit) and have had absolutely amazing experiences each time. We knew that we would not be able to handle the crowds of summer so we have been at the end of March, beginning of May and end of August/beginning of September. Each trip afforded us different but wonderful experiences. We generally had good weather on all of the trips and 1 snow day per trip which made for great photography! The bison calves are born in early May and are just adorable. One of the things to keep in mind when planning a shoulder season trip are spring road opening and fall road closing schedules. We always allow 7-10 days in the park each trip and, since our main focus is wildlife photography, we spend a lot of our time in the Lamar and Hayden Valleys.

    I can understand why you had such a bad experience in Yellowstone in the peak of summer but I hope you will go back in the spring or fall and give it another try.

    • We definitely will make another trip to Yellowstone! We know we absolutely did it the wrong way… It’s so great to hear you had such wonderful experiences each time you went. And thank you so much for your suggestions. I think the best thing to come from this post is all of the wonderful suggestions and tips. It will most certainly help make our next trip SO much better! Thanks for reaching out! And safe travels. 😉

    • Laura Alward

      Leann, we’re planning a trip late August, early September in a Motorhome. Could you please send me any tips and info? I could reach you personally if you’re able to share and I’ll provide you my email.

  14. We live north of the park about 50 miles and avoid it June-August. Really, it’s even crowded in September these days. But, there are places you can get away from the crowds — even in summer– you just have to be willing to walk a little. And be content with exploring part of the park. Like you said, it’s pretty big and the driving is miserable. If you can park yourself in the north end of the park, or around Lake, and really explore those areas, you can have a great time. Or come in winter and ski and snowshoe and soak in the Boiling River! Hope you give it another shot some time.

    • We will definitely give it another shot! How could we not? We hear too many wonderful things about it! Thanks so much for the suggestions! We’ll certainly do it the right way next time after all of the great suggestions and advice we’ve received! Cheers!

  15. Michelle

    Hi Nikki, I live in Montana as well, and I can sympathize with your experience. Yellowstone is a complete nightmare in the summer, and for whatever reason, most people visiting seem o.k. with a million peeps around. I think they come from crowded places in the world and just don’t know anything different. We visit every year in October, and it’s magnificent. Maybe try it again in the fall. We live 10 minutes outside of Glacier national park, and I’m afraid to say that it is becoming more and more like Yellowstone. If you get just one mile off the beaten track though, it is truly heaven on earth. I feel like there are just more people in the world, and we are not creating more Yellowstone or Glacier parks. Unfortunately I don’t see it getting better…if you get up to glacier again someday, let me know, I can tell you about some secrets up here that will blow you away, and like I said, just off the beaten path. Good luck on your travels, and I LOVED your honesty and writing style. If your blog helps just a few people avoid the misery of Yellowstone in June, July, and August, then you did a grest job! Michelle

    • Hey Michelle! Thanks so much for the comment! We absolutely LOVED our time in Glacier! What a spectacular place to live so close to. We’re super jealous! If we get back to that area, we will certainly hit you up because we can’t even imagine it being any better than it was! We SO appreciate your kind words and confirmation about Yellowstone. It was a bummer to experience the park the way we did, but we accept responsibility for the poor planning and timing. We sure hope to return one day, and October sounds like the perfect time for us! Thanks again for reaching out and for the great suggestions! Cheers! 😉

    • Michelle, we are headed to Glacier the end of July for a couple days. Planning on staying in Kilispell. Then taking one day just for the park. On the morning of the third day, headed back thru the park on our way east. Any suggestions on what to see this trip? We are avid photographers and do some hiking. I understand that one full day is short but we will probably come back another next year (we live in Wa.) Thanks in advance for the recommendations.

    • I would love to hear about your GNP secrets. I plan to get up there before I got too old. So plan on a visit within the summer. What do you suggest? I heard it was best to go with a guide. I am a solo hiker but will heed that warning and not go it alone.

  16. Thank you SO much – I was trying to decide whether to go to Yellowstone next week or to wait till September – you made it a very easy decision and saved me some heartache!

    • Hey Judy! Yeah. We’d hate to tell anybody NOT to go to Yellowstone if they have the opportunity. 🙂 But we do hear from many people that September is a glorious month there! So definitely let us know how it goes! Cheers!

  17. I laughed out loud reading this. We do not like crowds either but will be in Jackson for a wedding, so the timing is out of our hands. As always, you just make the most of it!

    • For sure! We were in the area on business, so the timing couldn’t be helped. We’d love to go back to Yellowstone again in a different season. We were in the Jackson Hole area filming an episode for the TV show last winter and absolutely LOVED it! Wish we could’ve gone over then, but we were just too busy! Next time. Hope you guys have a fantastic time. If you have a chance, read through some of the comments on this post. Lots of great advice! Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

  18. Let me paint the scene: You hear about a famous attraction at the park. You drive ~1 million hours thru pine trees and brake lights. Finally, it’s time – time to wait in line another hour on a needlessly thin sidewalk in 100 degree heat, with pushy, oblivious tourists shoving past and posing for selfies every 0.2 seconds.

    Finally, you see the attraction. Another. Effing. Hot. Spring. Whoopty damn doo. Looks eerily like the 3 previous hot springs you endured pure hell to take a 2 second look at while tourists attempted to stampede your small children to death.

    We left Old Faithful (basically, a large fountain, very far away, with 150,000 people standing around it) drove another 45 minutes through pine trees and monotony, and never looked back.
    Hate is not a strong enough word. I question the sanity of those who like it. People say you “need more days to explore.” Explore what?? You can’t get anywhere! Are the extra days to account for the extra time needed due to the intolerable congestion? I feel like 30 mins was enough awfulness to last me a lifetime. I can’t imagine seeing 10 more identical geysers and springs would suddenly make 5 more days of hell worthwhile. I don’t get it.

    • LOL We feel your pain Anthony! Pretty much describes our Yellowstone experience as well! Although we DO hear that in certain times of year, outside the busy summer tourist season, that the experience is entirely different. We’re looking forward to going back during one of those times to see if that’s indeed true. And hopefully it is! Thanks for your comment!

    • Betty Chrisman

      Thanks for your comments! I can’t stop laughing….We live in Oklahoma and are planning on meeting some friends at Driggs, Idaho(staying there because it was so much cheaper) and seeing Grand Teton and Yellowstone on Sept. 10th, 2020….I had already told my husband it won’t take long for me to tire of Yellowstone so let’s plan on spending more time in GTNP…..I prefer trees and mountains to sand, steam…anytime!! So you just confirmed kind of what I had already thought before we even get there. After picking up our maps of both of the parks at AAA yesterday and seeing the enormity of it all we decided we probably needed to spend more time than 5 days and were going to stay up by the East Entrance for an additional 2-3 days but now I’m not so sure that is a good idea. I think I need to do some more research and rethink this plan…We love to fish & hike so I guess there are limitless options for that. My husband is not a patient man and the thought of us being stuck in a traffic, at any time for 45 min to an hour, would not be a good thing! I will give him the heads up on all of this and maybe we can find some roads less traveled while seeing Yellowstone….Thanks, Betty

  19. yep. this taught me and no, I won’t go in August when I was planning too and yes I’ll go in Sept. Not a crowd person

    • Yep. That’s probably a good plan! We hear September in the park is a very different story! Let us know how it goes!

