Yellowstone National Park Travel Hacks

This is an amazing place but can quickly become more of an adventure then you bargained for. These Yellowstone National Park travel hacks will ensure you have the best experience.

National Parks are on your travel list and you’ve narrowed your trip down to Yellowstone National Park. Get excited, here are the major highlights. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-elevation lake in North America. Plan to spend some time on the water. There are sixty-seven mammal species, from massive bison to cute river otters. Get off the roads and walk on the trails, you’ll see more wildlife. Seek out native cultures. Before Yellowstone was designated as a national park twenty-six tribes used its resources.

#1 Yellowstone is the size of a small state.

It is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. So, unless you are on a bus tour or have scheduled a shuttle you will need your own transportation.

#2 Pick a gate. Hint, The East Gate is the Best Gate.

Yellowstone spans three states (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho). The majority of Yellowstone is in Wyoming. That’s right, Wyoming = Yellowstone. Actually 53% of Yellowstone is in Park County, Wyoming. Powell is in Park Country, Wyoming (aren’t we lucky). The gates (entrances) into the Park very in size, landscape and animal activity. BONUS: When you travel to the Park from the East, you get to experience the United States’ first National Forest, Shoshone National Forest. If you are looking often you will see moose, bears, and buffalo before you enter Yellowstone.

#3 Pick a gate community.

Each gate has a town close to it. The South Gate is Jackson, the West Gate is West Yellowstone, the North Gate is Gardiner, the Northeast Gate is Cook City, and the East Gate is Cody. Powell, Wyoming is just 20 miles northeast of Cody and we have two gates that are easily accessible by vehicle, the East Gate and the Northeast Gate. Each of the gate communities are distinct.

#4 Cell service is spotty.

Isn’t this kind of the point of our National Parks? Unplug, unwind, go ahead and take those selfies and send them a little later. Keep a map of the park with you so you don’t get lost. The best places to get cell service are Lake Village, Grant Village, Canyon Village, Old Faithful, West Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner, MT.

#5 Again, Yellowstone is the size of a small USA state.

While there are gas stations in the park they aren’t around every geiser. Fill up your tank before you enter the park. Keep it full.

#6 You are at elevation, in the Park and in the surrounding communities.

Drink water, stay hydrated. You have spent time planning your trip and paying for it. Do you really want to get sick due to dehydration, nah.

#7 The animals are wild.

Not like theme park, well fed, will not approach your jeep wild. The kind of wild that is live or die wild. So, don’t approach the Buffalo…use the zoom instead. The friendly Park Rangers give a pamphlet of what types of animals are in the park and how far away you need to view them. Read it.

#8 Get off the roads. Get into the park.

Hike some trails. Bike some trails. You traveled all the away from your busy city to be in nature. Get in nature. Yellowstone National Park fills your soul in a kind of way that little other places do. Our great President Teddy Roosevelt knew what he was doing when he declared this land to belong to the people.

#9 Bring bear spray. The animals are wild in Yellowstone.

Grizzly bears live in the park. They are meat eaters. Black bears live in the park. They eat lots of plants but also eat meat. If you surprise either kind of bear they may attack you. That is when you pull out your bear spray which is in the holster on your body, per the manufacturer instructions, not in your backpack were you can’t reach it.

#10 Bison do ram cars.

Bison are herd grazing animals. Often they will be to the side of the road or on the road. Mostly they will just keep walking; but, Buffalo are wild animals and you never know!

Not sure about what to bring, where to stay, and what to do in Yellowstone National Park? Ask a local. The Powell Visitor Center is here to help. We love talking about our National Treasure and surrounding region.

#11 Gates open and close for the season. Plan your visit. 

Yellowstone is a wild place located in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It is a mountainous region with high elevations. Roads close during the winter months. And, winter comes early in Yellowstone. When planning this trip of a lifetime first consult the Yellowstone Live Roads Map. This page also outlines gate opening and closing, current road status, and road maintenance projects.

#12 Look good and layer up. 

Packing your suitcase for all types of weather is always a good Yellowstone travel hack. Especially, if you are visiting in spring (May) or fall (September and October). Include a windproof/ water resistant winter coat, hat, and gloves. It will allow you to stay outside longer to enjoy the beautiful views. It is function over fashion here. Bring hiking boots or good walking shoes. Yellowstone is more fun if you get on the designated trails and off the boardwalks.

Looking for more Yellowstone National Park travel hacks? Ask a local the Powell Visitor Center is here to help give us a call or send us an email. We are happy to give you all the inside info.

Rebekah Burns

Visitor Center Coordinator at PEP/ Powell Chamber/ Powell Visitor Center
Rebekah Burns is the Visitor Center Coordinator for PEP/ Powell
Chamber/ Powell Visitor Center. She promotes tourism, champions
Powell's small businesses and communicates community vibrancy.
Volunteering is a big way she gives back to Powell. Rebekah has a Film
Production degree from Towson University. For over 15 years, she has
worked in video production and content creation, creating stories and
crafting messages. As Multimedia Marketing Manager at the first
international video production crewing agency, Rebekah oversaw
external communications including an industry blog, social media,
website development and video podcast channels. Currently, Rebekah
loves exploring the wilds of Wyoming with her sons and husband.
Rebekah Burns