YELLOWSTONE INSIDER: AVOIDING SUMMER CROWDS
With two visits to Yellowstone as your standard vacationers as well as a full summer of residency under our belts, my husband and I know that a trip to Yellowstone can provide just as much frustration with the crowded boardwalks and animal jam filled roads as it can provide awe and wonderment towards the natural wonders contained within its boarders.
We have a deeply rooted love for this place and we want to make sure you can find this love, not frustration, when you make time to visit this magical place. To help get you off on the right foot we will first share our three keys to avoiding the crowds.
AVOID VISITING IN JULY AND AUGUST
In spring most of the park’s visitor hubs are up and running by mid-May, however, the park roadways are nearly vacant. The snow will still have a strong hold on the mountains and, depending on the year, snow may also still be blanketing the meadows.
Take this opportunity to break out the snowshoes, cross-country skis, or even make some backcountry lines before the snow melts and the crowds swell in mid-June. The crowds disappear by mid-September and the rut has the elk bugling and the bison grunting away as the streams fill with spawning trout.
WAKE UP EARLY
If you can’t get away until summer beat the crowds and take advantage of the golden light. The masses don’t descend on the roadside attractions until 10am so if you take advantage of the long summer days you will have knocked Old Faithful off the to-do list and will be parked at a trailhead for your afternoon hike before the busses, RVs, and rental cars fight for a parking spaces at Midway Geyser Basin. The crowds also ease in the early evening as everyone heads to dinner.
TAKE A HIKE
The vast majority of the visitors to the park walk no farther than the end of the boardwalk. Whether you push it up Avalanche Peak to take in mountaintop views, or stroll down DeLacy Creek to sit on the shores of Shoshone Lake—the largest backcountry lake in the country–you will find you can take in the solitude of the wilderness on hikes as short as a mile or so. If you’re into backcountry solitude, grab a backcountry camping permit and head out to the Thoroughfare area of the park, which is the most remote soil in the lower 48.
Photos by Davin and Erica Stitgen. See more of their Yellowstone travels and beyond on their blog, The Show Starts Now.
Up Next: FIELD NOTES FROM HALF DOME