  20. Trena McMaster

    This was all interesting reading for sure and I thank you all…We are planning our first trip to the Yellowstone/Teton area the last week of August + first week of September, 2018. We’ve been struggling trying to narrow down our agenda. What is there to see? What should we not miss? Where do we stay? Do we rent a cabin and drive each day to a destination? Should we rent an RV and see where it takes us? Will the roads be too bad to maneuver an RV or will it be difficult trying to find places to stay or pull over in the RV?
    We wanted to head North after a few days and see what Montana is like and after reading this, we are thinking of incorporating a trip to Glacier. We have 2 full weeks to try and squeeze some incredible stuff into our trip. We want to go horseback riding for a day. Also thought (weather permitting) that we could rent some kayaks for a day. Again, just not sure about the crowds and weather conditions the last week of August and first week of September. We weren’t sure where we were going to actually start our trip. Would there be a better location to start our trip (what City to fly into and rent a car) and go from there?
    There are so many options and I’ve been reading about other peoples trip experiences for weeks and still can’t narrow down a timeline of what to do/where to go/rental or RV.
    Excited but frustrated first timer to head anywhere West

    • Thanks so much for reaching out Trena! We hear September is a great time to visit Yellowstone, so you should have a much better experience than we did! We’ve been to the Jackson area a couple of times now and absolutely love it! On our latest trip during the winter, we flew into the Jackson Hole airport and rented a car. We stayed a few nights outside of Jackson at the Heart Six Guest Ranch. It was our second time there and we thoroughly enjoy staying there! They offer trail rides, float trips, fly fishing, snowmobiling, and personalized tours. They have a great little breakfast and lunch spot and they serve great food in the lodge as well. The folks are super friendly and it’s just a beautiful place with beautiful scenery as the Tetons are just a few miles away. Jackson is a great town and has a lot to offer. We stayed at the Wyoming Inn in town and had a great stay there. We did a wildlife safari with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris that knocked our socks off. We saw moose, elk, foxes, deer, bald eagles, and a pack of wolves. All just very close to the town of Jackson. Highly recommend! And there’s just SO much to see in Yellowstone. And because you’re going in September, you should see all sorts of wildlife without all the madness. We would also really recommend spending some time in Glacier. It is absolutely beautiful! And the Going to the Sun Road will blow your mind. It’s just spectacular beauty at every turn! Just be sure to check their website to make sure the road is open – I don’t think you’ll have any problems in September. We haven’t rented an RV in that area, so can’t really offer any suggestions there. But there’s definitely not a shortage of places to stay in the area. 🙂 We also haven’t done any kayaking in the area, but hear it’s fantastic and would love to add that to the list for next time! Hope you guys have a great time! Keep us posted. We’d love to hear how the trip goes! 😉

    • Judy Decker

      Trena McMaster, how was your trip? We are planning on going the end of August, beginning of September as well. So, am wondering about the crowds you encountered and if you have any advice.

    • Betty Chrisman

      Hi Trena! We are getting ready to make that same trip but will only be there for about 8 days. We are driving from Oklahoma and are staying at Driggs, Idaho because it was less expensive. What did you all end up doing? Would sure love to hear what you would recommend to do after already making the trip. What your thoughts re Yellowstone? Please let me know. Thanks, Betty

  21. Try mid-May next time. We were just there (Yellowstone and Grand Tetons) this year in May and there were absolutely no crowds at all. Of course, downside, it snowed on us twice and one section of road wasn’t even opened because of snow. But it was wonderful!!

    • They sure had a crazy winter this year!! We were actually back in the area in February! Absolutely beautiful!! Didn’t make it to Yellowstone on that trip though. Still gotta check it out during the off season for sure! So glad to hear you had a great experience!

  22. What about visiting the week of Memorial day holiday? I’ve heard the weather can be iffy but maybe the crowds are less? I am trying to plan a trip for next summer but can’t decide when we should go??? Any tips/advice would be great.

    • Gosh, I wish we knew for sure ourselves. We’ve got some really great feedback on this post, so you might read some of the other comments. Many folks on this thread have gone at different times and had amazing adventures! We hope to do that ourselves one day. Keep us posted on your trip! And we hope you have a FANTASTIC time!

  23. We stumbled onto your show last night, while recovering from our latest adventure, and love it. Frequent visitors to Yellowstone(it’s our backyard) we sympathize with and apologize for your experience. The park rangers rue the fact that the campaign “Find Your Park” resulted in this spectacular mess and want the next campaign to be “Find Another Park.” Our favorite times in the park are shoulder seasons, especially late late fall when the hoar frost is thick, the elk are bugling, and only the tough are camping. Come again—- bring a big coat— and leave with a new love of the land. – Karen

    • Thanks so much for watching the show! Where was your last adventure? We will definitely visit Yellowstone again, as we know we absolutely did it all wrong. I love your last sentence and that sounds like one heck of a good idea!! Thanks for reaching out and thanks so much for the advice!

  24. Some suggestions that worked very well for us: spring for hotel rooms or cottages, many of which do not have en suite bathrooms and are therefore more affordable. What you get in return is that a lot of crush clears out by late afternoon whey the tours and people coming up from Jackson etc, leave for the night. Also, go in June or early July when there is maximum daylight. Any time the kids are in school is better, too. Camping is cheap and great but when time is of the essence it can become a burden.

    • Hey Meredith! Thanks so much for reaching out! And thank you for the great suggestions. This thread has sort of become an advice post for all! We so appreciate all of the great feedback! After reading everyone’s suggestions, we’ll most definitely do it right next time! Hopefully others will as well. Thank you! 😉

  25. Yikes, Enjoyed reading about your good and bad experiences with Yellowstone, very informative. I am fully expecting traffic but as to how much well who knows. Of all things we are going to be heading through there in summer of 2018 on our way to Sturgis Bike Week. The plan is to camp in the KOA 6 miles outside of the West gate, then strike camp at first light, so about 5am, and try and avoid as much traffic as possible, and make the stop at Old Faithful and then ride through around the lake to the East Side gate. Hoping that leaving early early morning we will be able to take in some of the scenery and take some pictures without the crowds and traffic. although I am fully expecting to run into some kind of traffic at some time the only question is how much traffic we will be hitting.

    • Hey Derek! Thanks for reaching out. We think striking out at first light is a great idea – we definitely didn’t do that. We hear there are just some magnificent hikes all through the park and great ways to get off the beaten path. We certainly regret not spending more time researching those things before we got there. We hope to go again someday and do it right. We’d love to hear how your experience goes, so please let us know. This thread has been really cool to read, because so many people have posted their suggestions. We feel like we’ll be much better the second go around! Cheers!

    • We camp in the park all summer, but avoid the time around the Sturgis rally due to the Harley noise. Inevitablely, a couple of incredibly loud bikers come through the park in the early morning every day, waking up a thousand sleeping people in Madison campground (located next to the road coming from West Yellowstone). There are noise level restrictions in the park, but they are not enforced. It completely ruins the experience for everyone else in the park. I wish there was a way for the bikers to muffle their machines when the travel through the park boundaries. That way both bikers and non-bikers could enjoy the park together. What is kinda funny are all the people staring at the bikers. The bikers don’t realize they are getting a collective stink eye. : -)

      • Lol. We can only imagine how loud that can be! So glad you enjoy camping during the summer months. I’m sure you have all sorts of great recommendations on how to escape the crowds and see the park! Thanks for reaching out!

