Geysers, bubbling mud pools, hot springs and steaming beautifully colored sulfur puddles. In Yellowstone National Park, magma swirls just below the Earth’s crust. Everywhere in the park steam rises from the earth. This epic place deserves a spot at the top of your bucket list.
rizzly bears, black bears, wolves, bison, elk, deer, foxes and coyotes roam the plains and through endless forests. The tracks you can follow in the park cover 1600 km. The distance between the northern and southern entrances of the park is more than 150 km. Huge. Mountains reach up to 3500 meters altitude. And at the heart of the park is a vast lake: Yellowstone Lake. There is so much to see. The park is so big. How do you organize your tour through Yellowstone Park? Read our tips and discover exactly what to do in Yellowstone and how best to organize a tour.
With these 10 tips you can organize your tour in Yellowstone National Park
To visit the park you need a rental car. There are five access roads to the park. How you best plan your trip depends a bit on the access route you choose and the time you arrive at the park. Free camping in the park is not allowed, but in the park you will find hotels and spacious campsites, of which the one in Madison is the most central. Is there no place to stay overnight? Then you have to leave the park. Below you will find more tips to keep in mind when traveling in Yellowstone:
- Plan your trip carefully. If you go in the summer, it is wise to book your hotel or camping spot at least six months or more in advance. Everything is full in the summer. If the campsites are full, you have to find a spot outside the park, perhaps more than 100 km away. Only the campsite at Mammoth is open all year round.
- Reserve a spot at the modern campground in Madison centrally located in the park. Campsites here are cheap and very popular at a price of about $20 per night. If you book one night too many, it hardly matters financially.
- Outside the high season, the period is from mid-May to mid-June, and September and October are also ideal for visiting the park. All access roads to and all campsites in the park will then be open. Chances are you can hop from one campsite to another.
- If you arrive at a campsite after 9 o’clock in the evening without a reservation, the campsite is closed. Even if there are free places you will not be admitted. You will be admitted with your reservation. An envelope will be ready for you late at night.
- From sometime in November to sometime in May, the eastern, western and southern access roads to the park will be closed. Pay attention. If you are standing in front of a closed entrance gate, you may have to detour for 500 km.
- The northern approaches at Silver Gate and Gardener are open all year round.
- There are several petrol pumps in the park. But it is wise to enter the park with a full tank.
- Stock up on supplies for your stay in the park. There are almost no shops in the park and what is for sale is priceless.
- Get out and about early in the summer and later in the day. Especially when you drive an RV. Parking lots at the top sites fill up quickly in the summer, so the earlier you arrive, the more likely there is a space for your RV.
- Keep away from bears, bison and wolves. They are wild animals that can be dangerous.
5 x what things to do in Yellowstone National Park
There are of course a few places that you really shouldn’t miss in this area. Wondering what to do in Yellowstone? Below you will find 5 must dos!
Upper Geyser Basin
The Upper Geyser Basin is located on an active volcano. In this basin you will find the largest active geyser in the park: Old Faithful. In the immediate vicinity you will find most geysers in the world. The eruptions of Old Faithful and other geysers – Anemone, Beehive, Plume and the Lion Group – are predicted daily by the rangers. Trails and bike paths run through and around the basin to, among others, Biscuit Basin and Black Sand Basin. The Upper Geyser Basin is centrally located in the park. You will find hotels in the immediate vicinity. The nearest campground is at Madison, 16 miles away.
Norris Geyser Basin
The Norris Geyser Basin is located on three fault lines of an active volcano. New geysers and boiling acidic wells appear here every year in which subterranean rocks dissolve. In the hot springs, heat-loving microorganisms give their stereotypical colors to the water. The Porcelain Basin is fragile light blue. The Ledge Geyser bright yellow. And the water that flows from the Pinwheel Geyser is emerald green. Between the geysers, bison forage for their food. The animals benefit from the thermal heat in winter. Trails of several kilometers long run through this lunar landscape to, among other things, the Back Basin. Norris is 14 miles north of Madison. Nearby you will find a campsite, but it is not open all year round.
Mammoth Hot Springs
The Mammoth Hot Springs are 3 miles from the north entrance to the park at Gardiner. The 73 degree hot springs are rich in lime which crystallizes where the water drains over the deposit around the spring. This is how layers of travertine build up. Micro-organisms give color to the running water. The course of the water and the amount of water bubbling up from the ground changes continuously. Via stairs you reach the highest sources. Or you can drive uphill by car to reach the wheelchair accessible viewpoints. From Mammoth it is 35 miles to Madison. There are hotels in the immediate vicinity. You can camp outside the park in nearby Gardiner.
The Mud Volcanos are Yellowstone’s most acidic and turbulent geysers. The acid dissolves the rocks and the soil. The earth steams, hisses, rumbles, burps and bubbles. Dangerous odors waft around you. The slopes of the hills are dotted with trees that have died in steam clouds. In the emerald green Sour Lake, your skin can dissolve in the water. And the water of the Sulper Caldron is more acidic than battery acid. You should not be here for a beauty treatment. This bizarre secluded landscape is about 31 miles from the eastern entrance and 37 miles from Madison. A trail runs through the basin. You’d better stay away from the bison and don’t leave the trail. You could just disappear and dissolve in a sinkhole.
Lower Geyser Basin
In the Lower Geyser Basin you will find the Fountain Paint Pot in which a mass of clay is boiled in battery acid to kaolinite depending on the season. A dye frequently used by the Native Americans. Geysers are constantly developing in the basin. Be irrigated by these friendly geysers, disappear into clouds of steam and find the rainbow to complete the picture. A few miles down Fire Lake Drive is the Great Fountain Geyser. To spot an eruption you have to be really patient. If the geyser slowly fills with water and overflows, it can take up to two hours for an eruption to develop. Take your time. You won’t be the only one waiting. The Lower Geyser Basin is about 6 miles from the campground in Madison.
What else you want to know about Yellowstone National Park ?
- In the park you have no range with your mobile phone.
- You can rent a special spray to keep bears at bay.
- It also helps to make a lot of noise, which bears don’t like: Take bells and a rattle with you when you go hiking.
- The National Park Service is always looking for volunteers. Europeans also work in Yellowstone Park.
- You can take endless trips on Yellowstone Lake by canoe. Inquire with the ranger which permits are needed to sail a boat and which permits are needed to camp in the wild.