What can people do while visiting Yellowstone National Park? You’re Ultimate Guide

What can people do while visiting Yellowstone National Park

Finally, you have planned a vacation. Deciding among the various places in the US to experience the outdoors? As cliché as it may sound, after spending 25 years exploring every state in the US, I’d pick Yellowstone!

Yellowstone national park is the first and oldest national park in the United States. It is of exceptional natural beauty, geysers, canyons, warm waters, hot springs and abundant wildlife.  

And if you’re planning a trip, we have some ideas for what you can do while exploring this area’s natural splendor (and wildlife).

In this article, I have tried to build a compelling case as to why I think you need to pack your essentials and head to Yellowstone, right away!

When to visit Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone national park is known to be one of the most amazing places on earth. With stunning raw beauty and a landscape that varies greatly over short distances. The most popular times to visit Yellowstone are during Summer and Fall, but this means that crowds will be high as well. Winter and Spring have a much lower number of visitors, but still have great weather for exploring the park.

Yellowstone when to visit

Visitors can come to Yellowstone year-round, but there are some times when the park is busier than others.

Summer: The park is open all year, but summer is its busiest time. The average temperature in July and August is 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius), and visitors tend to come at this time of year for the waterfalls and other activities available only during warmer months. Summer is also when most of the park’s wildlife migrates from lower elevations to higher ones for better food sources or to escape the heat.

Fall: Autumn brings fewer crowds than summer does, but you’ll still want to avoid weekends and holidays if you want peace and quiet. The average temperature in September and October is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) — perfect weather for hiking or exploring without sweating too much.

Winter: Wintertime can be a magical time at Yellowstone National Park, with snow covering everything in sight and reducing visitor numbers by as much as half compared with peak season (July). However, it can also be dangerous — roads become impassable due to snowfall or ice patches, and animals are less active during this season due to cold temperatures.

Tour the park by car.

Yellowstone by car

The main way to see Yellowstone National Park is by car. There are many scenic drives that you can take, allowing you to stop at viewpoints, visitor centers and picnic areas. You may even want to stay overnight at one of the lodges within the park.

Hike through the park’s nature trails.

Hiking is an excellent way to see the park. There are many different trails on which you can hike and explore Yellowstone National Park. Some of these trails are easy, and some of them are more challenging. The hiking trails range from short nature walks to longer backpacking trips through remote areas of the park.

Yellowstone hiking

Some trails allow horses, and some don’t, so it’s important to check before planning your trip. If you’re bringing a bike or a dog along with you on your hike, keep in mind that some trails do not permit bicycles or dogs (or both!)

Attend a ranger talk

Ranger talks are a great way to learn about Yellowstone. Park rangers are very knowledgeable about the park and its history and will give you a lot of information that you may not be able to find anywhere else. Ranger talks are free, so it’s worth checking out one or two if you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park for a few days.

Yellowstone hiking 1

Ranger talks are usually held in the evenings, so if you’re planning on attending one make sure to bring your sunglasses so that they don’t get damaged from the sun reflecting off of them!

Go wildlife watching

One of the best ways to experience Yellowstone is by taking in all the animals that call it home. In addition to the iconic grizzlies and wolves, you can see bison, elk, river otters and many other species roaming free in this natural habitat. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during calving season (May-July), you might even see newborn calves making their way out onto their first day of life!

Yellowstone is one of the most popular parks in the world. It’s also home to some of the best wildlife you’ll find anywhere on Earth, from moose and bison to elk and wolves. If you’re lucky, you may even see a mule deer or two! Here are some animals that make up Yellowstone’s diverse ecosystem.


The enormous bison are the largest land mammal in Yellowstone National Park. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Bison are often seen grazing on grasses, sedges, forbs and shrubs in open meadows or wooded areas.

Yellowstone bison

While many people think of them as dangerous animals to be avoided at all costs, you may be surprised to learn that attacks by bison on humans are very rare. In fact they pose less danger than bears or wolves!