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience ! Where are you guys camping at? looks very peaceful 🙂 Will A Travel Trailer Fit? hehe.

    • Thank you George! And we actually stayed at the Norris Campground. Had a great spot! Would definitely recommend it. Just when it ain’t so dang busy! LOL Cheers!

  27. What a great post! Sometimes some negativity is a good reality check. We’re planning a trip to Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Theodore Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain national parks starting in late May. I’ve been a little fearful of the weather but after reading all the comments I’d rather risk snow and road closures than all those crazy crowds. We’re already having issues with hotels being full! When we did Utah’s national parks everything was great until we hit Bryce – snow and road closures but what a beautiful experience. I’m liking the sounds of that snow cat bus in Yellowstone.

    • Hey Kay! Thanks so much! And yeah, we hated to be a downer about the whole experience, but we felt we had to be honest! But we also hear that late May isn’t a bad time at all to visit Yellowstone. That’s just right there before it gets super, super busy. So good luck! We hope y’all have a great time! And tell us how it went!

  28. Fun — and informative — article. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Cheers and hope your travels since have been more pleasant!

    • Thank you Brian. Hated to be a downer, but it just was what it was. And we definitely can admit that a lot of that was our own fault. We have had some amazing experiences around the world since then – thank you! And we will certainly give Yellowstone another chance down the road – just not in summertime. Cheers!

  29. Aly in GA

    Forewarned is forearmed, I suppose. 🙁

    Our oldest is leaving for college in August, so this will likely be our last family road trip. We live in Georgia, and my husband’s family lives in Manitoba. Since our boys stopped being “carry-on luggage,” we’ve driven the 1,450 miles up and back. Even with gas, food, and hotels, driving comes out cheaper than flying. Our return trips are always our wandering adventures – showing our boys the country. This year we want to hit more western states. We hope to hit Yellowstone, Grand Teton/Jackson, Salt Lake City, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Denver and then home.

    It’s difficult to be so tantalizingly close and NOT visit, but *the crowds*! Ugh. I love all the feedback I’ve gleaned from the comments. We’re going to take many deep breaths and dive in to the chaos. Wish us luck!

    • Oh my gosh! How wonderful! Creating great memories your whole family will
      always cherish. Love. Love. Love it!

      Just do it! You can always make a mad dash and head to the next place if
      needed. But we’re with ya. If you’re that close, you really should go check
      it out. We LOVE the Tetons, Jackson, and the whole area really. It’s just SO
      beautiful. Glacier is also one of our all time favorite spots. The “Going to
      the Sun” road is just absolutely breathtaking.

      By reading the comments we’re sure you’ve seen that some folks have great
      luck during the same time, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you guys.
      Please come back to the blog and let us know how your trip was. We know
      people would be really interested to hear.

      Good luck and safe travels! Thanks so much for reaching out! And if you
      happen to get the Create TV channel in your neck of the woods, be sure to
      check out our travel show Two for the Road!

  30. We are in our hotel in West Yellowstone as I type this. After 2 hours in a traffic jam we turned around and came back out of the park having seen nothing. We only wish we had found your blog before we booked 4 nights in West Yellowstone. Fortunately we visited Yellowstone 18 years ago and it couldn’t have been more different. You are 100% correct in everything you say. To be honest I can’t wait to get back to the peace and quiet of Scotland.

    • Oh my gosh, Dave! Sorry you had the same experience we did. It’s definitely gotten a little too popular for its own good we’re afraid. We hope to return one day when it’s not so busy. We hear great things about going in the fall so maybe one day… And Scotland is definitely on our list! We’re dying to get over there and explore! Thanks so much for reaching out. Safe travels home!

    • Oh No. As I’ve been reading through all of this, I’ve thought to myself “it can’t always be that bad”. My first visit was in 1988 (during the fires, but we were always one day ahead of them. We honestly didn’t know the fires were occurring the first few days until we read about it in a newspaper while we were in the park!). My 2nd visit was in 2000 (18 years ago, like you). I remember it being more crowded then, but thought we were trying to do and see too much in too short of a time. If it is worse than that, UGH. I wanted to take my fiancé there in 2019, but that would be a disaster. We love Denali and go almost every summer. That’s plenty crowd for us and you can’t even drive in yourself, you have to be on a bus.

      I guess we will see. Maybe we can go in late September and it won’t be so bad (but cold..).

      • Hey Amy! Thanks for writing! And yeah, it was just a madhouse when we were there. Crazy! But we too are looking to get back someday, definitely in September/October or in the spring. If you go let us know how it was! Lots of folks would appreciate it! Cheers!

    • We are planning a RV trip in 2020 to YS. Looks like the end of May is already too crowed!

      • Hey Austin! From what we hear, late May is much better than smack dab in the middle of summer. Hope you have a great time! This thread has become a great resource so be sure to check out other comments for great suggestions! Cheers!

  31. Micki Lemke

    My son and I just returned from Yellowstone. I made sure we visited before the Memorial weekend. We didn’t have any issues and the park was beautiful with ever changing weather and different micro-climates due to the elevation changes. There is 5 miles of road construction between Norris and Old Faithful area, which caused a delay of 30 mins and a rough road to travel (SUV for sure). We spent 6 days and traveled 500 miles in total. We would go into the park after 1pm and that helped with avoiding some of the crowds (nothing like the summer months). A few bear or elk jams noted, but it took about 5-10 minuted to get through…park rangers were very nice and attempted to get people moving. We stayed in Gardiner, MT with a Home Away family in a 800 sq ft apt. located under their home and only 5 mins from the North entrance. It was perfect and the people were so nice. Bathroom facilities in the popular areas can be dirty so we tried to use the less popular areas (flush toilets are few and far between) and I bring disinfecting wipes. The down side that I experienced, is the trash that people threw off the boardwalks or onto the trails, people stepping off the boardwalks into the sensitive areas (plenty of signs and the park provides a paper in many languages explaining the rules), and some people yelling at one another even though they are standing right next to one another(WTH?)… I spoke up, but no one understood me! As long as you hike away from everyone at the popular areas then it is a good experience and you can see so much more. It ranged from 39 degrees to 74 degrees. Rain, thunder, and lightening at times then it would clear again. It is an amazing place to us and we will never forget the incredible experience. I suggest May travel before the holiday and again in the Fall, late Sept and early Oct.

    • Hey Micki! Thank you so much for reaching out and thank you for your trip report! It has been really great to read everyone’s comments on how to and how NOT to do Yellowstone. We think it’s been a great resource for folks and we sure appreciate it! We’re dying to get back and do it the right way ourselves. So glad to hear you guys had a such a great time!

      • Nikki, looks like the road from W Yellowstone into the park is closed in Nov- we will be there after Thanksgiving and staying a week. Do you know where there is to do there just before the snowmobile season starts? We already have a place there in W. Yellowstone.

