Filed under: Campgrounds & RV Parks, RV Campgrounds, State & National Parks
RVing in Yellowstone
This past month I took one of the most traditional of all road trips to Yellowstone National Park. As fate would have it, my RV would break down in West Yellowstone. Hence, I got an extended journey and learned many of the do’s and don’ts of visiting Yellowstone in an RV.
When to Go
With nothing else to do while the RV was being repaired I began peppering my mechanic with a number of different questions about the park. I was amazed to learn that most of the park didn’t actually open until the end of April. At that point, though, the park is still “melting” and cold. The rivers are running 3x the height of their summer levels and much of the park still has snow on the ground. Around Memorial day the park becomes a free-for-all of foreign tourism and thousands of visitors pile in. On the late July day I was there, the lines at the entrance gate backed up for several miles. Visitors drop off amazingly fast during the third week of August. With kids going back to school our mechanic describe it as several weeks of “famine” until the later part of September when older couples start to visit. By mid October the chill begins to fall again and most of the park closes in early November
My Recommendation: Aim for Early September.
Managing the Park with an RV
While most of the main roads are easily navigable with an RV, make sure you gas up before going in. There are only a few gas stations in the park and while we were easily able to fill up at Old Faithful in our RV it left a nice hole in our wallets. One thing we did notice is that the northern roads were a bit tighter to manage with a large RV and many of the “off shoot” loop routes that contain many of the hidden gems of the park were inaccessible to RV’s (although foreigners in rented RV’s seemed to miss that on occasion). With our RV in the shop, we discovered that there were several very affordable car rental places in town. We did our second loop of the park this way and found that we got a lot more out of it.Yellowstone is a pullover at the side of the road and “look” sort of place and its much harder to do that in a trailer.
My Recommendation: Rent a Car at one of the two car rental places within walking distance of Yellowstone Grizzly RV park.
Places to Visit in the Park
Having driven through Yellowstone many times I have my favorite places to visit. In the north towards Gallatin and the Mammoth Hot Springs the area has an ambiance and view that it hard to match. From prairies full of buffalo and elk to the waterfall filled canyons, the area has a feeling so natural you almost forget the tourists you are with. In the middle of the park you can get your fill of geysers, hot pots, and other geological formations around old faithful. A good pair of shoes, a hat and sunglasses are highly recommended. Finally, it you are looking for views from the RV it’s highly recommended that you travel out the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park.
My Recommendation for RVers: Old Faithful and the Grand Tetons
Where to Stay
While we stayed at several different RV parks on our journey, the one we liked the most was Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone. With nicely manicured lawns and within walking distance of the main downtown area, you could see why this park gets such high ratings. We’d recommend this park to anyone. It’s a convenient drive to most of the major areas of the park and has tons of restaurants and other attractions for you to see close by.
No matter when you go to Yellowstone you’ll see a lot of RV’s. As one of the top national parks in the nation it is a common vacation stop for many on their summer road trips.