Yellowstone Vacation Tips
Breathtaking is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of Yellowstone National Park. In a way that is beyond my ability to fully describe, visting Yellowstone is rather like spending time in a dream. Although I am a Wyoming native and only live about four hours from the park, I must admit it has been probably twenty years or so since I had last paid a visit to this magical place. This year though, my husband and I made up our minds to take our kids camping in Yellowstone.
Because our budget was very limited, we opted for a tent and sleeping bags instead of a hotel room. This is my first tip, if you are planning on visiting Yellowstone this summer, and are not into the camping thing, book early! However if the budget doesn't allow for a motel room and you don't own an RV, you might want to give tent camping a try. I am not really a "roughing it" kind of girl, but with a few preparations, it is possible to be reasonable comfortable in a tent. There are many products of the market today, that make roughing it, not so rough. I would seriously recommend buying a quality air mattress. We bought our air mattress at Wal-Mart for around $50.00, and it was money well spent. My husband and I were both surprised at how comfortably we slept on our air mattress.
We stayed at the Madison Arms Resort, which is located just outside of West Yellowstone, this cozy campground is similar to a KOA. They have showers and laundry facilities, there is also a little store for all those items which can so easliy be forgotten. Now, just to be fair, being a Wyoming girl, I must admit that the town of West Yellowstone is in Montana, not Wyoming. However, even though I was "cheating" on my home state just a bit. This little resort offered us the best of both worlds, we had a taste of the wild, which satisified the kids and we had some comforts, which satisfied the adults. We had our own a fire pit and picnic table, not to mention a beautiful view of the lake. The best part for us, as we were traveling with three kids, had to be the swimming area, which was right behind our tent. The kids had so much fun, after a long day of exploring the park, they would all go for a quick dip before supper.
Next, let me give you some advice on Wyoming weather, which is unpredible at best. When you get up into the mountains, be prepared for anything. It can go from a balmy 80 degrees to a very chilly 30 degrees in no time flat. Plus it does rain quite a bit in the park in the summer, so be prepared. We have a saying here in Wyoming that rings very true for the mountain areas. "If you don't like the weather in Wyoming, wait five minutes, it will change." So come prepared for a variety of climate changes. Also, it is also very cold at night,even in July and August, so if you are tent camping, bring something warm to sleep in, and a good sleeping bag.
This next tip has to do with the animals. Please understand that these are wild animals. The picture of the bison we took was right out of car window. Please note we stayed in the car! According to the park literture we were given, more people are hurt by bison, than by bears every year. Also speaking of bears, when you visit Yellowstone, be bear aware. Pay attention to the literature you are given when first enter the park, and stay safe. .
As I mentioned before, we were on a very tight budget, yet this didn't stop us from having a fabulous time. We didn't eat out, instead we filled up the cooler with sandwich stuff and cooked on the campfire at night. It really was a good time. So my next tip is a simple camp recipe. My kids all loved this one and it is very simple.
All you do is take some bananas and cut a slit down the middle. Leave the peels on. Inside the slit, place a cut up Snickers bars. I found that three small fun size work just right. Then wrap in each banana in a foil packet. Cook the packet right on your campfire grate for about ten minutes. Top with whipped topping and enjoy!
I have two more suggestions for those who may be heading to Wyoming for a summer adventure. If you get the chance, stop at The Grizzly Discovery Center in the town of West Yellowstone. There is an admission fee, but it is very reasonable. There you will see grizzlies, wolves, and many different types of birds, including a bald eagle. Many of the animals in the center, have either been hurt or have had their parents killed when they were young and are not able to survive in the wild. So they have been brought to this center. It was very fun and educational expereince and a certainly a worthwhile cause, so please stop if you have the chance.
Last, but not least, for those on a budget. Yellowstone has several museums and visitors centers, that are packed full of fun and interesting things to see, and they are free of charge. My favorite centers were at Mammoth Hot Springs and Fishing Bridge. However the biggest of the visitor centers is the one at Old Faithful, and that famous geyser, is of course a must see on your trip!!