If you are a big fan of the outdoors, a visit to Yellowstone National Park is probably on your list of things to do. I had great time visiting it with my RV. Located in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States, and is actually widely believed to be the first national park worldwide. Mostly a sub-alpine forest, Yellowstone is home to Old Faithful, a geothermal geyser that has become one of the most popular features of the park.
If you want to be one of the 3.5 million annual visitors to Yellowstone, there are some things you should know before venturing out. This is especially true if you wish to travel in the comfort of an RV, which brings with it its own set of necessary preparations.
Due to the large number of annual visitors, campgrounds at Yellowstone tend to fill their vacancies extremely early. This is especially true of RV accessible areas, which are in extremely high demand. There are places for RV camping at all campgrounds in Yellowstone, but keep in mind that there are size restrictions.
RVs greater than forty feet in length are not permitted at any of the five campgrounds, so keep this in mind if you are renting an RV just for the occasion. The Fishing Bridge campsite allows for an additional 25-feet of towed/towing vehicle. The four other campsites include the towed or towing vehicle in their forty feet restriction.
I stayed in two parks, the Rustic Wagon, and the Fireside Resort. Both were outside of the park but close enough. Because of the large amounts of tourists, those were pricey compare to other parks little farther from Yellowstone.
When people think of national parks, they tend to envision large, open expanses that are completely free to roam. While you will not be disappointed in the amazing landscape and freedom afforded by Yellowstone, the large amount of traffic may take you aback. As previously mentioned, there are an estimated 3.5 million visitors annually. This incredible volume of people, plus summer road construction, can lead to traffic jams. Plan on longer-than-expected driving times, and be sure to arrive early.
Many people think Yellowstone is at its best during June, July, and August, and they are not necessarily wrong. Keep in mind, however, that visiting during May or September can help you to avoid the traffic and increase the amount of time you get to spend truly enjoying the park.
Roads are completely opened by Memorial Day weekend in May. Before this, some roads may not be open to RV travel. In May, you can expect to observe the birth of bison, moose and pronghorn, the sounds of the chorus frogs throughout the wetlands, and the emergence of wolf pups from their dens. Memorial Day also marks the opening of fishing season. This is a great time for camping, fishing, hiking, and boating.
Roads do not begin closing until later in October. During this time, you will be able to observe bears in lower elevations, check out the fall foliage, and possibly even see some snow. This is a great time of year for hiking and wildlife observation.
Utilize the Fishing Bridge Campground
While all of the campgrounds offer RV accessibility, Fishing Bridge offers the greatest amount of services for RVers. It is the only campground in Yellowstone that has a dump station and full hook-ups. This is also a great campground from which to observe grizzly bears; in fact, the appearance of grizzlies in this area is so great that tent camping is not allowed.
Speaking of Bears
There are a lot of bears in Yellowstone National Park. Where do you think the inspiration for the Yogi Bear cartoon came from? These bears will do more than just take your picnic baskets, so it is important to prevent any close encounters. Bears have an incredible sense of smell, and will find your food if you do not store it properly. Make sure that all food is stored in a vehicle, or inside a storage box especially meant to keep bears away. Do not forget to also store any equipment that may have a lingering scent of food on them. This includes trash, grills, coolers, and utensils.
Plan Your Route
Make sure to do thorough research on your planned route before taking off for Yellowstone. The Bighorn Mountains and the Beartooth Highway should be avoided when traveling in an RV; there are alternate routes you can take to avoid these.