This post sharing things you may not expect from a trip to Yellowstone is part of a series of sponsored posts. Although as usual, all opinions are my own.
When planning my families road trip to Yellowstone National Park, I found a lot of information on what to expect but once we experienced the park for ourselves, we learned that there are lots of things about Yellowstone that you may not expect. Even if you think you know it all, there are a few things that you may not have stumbled upon before visiting the park, no matter how much planning you actually do before traveling.
To help you better plan for your next trip, I am sharing some of the things I learned from our trip to Yellowstone that you will probably not see anywhere else.
While I did read a bit about construction in Yellowstone before heading into the park, I had no idea how much of it was actually going on and really didn’t expect to see it on the main roads, blocking traffic completely. What you may not expect is how much this will affect your travel time when driving through Yellowstone.
A lot of the construction is happening on the only road through some areas and when you hit one of these spots, you have no option but to wait. There is no chance at driving around the construction, at times we were parked in a line of cars for hours before moving very slowly to the next construction zone, to wait some more. When planning your route through the park you may be able to avoid some of the construction zones all together but if you want to see everything there is no way around and you will have to plan for these kinds of delays during the work.
Obviously, a National Park like Yellowstone is going to be busy, I expected that but the crowds are so bad that the lines outside of some of the parks more popular attractions are hours long.
In order to get anywhere near Old Faithful, you have to get off the main path and sit in long lines of traffic before ever reaching the overcrowded parking lot. Once in the parking lot, you are most likely going to be waiting in lines for a good twenty to thirty minutes before parking.
It seems the majority of people head to this location just so they can say that they have been to Old Faithful, not because it is such an impressive geyser. There are many other geysers at Yellowstone, there are more geysers in Yellowstone than anywhere else on earth.
If you asked enough people that have visited Yellowstone, the overwhelming response would be that there are far more impressive geysers than Old Faithful, without all of the crowds.
People Breaking the Rules
When I took that picture above, I thought that it could possibly be the last known picture of this group of adventure-seeking photographers. With the kind of survival instincts that this brilliant bunch is packing, it couldn’t be long before they met their demise in a no doubt camera-worthy way so it’s good that they brought along that selfie stick.
They actually parked about ten feet from a sign that warns everyone at Yellowstone about the dangers of wildlife. Apparently, they didn’t read that sign, they just spotted a giant buffalo, had a thought about all of the amazing places that they could post their “experience” photo and got in selfie stick deep.
Most people at some point or another have heard about the famous fires at Yellowstone, but you may not expect to actually see so much damage when driving through. Apparently that Smokey Bear wasn’t overreacting, people need to be more careful! It’s amazing how one small action can affect an area so large, miles and miles away from where the source of the problem even occurred. The size of the area that is damaged from fire is heartbreaking.
As we traveled through miles and miles of black trees towering over ash-covered grounds, I couldn’t help but think of the wildlife affected by the fires, how many died and lost their homes because of people, the same ones standing in my freaking way at Old Faithful. You also may not have known that people actually account for more than half of the fires in Yellowstone while lightning is another leading cause.
West Yellowstone, Montana
I have always imagined Montana as a place with nothing but wildlife, trees, and a clean terrain full of bright green foliage to see. I never expected a touristy area with carny like people running the local establishments but that is just me and my usual positivity putting a polite spin on things there. The local food establishments including the fast-food joints triple their prices. Now, this isn’t too uncommon for a high tourist traffic area but the quality wasn’t there and the staff made me wish that I wasn’t there either. There was one exception to the littered surroundings that was such a welcome sight for us, our hotel.
It is amazing how many beautiful things are just within minutes of West Yellowstone, Montana. Waterfalls, wildlife, geysers, and what seems like never-ending forests are right on the other side of this touristy town.
The Best Hotel Around
When traveling as much as we did on this trip, the most important part of your journey is the hotel you stay at. You have to be comfortable and enjoy the place that you recharge with your family. We were super lucky because we stayed at the Best Western Desert Inn in West Yellowstone, Montana.
I don’t know if I have ever been happier to get to my room while on vacation. We were so exhausted from the trip through the park and wanted to relax in bed while watching some television as a family, it was a great way to end our fun-filled day.
It was one of those nights where we were just so excited to get into bed and watch a show. It was kind of nice to be able to spend some time indoors after such a busy day at Yellowstone and this was the best place we could have done that.
I loved the decor and big comfy couches in the lobby. My husband really liked one of the lamps by our room, it was a sculpture of a hunter falling asleep while a big bull elk gets away, classic.
Personally, I enjoyed the bed most. It was comfortable and warm, plenty of spare sheets, and a nice strong blast from the air conditioner to lull me to sleep. In fact, it may have been some of the best sleep I have ever had, dreaming of all of the fun we experienced while at Yellowstone.
Lots of Poop
Well, where else do you think these animals are going to go? Buffalo especially poop a lot or maybe it is more noticeable because of it’s size, it’s giant, which takes up a lot of space.
I have always heard that is was good luck to step in it so I wouldn’t worry too much but I thought I would mention it since it was something that I never really thought about before visiting Yellowstone.
My husband has a size 14 shoe and offered to take this picture so you can get a pretty good idea of the size of this random dung we stumbled upon, it’s scattered throughout the park, perfect for a scat-venger hunt. See what I did there?
People Live inside of the Park
It makes sense once you really start to think about it, the waitresses, chefs, gas station attendants, hotel staff, and the list can go on, actually live right inside of the park. After talking with a park resident it became clear that in order to work at Yellowstone, deep inside of the park, you wouldn’t really have much travel time to get in and out before it was time to head back, this is especially true when there are real-life roadblocks in the form of bison who refuse to get out the way.
Just think of the mountains and lakes you would have to drive by each day to get out of the park even without the delay of unpredictable wildlife. It would take way too long to get home each night.
Some of the restaurant staff lives above the restaurant while others live in campers nearby. This is definitely the most interesting thing I learned while visiting Yellowstone and it makes me wonder, could I live inside Yellowstone?
Do you think that you could live inside Yellowstone National Park?