The moose is a large, dark brown mammal that likes to live in forests and meadows. It can be up to 1.5 meters tall (about 5 feet) at the shoulders and has long legs with hooves instead of feet. The male moose is called a bull and the female moose is called a cow.

Yellowstone hiking 2

The Yellowstone National Park area where you can see these giant animals includes several different ecosystems: grasslands, forests, swamps, rivers and lakes—and each ecosystem has its own set of animals living there!

Grizzly bears

The grizzly bear is the largest mammal in Yellowstone National Park. The average male weighs around 500 pounds, but some can reach up to 800 pounds. Grizzlies are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. They have a varied diet that includes grasses, roots, berries and nuts—in fact bears may go several days without eating at all! When food is scarce they will consume insects or scavenge carrion (flesh from dead animals).

Yellowstone hiking 3

Bears are shy creatures and generally avoid people when possible—but sometimes you might want to be cautious about where you go for a hike so as not to get too close! If you do see one, keep dogs on leashes so they don’t run off after it; also stay calm if there are children with you: these can provoke an attacking grizzly bear into going after them instead of running away from your group!


Elk are the most common and largest of the antlered animals in Yellowstone. They can be seen by day or night, from a distance or up close. While elk are not aggressive or dangerous when approached by people, they do pose an obvious danger to themselves if you get too close to them. The animals are large and quick on their feet, so keep your distance while you’re observing them!

Yellowstone elk

The best way to view elk is by using binoculars and spotting scopes (the kind used at sporting events). If you try this method, stay far enough away that you can still get a good look at the animal without it noticing your presence—a good rule of thumb is 30 yards (29 meters) away. If an animal notices that it’s being watched, it may become nervous and run off before returning its attention back into your direction again later on downwind


Pronghorn, also known as pronghorns, are the fastest land mammals in North America. They can run at speeds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h) and jump over fences as high as 6 feet (2 meters). Pronghorn have been known to live in groups of up to 30 animals.

Yellowstone elk 700 × 200

Pronghorn have a wide range of habitat preferences, from desert flats to mountain meadows; they prefer open areas with short grasses and shrubs for grazing, but at times will use rocky slopes or riparian areas for cover.


Wolves are an important part of Yellowstone’s ecosystem. They are apex predators, meaning they have no predators of their own, and their health is an indicator of the overall health of the park. They also tend to be extremely intelligent animals and can live in packs; wolves are social animals who rely on cooperation with each other to hunt for food and raise younglings.

yellowstone wolves

However, many people fear wolves because they look intimidating or appear to be aggressive towards them when humans enter their territory. This is not true! Most wolf attacks on humans occur when a person is trying to kill a wolf or hunt it down with dogs (the same goes for bears).

In fact, most incidents involving aggressive behavior by wolves involve sick or injured animals that may feel threatened or cornered. In general, wild wolves do not see us as prey and will avoid us unless we approach them first (which we should never do) or get between an adult pair during mating season (also something we should avoid doing).

The ever-popular mule deer

Mule deer are the most abundant large mammal in Yellowstone National Park. They can be seen throughout much of the park during all seasons and at all elevations. Mule deer are very adaptable, so they thrive in a variety of habitats, including meadows, valleys, and forests. They are also found on rocky slopes above timberline where there is little vegetation for food but lots of cover to hide from predators.

yellowstone mule deer

Mule Deer prefer areas with plenty of shrubs or other ground-hugging plants to feed on because those are the places where they are less likely to become prey themselves; their adaptations include white facial markings that blend well with snow (so predators cannot see them easily), eyes that stay open when running so as not to lose sight of predators while fleeing (this means they have trouble sleeping), two pairs of incisor teeth instead one pair like white-tailed deer do which helps them chew through tough plant stems when browsing rather than just nibbling off leaves as white-tails tend too do more often due to having fewer teeth available for chewing

Yellowstone is a wildlife paradise with all these animals

Yellowstone is a wildlife paradise with all these animals, but you must be careful. The park is home to the bison, elk and moose (giant deer). Grizzly bears are also present in the area, so be aware of your surroundings! If you’re traveling by car, make sure to pull over if you see an animal crossing the road.