        • Hi Rich! We would highly recommend Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris https://jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com/ if you’re planning on going into Jackson Hole. And I’m sure the wildlife in the park itself is incredible in the winter with fewer crowds. As far as winter activities in Yellowstone, we’ve never been in the winter so wouldn’t really know what to recommend. Maybe others on this thread could better answer that question. Let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear all about it! Cheers!

    • When were you therein May? The weather sounded ok but it was already crowed?

  32. Levis E Shiver

    We are from the deep south and several years ago my son and I planned a winter trip into Yellowstone among several other areas in the Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada and Utah areas. Had never been to that part of the country but we visited in mid January and took a full day snow mobile trip into the park. Never seen such a wonderland in my life. The elk and bison come down from the mountains and can be seen on a regular basis. Few people are in the park at this time of year and if it were not for the road markers you would not realize roads even exist. Jackson Hole was recommended to us and we spent part of the next day there, visiting not only the town but the elk reserve out of town. Have been back several times and even though I have thin blood, we have never failed to enjoy our trips to Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Jackson in the winter. In fact my son got so into it he bought a second home near Jackson. As you have found the tourist months are not the best time to visit.

    • That all sounds lovely! We have definitely got to go back to Yellowstone during that time of year. We have been back to the Tetons and to Jackson Hole during the winter since this visit and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Just didn’t have enough time to visit Yellowstone again then. We’ll make it happen though! We’re sure your son loves having a second home in the area. It is just SO beautiful during winter and summer in our opinion. And we just love Jackson Hole! Such a great spot! Thanks so much for leaving your feedback. This thread has been so wonderful to watch and learn from. Cheers! And happy traveling!

  33. Frank Lee

    Hi there! Just wonder what would be like visiting Yellowstone on the third week of September like? I am sure is definitely less crowded.
    I live in the South and do not have much experience driving in snowy conditions.
    Also…Will there be more or less the same amount of wildlife to be seen as compared to earlier months.

    • Hey Frank! We’re clearly not the best people to answer that, since we’ve only been in the summer. But we hear fall is beautiful! Maybe someone else can chime in. Thanks!

  34. Going to try to start a travel blog- any suggestions?

    • Oh my gosh. You know, we sort of started our blog years ago just to keep our family and friends updated on our whereabouts. Once we started doing the show on PBS and Create, the blog sort of follows the TV show now. So, we really don’t make money off of our blog and we don’t run it like a typical travel blog. We do attend TBEX each year though, which is the largest travel bloggers convention in the world. It’s a great place to learn all about travel blogging, and they usually have one in North America, Asia, and Europe so you can pick where you’d like to go! We’d highly recommend going to learn some of the tricks of the trade. Keep us updated and thanks for reaching out!

  35. Jutta Annweiler

    Hi- we just spent 3 days in Yellowstone, traffic was mad, congestions over congestions, noise, noise, noise and just too many cars and people. Huge RVs, overflowing parking on the parking places, no nature feeling. We also tried to be there early in the morning, but the park is filling up quickly, so by 10.30h the crowds are there. I felt this park is on the verge of a collapse and I would never go back. When I read comments on how wonderful snowmobiling is, I keep thinking why would humans also disturb wildlife in the winter months? We did not get the experience of quietness, nowhere we went. Maybe this park needs access restrictions to make it a better place.

    • Oh my gosh! So sorry to hear that, but sounds like it was pretty much like our experience. Summer in Yellowstone is just too much. We truly felt like we were in line for an amusement ride the entire time we were there. Not fun! We do hear fall is a good time to visit (and we will probably do that sometime just to see), but when you’re fresh off of a summer trip there, that’s certainly the last thing you’re thinking about. Again, sorry to hear you had the same experience we did…

  36. Went to yellowstone in middle of september.This was the best trip of my life.We spent 9 days in yellowstone and tetons.I saw so much beauty there I didnt want to leave.Every bend in the road brought another amazing view.There just isnt any way to not enjoy this place unless you go in summer.September is an awesome time to go to avoid the crowds.I cant wait to get back.

    • SO glad to hear that, Sean. We’ve sure heard mixed stories after our visit, but one thing seems to ring true and that is definitely when you visit. We’ve decided fall must be a terrific time to go, and we plan to try again around that time one day. We’d sure love to update this entry ourselves. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a beautiful area! Glad to hear you had such a great time!

  37. I took my daughter to yellowstone from June 1-3 this year. Amazing adventure all roads had just opened up from winter crowds were very light walked right up to Ole Faithful and set on bench 10 minutes before eruption. Went in July as a kid and remember exactly what you were talking about hours of sitting in a car waiting for someone to take a picture of their 1000th buffalo. I will make another trip in the winter but if i ever plan another summer trip would go first of June again only draw back if you are a fisherman rivers were running to fast to fish safely and the trout lakes had stern bear warning as the grizzly bears were still in the low lands. Would recommend spending extra money to stay very close if not in the park as 80 mile drive from Debois everyday was tiring

    • Great tips. Thank you so much Scott! And yes when we go back we’ll definitely go outside of the summer rush to avoid all that craziness. Ugh. Cheers! Glad y’all had a great trip!!

  38. Jeremy S.

    Zion Nat’l Park in Southern Utah and Arches Nat’l Park in Eastern Utah are the same way. Avoid them during summer months. They are overrun with crowds. You’ll spend all of your time stuck in traffic, looking for parking, and hiking shoulder to shoulder with strangers.

    • Oh, Jeremy! High on our bucket list! Thank you very much for the heads up. That would not be our scene at all! When do you recommend going?

  39. Just spent 3 days at Yellowstone. Aug. 2,3 and 4. Had a great time. Traffic was heavy but not horrendous. We saw elk, bear,eagles,bison, wolf, etc. but not TONS of it. The geysers, waterfalls and the springs were amazing. The scenery was breathtaking. The rangers were friendly and knowledgeable. We saw no traffic accidents and almost no park police and certainly no one in any official capacity being aggressive or rude to anyone.
    There were thousands of tourists from foreign countries who do not behave as we do. I am sure they think the same of us when we visit them!
    There were a few spots we didn’t visit just because of the crowds but if you go into the Park EARLY in the morning it is much better.
    We had a marvelous time.

    • This is all great to hear, Jackie! We’re so glad you guys had a wonderful time. We sure hope to have the same type of experience sometime down the road. Thank you for your suggestions, as this thread has certainly become a great resource. We sure appreciate your contribution!

  40. Just got back from Yellowstone and miss it. We only got to see Old Faithful and a bit further due to driving from Wilson, WY. But loved it and found myself teary at the Yellowstone sign as had done it in 1977 with family. So it was so nostalgic! Grand Tetons were amazing but getting back to Yellowstone – our family wants to go back as even though the scenery was amazing, we only saw a mommy moose and calf (?? baby moose), a baby deer outside fencing and buffalo behind said fencing. We want to see animals!!! May all who go to these two parks be blessed with a safe time with families and make tons of memories.

    • Thank you very much, Ann! We’re so glad you guys had a great time! There’s just nothing better than making life long lasting memories with family!

