We left Grand Teton yesterday morning for Yellowstone. We had planned to stay in the park until Friday, but we ran into some roadblocks (literally). We were set to stay at Lewis Lake Campground, which is a non-generator site that rarely fills. Unfortunately, it was not listed on the NPS website that it was closed. Lower Yellowstone is a loop, and we opted to travel the less busy side of the loop to avoid the Old Faithful traffic on the other side. We saw some beautiful aspects of Yellowstone, like Yellowstone Lake:
Most of the campgrounds at Yellowstone are reservation only (filling months in advance), so we continued forward. There was a sign for 10pm-7am roadwork, but since it was 9:30am, we figured we were fine. However, they had one-lane, one-way road for 20 miles. By the time we arrived at the last campground in Yellowstone, we had been driving for over 2 hours in the park! Even the bison were stopped for construction:
We went for a short hike through Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs, which were beautiful. You have to remain on the boardwalk to avoid being scalded by the water and acids that lay just below the surface, as illustrated in the below warning sign:
We wrestled with our decision to leave Yellowstone early. It is such a stunning and enormous park. However, in the end, we knew that we would better enjoy it in another season. With the roadwork, it would take us at least 2-3 hours one-way to drive to the Old Faithful area of the park. The park as a whole was extremely busy, and since the road would be closed until 7am, we would be driving into the chaos with limited parking options (there are no shuttles). We were happy to see the animals that we did, happy to see some beautiful sights, and happy with our ranger program.
We would recommend visiting Yellowstone during its “shoulder seasons” of April-May or October, based on what Yellowstone employees told us. The spring and fall are much less crowded and there is a lot to see. The height of Yellowstone’s season is mid-July through mid-August, when over 90% of their visitors arrive. As one employee in the General Store told us, “If we can see the floor, we aren’t busy. We don’t even try to get into the park in June, July, or August.”
All in all, the Yellowstone that we did see was beautiful and we hope to visit it again!
We are currently in Montana, enjoying a brief spell out of the van as Ranger has his oil changed. We are heading east!