Is Yellowstone National Park worth a visit? Absolutely! However, will we make it a priority to return ASAP? Probably not. I know there are people out there who must visit Yellowstone every year. Maybe I am crazy? But I have many other places on my bucket list to explore before returning to Yellowstone. There is a long list of what not to do in Yellowstone National Park. Why? Here’s why.
The biggest surprise to me was how much time we spent driving while visiting Yellowstone National Park. Maybe my expectations were not properly set. I had planned our itinerary and knew our top spots to see. Unfortunately, most of these priorities were not close together and driving is slow. Extremely slow.
The speed limit throughout the entire park is 45 miles per hour. There will be long stretches on a two-lane highway that you are traveling at 45 miles per hour and typically much slower. And then you spend time sitting…..and waiting…..
What Not To Do In Yellowstone National Park: Bypass Animal Jams
Are animal jams a real thing? 100%! In researching and planning our trip, I read about animal jams. And we experienced our share while visiting the park. One of our absolute favorite things is to see wildlife so when we came upon an animal jam, the excitement of seeing wildlife was always high in our vehicle. You slowly poke along searching and searching through the trees or across the field for a wildlife sighting in the distance. Then you arrive to find out that the wolf or the bear or the bison just disappeared over the hill and you missed it. Talk about disappointment!
Snacks and Drinks
The biggest tip I can offer is simple. Have snacks and drinks readily available in the car. Raising three boys, I should have known better. However, this was a mom failure that I let us head into the park several times without snacks. When stuck in an animal jam or fighting traffic throughout the park, snacks are necessary to keep the complaints to a minimum. We did not stop and eat anywhere in the park. Maybe there are places but not any that I recall seeing. It seemed like as soon as we would get to our destination, someone would be hungry, complaining and ready to go get food.
What Not To Do In Yellowstone National Park: Drive Past All The Scenery
Yellowstone is gorgeous. A place like no other. When I saw pictures, I expected that we would be seeing these wonders everywhere. Maybe that was an unrealistic expectation. Since Yellowstone is huge (over 2 million acres), you spend a lot of time driving through forest. Trees and trees. Granted, its gorgeous. But be prepared to spend a large chunk of time driving through areas that are pretty but there are only certain areas that provide the extraordinary geothermic areas. Make sure you take the time to stop frequently and enjoy all the scenery. You don’t want to stay in the car and drive from location to location or the majority of your time will be spent missing it.
Biggest Disappointment: Sulfur Smell
This seems silly to me to even mention but I know there are those out there that are sensitive to smells. And, I have three boys that get hangry easily and complain when hangry. However, when you are near the geyser basins in Yellowstone, you will experience a not-so-pleasant smell. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs. In order to admire the beauty, you have to be able to handle the smell.
Are we glad that we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Absolutely and someday, I would like to visit again to see the parts that we missed on our first trip. Read my article here for all the magical places we did love. It’s a place like no other and everyone should experience the magnificent wonders this park has to offer. However, make sure to set your expectations and prepare. On our next visit, I’ll plan for more time in the car.
On our last day reserved for Yellowstone, we decided to skip the park and go biking at Big Sky Mountain instead. Let me tell you….we love, love, loved it! Read more in our Ultimate Guide to Yellowstone National Park….