  41. I stayed in Wilson, outside of Jackson, for the first fifteen days of June, 2014. (1) It seems that the end of the school year coincides with the 2nd week of June. So the crowd more than doubled everywhere in the 2nd week for us. But not a major problem in the Jackson Hole area which is less crowded than Yellowstone. (2) I would spend some time again in the Teton Park/Jackson Hole area . I would not return to Yellowstone or recommend it unless you are going into the backcountry. Simply because there are so many better alternatives in that region. (3) Spend some time in Teton NP and Jackson, and spend a lot of time just roaming areas of WY, ID and MT that have nothing to do with our park system. Fantastic. Go here and there in the middle of nowhere. Enveloped by incredible views and solitude that, unlike geysers, never lose their impact on your senses. Have lunch in small towns without a traffic light. Cross high passes with majestic views into valleys. Explore on your own. Love that area, but I find Yellowstone NP the antithesis of what I love about it.

    • 100% agree, Dennis! The area is just breathtaking and in our humble opinion, Yellowstone (especially during that time of year) completely makes you lose that feeling that you’re going there to find in the first place. Instead of solitude and fresh air, you get stress and exhaust fumes. We adore admiring the Tetons! And so true about the small cafes in the little towns in the area. We even love the feel of Jackson and thoroughly enjoyed taking in a rodeo there. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions. To our surprise and delight, this thread has turned into such a resource for folks trying to make up their minds about Yellowstone and the surrounding area. We sure appreciate your contribution!

  42. Linda Wells

    I so enjoyed reading your blog about Yellowstone, and all the comments following. Our family is planning a trip this September. We have a house rented in Lincoln ID, outside the Tetons. I am so excited. We have a full week out there and no set agenda so are planning day hikes, etc. My cousin and his wife from England will be joining us too. It is to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary (I was only 5 when we got married LOL ). So, we’re old, but still going strong 🙂

    • Oh! Happy anniversary! That sounds like a fantastic trip. What wonderful memories you will make. We hope you have a great time and please keep us posted. September sounds like a great time to be there! Safe travels!

  43. Rick Knepper

    I’ve made the National Parks the primary destination for all of my vacations for the past 20 years. Crowds and traffic are part and parcel of the experience at some of the more popular parks. I used to get super angry about it but I think I am just desensitized now. I’m a photographer that loves sunrise shooting and most of the time before and at sunrise, I have the park nearly to myself. As the NPS improves access to certain areas of the park for all Americans and foreign visitors, they create overcrowding problems for themselves and their visitors. I just got back from Yellowstone/Grand Teton two weeks ago and spent two nights there. Crowds notwithstanding, I was impressed enough with the photography opportunities that I intend to dedicate 2-3 weeks to Yellowstone alone over the next couple of years.

    Now for my Yellowstone gripe. There were too many attraction/overlook/trail closures in Yellowstone in the middle of peak season. I’m wondering if the park is out of money for upkeep on the things other than their money-making operations i.e. lodges, general stores etc.

    • We’ve read so many comments now about getting up early and having the park all to yourself! We definitely did that part wrong! We can only imagine the beautiful photos you got while you were there! How many National Parks have you seen so far?

  44. John d mcdaniel

    Dunno how i came across this site, but here goes. I live here, in west yellowstone. It is so miserable here with the armys of tourists. The park is so miserable my wife and havent been inside the place for years. Everytime we would want to pop in for an hour to visit the falls, or G prismatic, or whatever, it would take half a day because of traffic jams. All for a stinkin picture of a squirell or elk. For us locals, the millions of tourists every year ruin it. We actually have more fun down in island park. Memorial day through labor day, and then some, is just nuts and most of us hunker down inside or go somewhere else. When its -20 0r -40 below and the roads are empty as well as the grocery stores it is pure heaven. Until the stupid snowmobilers show up with their loud snowmobiles.

    • Oh gosh, John! We can only imagine. At least you have other options nearby as it is just so breathtakingly gorgeous there. And we bet those quiet months are absolute bliss.

  45. We visited the YNP the third time within the last two years. This time we stayed 14 days there in the second half of August. Of course we waited in the bison traffic, but we are aware, that the most of people in a traffic saw bison the first and maybe the last time in their life. I would suggest back country trials, anywhere there. We met just a few tourists on trials to Shoshone Lake, Lone Star Geyser, Avalanche Peak, Ribbon Lake, Petrified Tree, etc… We went also few items to the Old Faithful around 6 a.m. and after 7 pm. Believe me, we had the best summer ever… I forgot about evening meetings with rangers 🙂 They do so great job!!!! You can have great time in the YNP, but you need to prepare well for it before … or gain your own experience during the next visits :). Thank you

    • Thanks very much for your thoughts Pawel! Glad you guys have enjoyed the park so well. Hope we’ll get to return and to it the right way next time. 🙂 Cheers!

  46. Jessica and Daniel

    I think you’ve saved our summer vacation. We were looking at traveling out there from NC in early August, and just the beginning planning and seeing the reservations filled up a year in advance had us second guessing ourselves! Your review has sealed the deal for us. We’re going after Labor Day instead #perksofhomeschooling. Thanks for the honest review! It’s brave of you to go against the popular opinion,and we appreciate it!

    • Hey guys! Thanks for writing! And yeah… we would never tell anyone NOT to go to Yellowstone, but we think you’ll enjoy the experience much more after Labor Day. Please let us know how the trip goes! Thanks again and safe travels!

  47. Mary Jo Moline

    We have visited Yellowstone probably eight or more times with most of those trips just being long day trips. On September 16, 2018, we got caught in a three hour “bison jam” leaving Old Faithful headed towards West Yellowstone. This was our first time ever caught in such a bad traffic jam, and we have visited in the summer, Memorial day weekend, and now in September. Normally, we stay away from the west side of the park and now I understand why! I still like Yellowstone as we try to find the unbeaten paths, but that traffic jam was just terribly awful. I’m glad I read your blog because now I understand our experience was not unique.

    • Ugh. Yeah. All that darn traffic! Yuck! Sorry to hear that Mary Jo. We can sympathize for sure! 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

  48. Like so many places and experiences, the tourist on the run is always risky. Even something as simple as seeing the fall foliage in New England. The only people who really get to SEE the fall foliage are locals who’ve lived here for years. But putting aside the dream of living in Yellowstone, your suggestions are good. I’d add one idea. I was there in August 2017 and didn’t have too much trouble dealing with crowds and traffic because of two things: 1) I created a mindset that I’d NOT get frustrated by “bear jams” but I’d enjoy them. Often they’re good not only for wildlife watching, but people watching! 2) I did a LOT of things early, early, early in the morning. Old faithful at sunrise, with 6 other people and the sun coming up as the geyser erupted. I’d drive as early as 4 a.m., see things as soon as it got light, and often be back and my campsite as early as 11 a.m. to take a wonderful nap and spend the rest of the day relaxing while other people were stuck in traffic.

    • GREAT suggestions, Ed! Thank you very much! From your post and many others, we’ve definitely realized early in the morning is key! We sure appreciate you stopping by and adding your thoughts to this thread. It’s been pretty cool to see what other folks have encountered on their journeys!

