Yellowstone National Park is the second most-visited national park in the country, and for good reason. The park’s stunning landscapes and incredible natural features make it a bucket-list destination for people around the world.
One of the best things about Yellowstone is there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or prefer sightseeing from a vehicle, you can still enjoy the beauty of the park.
Planning a visit to Yellowstone National Park? Keep reading to learn what you need to know about this incredible destination.
A Brief History of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone may be the second most-visited national park, following Smoky Mountain National Park. But it holds first place in a different category; first national park.
Yellowstone became not just America’s, but the world’s first national park on March 1, 1872. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act to preserve the unique landscapes and resources of the park. The park even preceded the National Park Service, which wasn’t founded until August of 1916.
But the history of Yellowstone began far before it became a national park. In fact, evidence of humans in the region dates back more than 11,000 years. Many different Native American tribes inhabited the area, though the best known tribe was called Tukundika.
European Americans didn’t reach the park until the early 1830s, with the first organized expedition to the park launching in 1870, just a short time before the area became a national park.
During the early years of the national park, travel to and from Yellowstone was incredibly difficult. But in 1883, the railroad arrived, and visitor numbers began to grow. Until the National Park Service was founded, the United States Army managed the park. In 1915, cars first entered the park. Since then, park visitor numbers have only continued to grow.
When to Visit
When you choose to visit Yellowstone will have a big impact on your experience. To start, the weather varies widely from one season to the next. Winter in the park brings several feet of snow. In fact, the average snowfall in December alone is 72 inches. Many of the roads in the park close during this season, and getting around can be tough. However, if you’ve ever wanted to try snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, this is a great chance to do so.
The snowfall lasts well into the spring months. In fact, Yellowstone Lake usually stays frozen over until well into July. However, as the snow begins to melt, spring offers mild temperatures and fewer crowds in the park. This is also a great time to see wildlife, as bears, elk, and bison tend to be more active.
In terms of weather, summer is the best time to visit Yellowstone. Temperatures climb into the 70s, and precipitation is rare. However, this is also the most popular season to visit the park, which means more crowds, particularly at popular overlooks and landmarks like Old Faithful.
As the crowds begin to fade, fall ushers in cooler temperatures and some beautiful color changes. At the end of October, the snow sets in, and roads begin to close for the year.
Things to Do
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Yellowstone. Of course, one of the most popular natural attractions is the park’s geysers. Yellowstone is home to the largest field of active geysers in the world. You’ll find them in many places throughout the park. Some are more active, and larger than others. Old Geyser is the most popular, but there are plenty of others to see that draw fewer crowds.
The chance to spot wild animals is another thing that draws visitors to the park. Brown bears, herds of bison, bald eagles, gray wolves, elk, and a variety of other animals call the park home. While you can’t guarantee a sighting, the odds are good that you’ll see at least some wildlife during your visit.
Hiking, rafting, and fishing are just a few of the outdoor activities you can enjoy during your visit. But even a simple drive through the park is breathtaking.
The Best Way to Visit Yellowstone National Park
If you want to easily navigate the crowds and see all that Yellowstone has to offer, the best way to visit is with a private tour. With an experienced guide on your side, you’ll hit the highlights and avoid the crowds, while also learning about this incredible and unique national park.
On our Yellowstone and Grand Teton 7-Day Scheduled Departure Tour, you’ll get to see geysers and mineral pools up close, hike some incredible trails, spot wildlife, and more, while enjoying some of the best lodging the Yellowstone area has to offer.
Planning Your Next National Park Adventure
Whether you have your heart set on visiting Yellowstone or want to visit a different western national park, we have a tour for you.
Spots are filling up fast for our fall 2021 tours. Book your spot today by reaching out directly at (435) 940-4212 or through your local travel agent. Start planning your 2022 vacation to guarantee your choice of trips and dates.