5 Things to Know Before Going to Yellowstone National Park

things to know before visiting yellowstone park

Yellowstone, the initial national park in America, is massive, covering an expansive area of 2.2 million acres. Not just its size, Yellowstone also breaks up into a variety of unique regions and habitats that feature geysers, fumaroles, other geothermal sights, a canyon, a lake, series of limestone terraces, and copious amounts of freely wandering wildlife. Given its vastness and diversity, navigating the park can seem daunting. However, when you set foot in Yellowstone National Park, adhering to these insider pointers will ensure you have an optimal vacation experience.

#1. Visit Early!

Most of Yellowstone's day tourists tend to arrive between 8 am and 2 pm, leading to the longest queues at the entrance stations during these times. The West Entrance is particularly busy, with wait times often exceeding an hour. By entering the park before the major influx of visitors, you'll have the opportunity to embark on some of the most popular trails without the overwhelming presence of large crowds or the struggle to find parking for your initial stop.

#2. Limited Phone Service

Some may find it surprising, but the cell service in Yellowstone National Park is severely restricted. There are only a few cell towers scattered around the developed regions of the park, primarily one tower for each service area. For instance, all visitors in the Old Faithful region rely on the same tower. In summer, the high demand for cell service frequently overloads the system, making it largely ineffective. It's advisable to prepare for minimal connectivity, and if communication is necessary, texting is the most reliable method. You can check the Varied Lands website for a guided tour if you feel that you may get lost or run into trouble getting service.

#3. Prepared for Cold, Wet Weather

Visiting Yellowstone National Park during the shoulder season can entice travellers seeking to sidestep the intense summer heat. However, this also implies that visitors arriving later in the season may face unpredictable weather conditions, including potentially severe cold spells. The spring season in the Rockies often brings chilly, damp weather that can catch you off guard, and early fall is similar.

visiting yellowstone park things to know

From mid-September onwards, park-goers should be ready for sudden rain showers or even snowfall that could last for extended periods. Is it guaranteed you will encounter such weather? No. Predicting weather patterns accurately is challenging, so it's advisable to stay vigilant. Keep a close watch on the weather predictions before and during your visit, and ensure you have warm, waterproof clothing readily accessible as you traverse the park.

#4. Park is Stroller Friendly

To clear any confusion, a family trip to Yellowstone with small children is definitely a brilliant idea! Yellowstone provides many child-friendly activities, even for those still in strollers. The park boasts a multitude of geysers and springs, interconnected by flat, wooden boardwalks. These pathways are ideal for strollers and safe for little ones to tread. Many other attractions are also barely a stone's throw away from parking lots, which adds to the convenience for families with kids. Thus, visiting Yellowstone with young children is more than just doable; it's wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable.

#5. Use the Prepaid Queue!

Opt for the prepaid queue if you've already paid for your entry. Even if it appears longer than the regular entrance queues, it's quicker. In this line, the ranger's task is simply to confirm the validity of your receipt or pass and match it with your ID. The ID verification process is swift, ensuring that the name on your receipt or pass aligns with the ID. This quick check allows you to start exploring the park sooner. This queue progresses much faster compared to those where individuals need to halt and pay their entrance fees.


Yellowstone National Park is a spectacle providing varied experiences at each bend. Nonetheless, some preparation and prior knowledge can notably improve your visit. The park's splendour, abundant wildlife, and astounding geothermal features establish it as a destination that deserves a spot on everyone's travel bucket list.

What about you, have you ever been to Yellowstone Park? Feel free to share any tips & advice below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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