  49. We visited Yellowstone this past August, and I was surprised to read about your bad experience! We traveled with our 12 year old daughter, and because of school summer was the only option for us. Yes it is crowded, and nobody likes that, but we were well aware of what to expect, after reading numerous blogs, watching countless youtube videos and exploring YNP website. They’re right when saying “pack your patience” if visiting Yellowstone in the summer. So I guess my point is, if you’re mentally prepared for the crowds and the traffic, it doesn’t seem that bad. We expected it to be worse, than what it actually was, believe it or not! Another great tip, that I share with everybody is – start your day early, 6:00-7 am is the best! Not only you get to see so much more wildlife (they are most active at dusk and dawn) you actually avoid a lot of the crowds, for most people don’t hit the park until 10 am! (official statistics) We had the best time, it is without a doubt the coolest place we have ever traveled to. Best of luck to you next time!

    • Hi Alina! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! With all of the suggestions, we know we’ll have a much better time next go around! And hopefully many other folks on this thread will too! So glad to hear you and your family had such a great time!

  50. Nikki – wow so glad I just found your blog, super honest well written. I will be going to Big Sky in mid JUne. But think I will avoid YNP and visit Tetons instead. Do you have a blog on Teton Park or Jackson area? We will have approx 5 days, can fly into Jackson instead of Bozeman, but will need to end up in Big Sky for meeting. Love the off the beaten path, I’m 60 in good (great) shape, husband 66 – ok shape no hiking. Do not need 5 start hotels, so suggest towns and accommodations. Love the blog! Thanks Beth in SC

    • Hi Beth! Thank you very much for reaching out to us! We do highly recommend visiting the Tetons and the Jackson area! We went on a fantastic wildlife safari with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. https://twofortheroad.com/gallery-photos-epic-wyoming-wildlife-safari/ Highly recommend. We were there filming for an episode during the winter months, but we’ve also been in the summer. Just he scenery alone is mind bending. And Jackson is a really pretty little town full of great restaurants and shops. We stayed at the Heart Six Guest Ranch outside of Jackson. We’ve actually stayed with them a couple of times now, and we really enjoy it. Dusty had a great time fly fishing in the streams during the summer months. You can go to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and take the tram up to 10,400 feet to Rendezvous Peak to Corbet’s Cabin for waffles and some of the best views ever! There’s just so much to do, but be sure and take some time just to sit back and take it all in. It’s such beautiful country!

  51. Hi I hope someone can answer this for me. We are in the process of planning a trip to YNP this Sept. 2019. While I am completely excited about the scenery and animals we will see I have a terrible fear of bears of any kind. It is starting to ruin my anticipation of going. I’m sure we will hike a bit but I’m not sure if I will be able to get past my fear to go with my husband like I usually do. I’m afrayit will ruin my trip. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Deb! Great to hear from you! I completely understand what it’s like to have a deep fear about something in particular. I had a nasty fall several years ago. It took my breath away and I hit my head really hard. Ever since then, I’ve been deathly afraid to hike downward on slippery terrain. It’s been really hard to shake, especially since we still hike downward on slippery terrain!! EEK! I realize we’re talking about apples and oranges here, but the link is fear. I would recommend reading articles on Yellowstone and bears. You definitely have to be smart and follow the rules. But if you do that, I really don’t see you having any issues. We saw a couple of bears from our car while we were there (from a distance), and they were really thrilling to see out there in their natural habitat. The bears couldn’t have cared less about what we were doing. I would encourage you to face your fear and just go. Especially that time of year when the park isn’t as crowded. And keep us updated! ~Nik

    • Hi Deb. I live in NW Montana, which is definitely bear country. My thoughts are this: be “Bear Aware” but if you’re prepared and have common sense there is no need to be full of fear. Put bells on your walking sticks and dogs if you have them hike with you. Talk amongst yourselves in a normal voice while hiking in and out. The key here is to give bears a chance to move away from you. They hear you coming. Walk slowly and keep your eyes peeled, stopping occasionally to look around (and up), not because they will sneak up on you or anything, but it’s just a good practice to be aware of your surroundings. I’ve had bear come through camp in Montana several times, both black bear and grizzly but my food was all stored in the cab of the vehicle and they didn’t cause any problems. Lastly, bring bear spray and make sure you’re familiar with how to use it before hand. Educate yourself on what to do “just in case”. Bears aren’t monsters, but people can be idiots. Don’t be one of them and you’ll have a great time! Honestly! You will be so glad you faced your fears. Good luck!

  52. Cheryl Graybeal

    We have a five day trip to YS the last week of June starting in Cheyenne going north to Cody staying the night there. Starting out early and heading to the Chief Joseph Senic Highway then hit the Beartooth, we are going to travel up to Red Lodge and then turn back around and experience the Beartooth from the opposite direction and ending in Cooke City just outside the NE entrance to the park to stay for the night. From there we are going to head to the West entrance seeing what we can for the day before staying the night by the west entrance. The last leg will be the southern portion of the park where we will travel through Jackson staying one more night on the road before heading back to Cheyenne. I’m hoping if we leave Cheyenne early enough we can pop into the western side of the park to Fishing Bridge before heading back to our little rustic cabin we’ve rented for the night. Reading all your posts I’m really hoping by breaking the park up in sections each day that it won’t be so bad even if we do run into bear and elk jams. What do you think? And I will post after our trip in June to let you know how good or bad it went haha.

  53. Don Thacker

    Fascinating read, I read every comment! Contemplating a trip around mid-September this year or next, driving down from Alberta. Was there at the start of June 2014 and found it beyond fascinating. My wife’s comment was, “Why haven’t we ever been here before”. We are both interested in geography/geology/geomorphology, and Yellowstone is magical for that! We toured for two long full days in the park and managed to do every drive and walk every boardwalk at all the main geyser basins along the two main loop roads, plus Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, etc. I didn’t find the crowds bad, but it was a Monday and Tuesday at the very start of June. Old Faithful was busy, but the Geyser Trail behind it had almost no people and was my favorite walk of that day. Watched OF erupt once when we arrived, and once more when we finished the Geyser Trail. Stayed at Gardiner one night and West Yellowstone two nights. Now… having said the crowds weren’t bad, we did hit some traffic jams on the west side of the park. Leaving OF and driving north to the Lower Geyser Basin and Paint Pots, we hit a jam of cars watching a single bison, so U-turned and spent 30 minutes hiking Biscuit Basin, by which time the bison had left and the traffic had cleared. That same evening, around sunset while driving to West Yellowstone, we hit a jam of at least 20 minutes, but at least this time it was for 20 or more bison and calves walking along the side of the road. On the second morning, we hit a jam heading to Middle Geyser Basin and the Firehole Lake Drive and after inching along for 20-30 minutes we abandoned it, did a U-turn and passed over a mile-long row of cars (yikes), and drove the loop in the other direction, coming back to these sites at the end of day. So while traffic was not an issue in most places, there were some wildlife jams in the western part of the park (though not the multiple-hour jams you speak of!).

    Now my problem. I want to return, probably around mid-September, this time to do some short hikes to sights a bit beyond the mainstream sites. Things like Monument Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, Queen’s Laundry Geyser, etc., — all spots on the west side of the park. I shouldn’t have to worry about crowds on these hikes, but I would be staying in West Yellowstone and it’s between there and the hikes I’m planning where I hit the wildlife jams at the start of June 2014. Sure would hate to get stuck in traffic and spend my time sitting in a car instead of on a trail. Staying within the park would make sense, but it’s too late for 2019 bookings now. I wonder if mid-September would be late enough to not have to deal too much with traffic? I’m worried about snow and ice the later I leave the trip, and crowds the earlier I make the trip. I can’t be quite as flexible this time with abandoning traffic jams and heading the other way, since there are specific spots I want to get to in a timely fashion. I could go later, like end of September… I wonder if that makes icy roads and snow an issue. Is mid-September too early to beat crowds? I understand they are only getting worse every year…. hmmmm

  54. Don Thacker

    Did a bit of looking around and came across these two websites that give monthly visitor statistics to Yellowstone, which could be really helpful in planning with respect to crowds. The first is a graph showing average monthly visitation for the 5 years, 2013-2017. This is in graph form so very easy to visualize.


