HomeOutdoorsParksYellowstone National Park: Top 10 Things To Know Ahead of Your Summer Visit

Yellowstone National Park: Top 10 Things To Know Ahead of Your Summer Visit

by Jon D. B.
Photo credit: NPS, YELL media release

Take on the best Yellowstone National Park trip possible this summer with the ‘Top 10 Things To Know’ straight from the park.

Over 150 years ago, Yellowstone became America’s first national park. Originally, it was a place of recreation for all to enjoy. But Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres have evolved into so much more.

Today, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife in an intact ecosystem. To explore geothermal areas that contain half the world’s active geysers. To view geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

But this remarkable landscape also demands our respect. We must all be responsible stewards of Yellowstone National Park. To do so, the park has created this video – and full list which you’ll find below – presented by rangers to help visitors “follow the top 10 things to know to enjoy your visit and protect the park today and for the next 150 years!”

Top 10 Things To Know Ahead of Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Summer

1. Buy Your Park Entrance Pass Online

Reservations are not required to enter the park – you just need a park entrance pass. Save time at entrance stations by purchasing your pass online before you arrive. Keep in mind summer is busy, so be prepared for crowds at popular areas and lines at the entrance gates, in construction areas, and at roadside wildlife sightings. Please be patient and enjoy your visit. 

2. Check Road Statuses

Most park roads open in mid-April and close to wheeled vehicles (cars, vans, motorcycles, etc.) in early November. Weather may necessitate closures at any time, however, so check the park roads page for more information. To learn about major road projects and where to expect construction delays and closures, check the road improvement projects page.

3. Always Plan Ahead for Yellowstone National Park

Expect modified food services in the park. Operating hours and service levels can change with little notice. Check the latest information before coming to the park.

To plan your camping or lodging needs ahead of time, also see our Yellowstone National Park Lodging: Campgrounds, Cabins, Securing Reservations in Bridge Bay, Madison and More.

4. Give Wildlife Room

Wild animals are dangerous if you get too close! People have been injured or killed by bears, bison, and elk. Always maintain a minimum of 25 yards (23 m) from all wildlife and 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves. Learn how to watch wildlife safely and travel safely in bear country.

For more information on the wildlife and wildlife safety of Yellowstone, see our Yellowstone National Park Wildlife: Animals You’ll Spot, Where to Best View Bison, Bears, Elk, Wolves, and Wildlife Safety next.

5. Drive and Park Responsibly

Observe posted speed limits and use pullouts to watch wildlife, take pictures, and let other cars pass. Do not stop your vehicle in the road. When pulling over, be sure to park with all four tires fully to the right of the white line. 

6. Stay on Boardwalks

People have been severely injured or killed by breaking through the thin ground in thermal basins or falling into hot springs.

For more crucial safety information for the park, please also see our Yellowstone National Park Safety: Best Practices to Safely Explore the First National Park before you visit the park.

7. Enhance Your Experience

Download the free National Park Service app (and offline content) before you arrive in the park.

Also, check out Outsider’s Yellowstone National Park: Everything You Need to Plan Your Trip from Landmarks and Lodgings to Wildlife and Safety for more ways to “know before you go.”

8. Expect Limited Connectivity Everywhere in Yellowstone National Park

Don’t be surprised if you can’t receive calls or texts, even in the few areas where you might have cell reception

9. Prepare for Weather Changes

Unpredictability characterizes Yellowstone’s weather. Expect big temperature swings, rain, or snow during every month of the year. No matter when you visit, bring appropriate walking shoes, a warm jacket, rain gear, and lots of layers. Check the current weather conditions

10. Commemorate 150 Years of Yellowstone National Park

A variety of virtual and in-person activities will occur in Yellowstone and surrounding gateway communities throughout 2022. Be sure to follow #Yellowstone150 on social media to stay current on commemoration information! 

For more ways to plan a successful trip to Yellowstone, be sure to visit the official NPS site, and see our Yellowstone National Park: Everything You Need to Plan Your Trip from Landmarks and Lodgings to Wildlife and Safety next.