We were cruising through the National Parks Banff, Jasper, Yoho when something unexpected happened: Winter came! How was that possible? It was just summer and now people started saying things like, ‘This is the last week, we’re closing for winter, snow is coming in two weeks‘.
One night our trailer was actually standing on snow. The kids were wearing snow suites and we had all woolen hats, scarfs, gloves in use. Somehow we had taken longer to explore Vancouver Island than we should have.
A race against the cold started, we drove a lot, we drove South to escape Winter. So it happened that we had only 2.5 days for Yellowstone National Park. Initially we planned something like a 1-2 weeks stay to explore everything.
We decided to still go and see a little bit. Better than to skip it, we thought.
Here is our timelapse through Yellowstone National Park. But beware! People with epilepsy and sleeping problems should better not watch it.
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We came in the park at the North Entrance because we had planned to camp at Mammoth Campground. We didn’t have problems without reservations on so many campgrounds before that we didn’t have one here. Big mistake! All campgrounds inside the park were completely full. So we decided to drive to the West Entrance where there is a KOA campground (I called to find out if there was enough space for us.)
We drove Highway 89 through the park. The first image in the video was taken at Boiling River, pretty cool place where a hot water spring leads into a regular (cold) river. You can find the perfect temperature for soaking by moving closer or further away from the hot water.
The park offers a lot of wildlife! A LOT! When ever the traffic slows down or comes to a complete hold there is one or are many big animals next to the road or on the road. Most impressive are the bisons, huge, majestic, gentle and slow as a cow, but filled with the strength and power of a dragon.
Most astounding is the number of geysers, pools, springs, cones, craters in Yellowstone but only until you realize that Yellowstone on its own is an actual volcano, a supervolcano. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km) according to Wikipedia.
All of us enjoyed Yellowstone NP immensely and we’re glad we didn’t skip it. Even within the short time we had we saw a lot of wildlife and impressive geysers and hotsprings which we’ve never seen anywhere else.
The cost (entrance fee)
The regular 7-day pass for Yellowstone NP only is $30 (USD), the pass for YNP and Grand Teton costs $50 (USD) and you can get both online here: yellowstone.net
We instead got the yearly pass that can be used for all National Parks of the US. It’s $80 (USD) so if you’re going to 2 or 3 National Parks within one year it’s already a good deal.You can get that online here: store.usgs.gov
We visited many, I don’t know how many, National Parks on our way from Canada to Mexico so this pass saved us tons of money.
Here is a list and map of the National Parks.
Where to stay
We stayed at a campground in Yellowstone West. That’s a small town at the west entrance which seems to completely close down in winter. The Campground is outside of the park and called Yellowstone Park / Westgate KOA. It’s a pretty big campground and there is everything there that we needed including a huge playground.
There are 12 campgrounds in the park as well but they fill up quickly, even shortly before winter arrives so you better make a reservation ahead of time when you plan to camp inside the park.
And there are tons of hotels, b&b, lodges, hostels in and around the park too.
Good to know
- The park is gigantic. To get around you can book a bus tour or take your car, rent a car, ride your bike of any kind.
- The road is a two lane road and even in off season times it’s crowded. If there’s an animal close to the road, you’re stuck in traffic. People stop to take pictures and nothing moves until park rangers clear up the area. So bring time and patience.
- Grand prismatic spring, that’s the one colorful spring so colorful it can’t be true, is in Yellowstone NP but the line of parked cars outside of the parking lot for the spring is so long that you need to plan for a good hike just from car to spring. Come early, very early in the morning.
- There are no drones allowed over National Parks. Don’t make yourself unhappy by ignoring that.
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