    The second site is more for number geeks who want to dig deeper into the data, it shows visitation numbers for every single month from January 1979 through January 2019 (and will presumably continue to be updated as new monthly numbers come in).


    • This is fantastic! Thank you for all of your suggestions! It’s been so great to watch this thread grow. We’ll definitely have a wealth of information under our belts next time around! And it’s super cool that other folks will too! Cheers!

  55. Cooki Thier

    My husband wanted to see Yellowstone in the winter! Fool. He got snowed in. But, we found their webcam and had him go out and stand in front of the geiser and wave to us. He was so bored he texted us all day that he was going out to wave to us! We saved the screen shots for posterity.

    • Oh my gosh, Cooki!That’s wild! So glad everything was ok! We’re sure the screenshots have been great conversation starters! Lol…

  56. Richard Drees

    Thank you for your take on Yellowstone. I truly get “it” and if you have to ask what “it” is , then as people in all walks of life , you don’t . Thanks again and I’ll be watching you tow do your thing. Richard

  57. Thanks so much for this article. I am (unexpectedly and quickly) relocating from Washington to Vermont at the end of this month. My dogs aren’t eligible to fly, so I’m looking at the logistics of a cross country roadtrip, and obviously, since I may never get the chance again, I thought I’d take the time to go up to Glacier, then down through Yellowstone and Grand Teton and then over to Mt Rushmore/Badlands.

    The crowds, lodging, logistics of roadtripping the two weeks leading up to Independence Day basically have me thinking stop in Glacier, then drive through Yellowstone as fast as possible, and make camp again when I finally hit Grand Teton… I despise crowds. Almost enough to skip the trip completely and just drive straight west the whole way.

    • Congratulations on your next chapter in life! Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. It’s definitely a busy time of year for folks like us who aren’t big on crowds. But because it may be your only chance, we’d never tell you to skip it altogether. It is such beautiful country and we really think you and your dogs will enjoy it! If the crowds at Glacier and the Tetons are anything like they were when we were there (around the same time of year), we’d say definitely go for it! It wasn’t congested and we LOVED our time there. And as far as Yellowstone goes, we hear great things from folks who go super early in the morning before the crowds begin to stir. So after reading many comments and suggestions on this thread, we’d recommend doing it that way.

      Please keep us posted! We’d love to hear all about it. Safe travels and good luck in Vermont!

      • I have been several times. Even mid-September can be a hassle. But, if you have time to get out of your car and walk a half mile on any trail, those crowds all but disappear. Also, the Tetons……life changing experience!

        • We’ve definitely got to give it another shot when we have more time! And we adore the Tetons! Just so, so beautiful! Thank you very much! Cheers!

  58. Mike Pearce

    Thanks for the advise. My wife and I are avid hikers and are planning a trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We hate crowds and was afraid of Yellowstone. Your article just confirmed my fears. We hope you enjoyed Glacier. We vacayed there the last two years and absolutely love the place. If you are hiking the east side, stay there. Same goes for the west side. You have to make one trip across the park on Going to the Sun Road. Do it in both directions. Absolutely one of the most magnificent drives I have ever made.

    • You betcha! And if you’re like us (and it sure sounds like you are) the crowds at Yellowstone in the summer will eat you up. But we’ve heard so many wonderful things about visiting in the spring, fall and some winter months as well. We look forward to doing that one of these days. We fell in love with the Tetons though and could go back time and time again to see those spectacular mountains! And Glacier! Oh how we LOVED Glacier! We did travel the Going to the Sun Road both ways and marveled at the incredible beauty. The only thing bad about traveling that road is you just don’t know which way to look. Which picture to take. It’s ALL so beautiful! We enjoyed staying up in Many Glacier as well. It was so peaceful and just so pretty. Glad you guys enjoyed it just as much as we did! Cheers!

  59. Teresa Connelly

    Thanks for the info! We are going to Montana the last week in June, spending 3 nights in Livingston, MT then heading up for 4 nights in Glacier. Really wanted to see Yellowstone but maybe we should skip and go to Grand Teton instead?

    • Hey Teresa! We could never tell anyone NOT to visit Yellowstone! Because your experience might be totally different from ours. The nice thing is though, the two parks (Yellowstone and Tetons) are so close that if Yellowstone is absolutely crazy you can certainly drive on through to the Tetons. In any case you’ll see some spectacular country! Let us know how it goes!

  60. Hilary Hosek

    I am really shocked to read this. We are heading to Yellowstone this summer, after consulting with close friends who have been to Yellowstone 10 times over the years, mostly in the summer, and they have also been to Grand Teton, Yosemite, Glacier, etc. Very experienced campers and enthusiasts of the National Parks. They were very positive about the experience. I’ve also spoken to at least 5 co-workers who have all been to Yellowstone in the summer – they also were extremely positive. I am just sharing this because I’m not sure this perspective in the narrative here is truly balanced and can certainly have an impact on readers’ decisions about going to Yellowstone.

    • Hey Hilary! Thanks for reaching out to us. We definitely admit we did Yellowstone all wrong. That’s why we titled the blog post “How NOT to See Yellowstone”. We didn’t allow enough time (although being in the middle of summer with the thousands of people, we would’ve left early anyway – just not our cup of tea). This post has turned into a great resource for people across the country. In reading all of the comments, we ourselves have better ideas for our next visit. Many people feel the exact way we did. Many have great suggestions on how we could’ve avoided our disaster. And many just don’t see our point of view at all, and that’s what is great about travel. We all have our own ideas, expectations, and feelings. But to be quite honest, we wrote about our experience. And it wasn’t a good one. We’re not going to add fluff that just wasn’t there for us. We don’t feel like that would be the right thing to do. We’re thrilled others have found ways to enjoy Yellowstone. And we’re 100% willing to go back and give it another shot (just not in the summer). Hopefully that post will be a more positive one. But it will be an honest whichever way it goes. Thanks!

  61. We went to Yellowstone over Christmas a few years ago and it was awesome! You can snowmobile to Old Faithful, snowshoe in the park and there is plenty of wildlife. Unfortunately, there are no bears but there aren’t really any crowds either.

    • Hey, Susan! Thanks for reaching out! And thanks for the wonderful suggestion! We’ve decided we’ll definitely give it another go (in winter)! It sounds absolutely lovely! 🙂

  62. Bob Knipper

    Just got back 3 days we made our drives around the park early am and late pm. Had no traffic jams. Saw plenty of wildlife and had a wonderful time. Try starting at daylight animals are more active and the city folk are sleeping in. 11 to 4 we relaxed no crowd issues

    • Hi, Bob! Thank you so much for writing to let us know. Seems this post is becoming a great resource! We can’t wait to go back and see Yellowstone the RIGHT way!! So glad to hear you guys had a great time!

