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Biggest mistake people make at Yellowstone National Park

Biggest mistake people make at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the United States oldest national park and one of the most well known. The park is often times overrun with tourists and it may always seem like there’s no way for you to compete. Every one is cramming into small spaces and trying to take the same iconic photo. Among all the chaos, many of the tourists are making the same mistakes.

Here are a few of the biggest mistakes tourists make and how to avoid them.

1. Not visiting Grand Teton National Park

Did you know that the two national parks are nearly joined? Grand Teton National Park is no more than a 45-minute drive from the center of Yellowstone National Park. And let me tell you, it’s definitely worth it!

Grand Teton is bordered by mountains and offers clear summit views nearly everywhere in the park. There are also a few lakes that you can relax on, so don’t forget to forget your floaty!

This was my favorite day of our entire 10-day vacation to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks.

2. Not planning ahead for your stay

Many people think you can wing Yellowstone. Just go with the flow. Well, you can, if you understand the basics of the park. For instance, look at the map and know the layout of the park. Don’t try to go from Lamar Valley to Old Faithful in one day. You’ll realize that they are clear across the park from each other and you’ll be spending more time in the car than exploring Yellowstone’s unique, volcanic landscape.

For our trip, we divided the park into four sections. We tackled one section a day. It’s also nice to know about the current park conditions such as road construction and fire warnings.

3. Treating the park as if it’s an amusement park

Too often I hear horror stories about how tourists have been killed or animals have been killed because of tourists. No, the wildlife cannot be touched or petted. This isn’t a petting zoo.

No, the wildlife cannot be touched or petted. This isn’t a petting zoo.

No, you can’t disobey signs that say “stay on the path” or inform you about how to stay safe.

National parks are meant to be a looking glass for tourists into the wilderness. To see the natural wonders and understand why it’s important to conserve Mother Nature. If tourists continue to act like national parks means free for all, the parks will drastically be affected.

For more ways on how to stay safe and continue preserving our national parks, visit

4. Underestimating the number of people

To piggyback off my previous point, not anticipating the high demand in the park can ruin the relaxing vibe of your vacation. Whether it’s competing for campsite (which is completely insane!), the line for photos in front of Old Faithful, or simply the fact that you’ll probably never be alone on a hiking trail, are all things visitors often gloss over. I for one want an authentic experience at national parks. When there are as many people as there would be in a bustling city, the park’s scenery doesn’t awe me. I’m more focused on keeping people out of my bubble and trying not to photobomb other park-goers photos.


These tips just skim the surface. What are some tips you’d give fellow travelers?


8 thoughts on “Biggest mistake people make at Yellowstone National Park”

  • Excellent advice – though I admit we broke #1!! But, in our defense, we didn’t have much time, only being there for a weekend. It is a gorgeous place, and we really loved our visit and hope to return. You are right though, need to set the right expectations!

    • My sister lives the beach so I can relate to exactly what you are saying! At any destination, you should be conscious of the footprint you are leaving. When I walk the beach in the morning looking for shells, I spend most of my time picking up trash. It’s just one small way I can help out!

      Hope you head out west soon! It’s so beautiful out there 🙂

  • Yes! Thank you for this! My husband and I are setting off in our RV, with plans to visit as many national parks as we possibly can, so these tips are super helpful.

    • That sounds exciting! What parks are you hoping to see? Are you mainly going out west? Would love to hear more about your upcoming adventures!

    • You’re welcome! And it’s so great, I definitely would make it part of a NP road trip, that’s always a great time 🙂

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