Planning a trip to Yellowstone from Idaho as the park turns 150
BOISE, Idaho — Yellowstone National Park is America’s first park, and this year this geological wonder celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Yellowstone remains one of the most popular destinations in the country due to its diverse wildlife, all of its thermal features, and awe-inspiring scenery.
Idaho News 6 reporter Steve Dent explains how to plan a trip to the park from Idaho:
I had the opportunity to grow up in Bozeman, Montana, 90 miles north of the park. So I have visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton a dozen times.
I would recommend entering the parks through the south entrance, which gives people a last minute stop for accommodation in the tourist town of Jackson, Wyoming, there are several places to camp in this area, whitewater rafting adventures on the Snake River and lots of historic places to visit in Jackson.
This means that people will enter Teton National Park before Yellowstone, but even though these parks are separate, every trip to this area must include both parks.
The majestic Tetons mountain ranges are a sight to behold and people could easily spend a week here hiking, visiting alpine lakes and hunting for wildlife, but for the sake of this story, we’ll continue.
Entering through the South Entrance, people will pass cascading waterfalls, lakes, and the Continental Divide until they reach West Thumb. From there, the park turns into a figure eight that takes several days to explore.
The first tip for visiting Yellowstone National Park is to book accommodation before the trip. Campgrounds are always full, cancellations are always possible but don’t be fooled because if you have to snag a last minute hotel in one of the surrounding towns it will hurt the bank account.
“For visitors who come to Yellowstone, we ask them to plan ahead, we know people know how many visitors come to Yellowstone because it’s so popular,” said Morgan Warthin of Yellowstone National Park.
Must-see stops in Yellowstone include the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Madison Junction geyser pools in Old Faithful, the most popular area.
This area includes the Firehole River Canyon Drive, Grand Prismatic Spring, and central Yellowstone at Old Faithful Geyser.
“I’m actually on the balcony of the Old Faithful Inn and around the inn are geysers, hot springs and mud pools,” Warthin said. “Visitors who come to this area can expect to see a visitor center, they can expect to see Old Faithful leaving every 70 to 90 minutes.”
Yellowstone is also known for its wildlife and some popular areas to see bison include Hayden Valley, Lamar Valley is your best chance to see wolves. The area where I saw the most bears is on the road from Tower Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs.
It is important to remember that bears, wolves, elk, bison, deer and antelope are all wild animals. For your safety and theirs it is important to keep your distance when trying to take a photo, also be prepared for traffic jams caused by animals.
“We ask visitors to be mindful, to be stewards of this park to protect and preserve it for future generations,” Warthin said.
June, July, and August are the busiest months for Yellowstone, with the park setting attendance records for most visitors in a month in July. To avoid the crowds, try to go one more month, but if that’s not possible, getting up early is the best way to avoid getting caught in the long queues.
The other entrance suitable for Idahoans is the west entrance in West Yellowstone, it doesn’t have as many amenities as Jackson, but it is a unique area.
People can visit Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, go to two state parks in Idaho, and Island Park has the longest main street in the country and all of these places are in Idaho.