  63. G Courcier

    Couldn’t agree more with your assessment of some of the Rangers. Over many years ,I have had the worst experiences with “law enforcement” in National Parks. They are rude, and act like a visitor is an inconvenience and we are invading their home and have no right to be there. I’ve had a ranger in Capital Reef follow us around the park yelling at us every time we decided to pull over and enjoy a view while no other visitors were in sight. An idiot in the bottom of the Grand Canyon tell 12 soaked campers during a downpour that they can’t huddle under the porch of an outbuilding connected to their cabin because they are trespassing on “private property”. Another clown in Glacier give me a speeding ticket coming out of an entrance station during which I had driven 5 miles an hour UNDER the speed limit, saying that even though I had passed into a higher speed limit zone, that i couldn’t have possibly been driving the posted speed limit earlier in the lower speed zone and get to the new speed that quickly. These guys need an attitude adjustment. I am a strict rule follower, and adhere to all the park regulations, but these parks are for us the public to enjoy. They are not the personal property of, or meant for the exclusive use of government employees. If they don’t like interacting with the public or want to be helpful they shouldn’t have the job.

    • We sure hate to hear that. Such a bummer. We’ve had great luck with rangers in parks all over the country, but we sure didn’t have the same experience in Yellowstone. So many folks have had great experiences though so maybe we just had bad luck or were just there on an off day. We were so impressed with the rangers in Glacier (after visiting Yellowstone) but were only there a few days. We’ve got so many wonderful rangers here in our neck of the woods. Some close friends. Luckily for us the good far outweighs the bad. Hopefully you too will have better luck down the road. Thanks for reaching out! Cheers!

  64. Every year when we are planning our yearly trip, I keep coming across this site. I have to agree with everything you have said about Yellowstone. With that being said, Yellowstone is my favorite place on earth! Here is what we do differently.

    – We try to go in early-mid June. Timing it when both Dunraven Pass and Beartooth Highway are open.
    – We book our accommodations outside the park. Silver Gate has been the best location for us due to what we like to do.
    – We focus on Wildlife. This means spending the bulk of our time in the north-east part of the park. There are far less crowds there because there are less ‘attractions’ to stop at. Most of our days are spent driving from Silver Gate to Mammoth and back soaking up all of the wildlife along the way. We also love the drive from Tower to Canyon. Lots of wildlife there too! In fact, I had my first 3 dog day on our last trip on the roads from Silver Gate to Canyon (Wolf, Coyote, Fox).
    – We only go to the attractions mid-week. Very rarely do we go to the Old Faithful area (and sitting in that traffic reminds me every time why I dont). We do love Canyon, but if you go there early in the morning, mid week, its not as crowded (try to beat the busses…you know the drill).
    – We spend the weekends exploring Silver Gate and Beartooth Highway. So beautiful up there.
    – If we do want to take in some Geysers, the geyser basin south of Hayden Valley is our go to.
    – We pack all of our food in a cooler for the day and try to stay away from the park restaurants.

    Hopefully next year we will do Glacier. I think I am spoiled with the ease of access to wildlife and Im trying to temper my expectations in Glacier. I would love to hear some tips on how to maximize my 5-6 days in GNP.

    • Hello! What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much! This post has become such a great resource! And we’re so thrilled to have all the fantastic recommendations from folks that did Yellowstone the right way. 😉 We feel like we’re ready to try it again with all of the feedback we’ve gotten on this post. So thanks again for your contribution! We were only in Glacier for a couple of days but we loved every minute of it. The Going-to-the-Sun-Road is absolutely spectacular! We tent camped at Many Glacier Campground and heard several stories about bears. Saw a few right outside the campground too. There is of course a beautiful lodge there as well, Many Glacier Hotel. We would LOVE to go back and spend more time! Thanks again for all of your fabulous recommendations! Hope you and yours are doing well!

  65. There’s no reason to apologize for sharing unflattering stories about Yellowstone. While I love the place and spend a lot of time there, I think you’re doing a service by drawing attention to its issues. Because it has issues. “Drive through amusement park” is apt. I think the lesson here is that you can’t “do” nature from your vehicle (you can’t have your cake and eat it too) and the belief that you can– a belief which Yellowstone has come to epitomize– is turning the place into a farce. So thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks very much for the kind words! And yeah, we absolutely hope to return to Yellowstone in the off-season and do it the “right way”. Cheers!

  66. I can totally relate to this… we were in Yellowstone in the middle of June, 2018 and it wasn’t fun at all… it was terribly crowded. We left after one day. About half the visitors were from China. The Chinese have discovered Yellowstone and are visiting in droves! The only silver lining: we noticed all the geysers and mud pots were deserted around dinner time, so we managed to see a lot then. We’re planning on going now in the end of June, 2021 and will enter the park around 4:30pm – 5:00pm. I figure we’ll have about a two hour window to see things and then we’ll leave. I’m hoping I can enjoy the Tetons during the day, and sneak into Yellowstone for a few hours during dinner time… we’ll see how that goes.

  67. So… I didn’t read through all of the posts. But as a native and current Wyomingite I can say we also have a positive and negative view of Yellowstone, tourists etc… Please do not think that June is slower than any of the other summer months. Why? because everybody else has the same idea as you. If you want to experience REDUCED crowds then you better consider May or September. But again, others think along the same lines. Most of us know better then to even attempt going through the park during the summer, I have done it twice on an adventure motorcycle and I avoided the Old Faithful area like the plague. We also started through the park at 0530 in morning, which was so much better for travelling and wildlife, not to beat up tourists too much, but most aren’t even out of bed yet. In response to park officers… I agree that acting professionally is a necessity of the job. However, do you realize the crap that these guys have to put up with? Over and over. People do not listen. We shake our heads as we hear that yet again, someone has been gored by another buffalo. Man! be smart!! they are fast at short distances, and have the attitude of badger if provoked. Same with bears. They can run upwards of 30 mph short distances. Can any human run that fast? If so for how long. Yet this is a repetitive reality. I do feel for these guys to a point, that some people are stupid, and furthermore they put other people in danger with their actions. As for the Grand Tetons. I used to live in that area. Now at rush hour it can take 1.5 hours to go over the pass to Victor, 15 miles away. It used to be off season in the spring and fall. Now there is no off season. Be careful of the amount of money needed to stay, it is expensive. There is a reason they say it is the most expensive zip code in the states. Look at surrounding areas to stay, such as maybe Victor ID, Pinedale etc.. It also books up insanely fast so prepare early. Everybody wants to live in Jackson but they can’t afford it. So they buy an RV and just move it from RV park spot to spot. This eats up spaces. But what the hell, I live in WY, pay taxes and can’t even get a camping spot in the Big Horns due to the out of state people dropping their RV for the summer. Frustrating.

    • Totally understand your frustration! We felt the same way during big festivals when we lived in Austin. It’s tough for sure and we feel your pain! Thank you so much for all of your suggestions! This blog post has become such a great resource for folks seeking advice about your area. It’s one of our most popular posts to date. Turns out doing things the wrong way was a blessing in disguise. Now we feel like we’ll be much more prepared for the next try. Thanks again!

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