Yellowstone National Park has many types of wolves: red wolves and grey wolves can both be found here as well as several other species of canines like coyotes and foxes. Don’t forget about your own pet dog – they must remain on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times outside of campgrounds when inside Yellowstone National Park boundaries so that they don’t bother other visitors or hurt themselves while trying to chase after wild animals living nearby!

Many different kinds birds live here too including bald eagles which fly overhead sometimes during their migratory season from Canada down south towards Mexico where they nest each winter before returning back up north again next Springtime so keep an eye out for those flying high overhead if ever happen across one during yours travels through Yellowstone National Park’s territory!

Explore in a canoe, kayak or raft

One of the best ways to see Yellowstone is by exploring the park’s many lakes and rivers. If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park and want a truly memorable experience, rent a canoe or kayak from a local outfitter. The lake and river waters are beautiful, and there are plenty of places to explore within the park boundaries. There are also numerous areas that aren’t easily accessible by car where visitors can hike around or stop for lunch.

yellowstone canoe

A great way to enjoy Yellowstone Lake is from your own canoe or kayak, but be sure not to bring food with you because it’ll attract wildlife! To prevent this problem, we suggest packing your lunch in waterproof containers before heading out on your adventure — this way nothing will go bad if water splashes inside them during an unexpected dip in one of the park’s many bodies of water!

yellowstone raft

If you prefer paddling through rapids rather than just floating peacefully across smooth waves at dawn or dusk (which we highly recommend), then consider renting an inflatable raft instead because these boats will help keep everyone safe even if they tip over halfway across Snake River Canyon Bridge at mile marker 51 near its highest point above ground level—it’s worth noting though that nobody ever has fallen off since its construction began thirty years ago due both safety measures taken by its designers as well as good judgment exercised by those who cross while being careful not step onto anything slippery such as rocks next time they visit!

Visit a historic lodge

Lodges are an excellent way to enjoy the park. Most of them have restaurants, bars and gift shops so you can relax before heading back out into the wilderness. They also offer a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world who are visiting Yellowstone National Park at the same time as you.

Yellowstone National Park is justifiably famous for its geysers, canyons and grizzly bears. But there’s another reason to visit: a historic lodge that feels like a step back in time.

The Old Faithful Inn was built by the US Army in 1904 as a base camp for the men who built the road into Yellowstone National Park. It was designed by architect Robert Reamer, who was also behind the Old Faithful Inn on the other side of Yellowstone Lake.

yellowstone historic lodges 1

Reamer’s design incorporated elements of other lodges around Yellowstone, including rustic cabins, gabled roofs and stone fireplaces. It’s since been modified for comfort (it now has electricity and running water) but still maintains its rustic charm with wooden beams and rough-hewn log walls.

The Lake Hotel was built in 1913 by local businessmen who wanted to attract wealthy tourists from nearby cities like Salt Lake City and Denver. Before becoming a hotel, it served as a way station between Yellowstone’s northern entrance and its southern entrance where guests could rest before continuing their journey north or south through Yellowstone National Park.

yellowstone historic lodges 3

The historic lodge at Lake Yellowstone is the oldest hotel in Yellowstone National Park, and one of its most beautiful. The lodge was built by the Northern Pacific Railroad, which ran trains through Yellowstone from 1883 to 1912. The hotel was built in 1891 and expanded several times over the years. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

yellowstone historic lodges 2

The 45-room inn was built in 1891 by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The railroad was built through Montana, Idaho and Wyoming during the 1880s, and visitors to Yellowstone had to either hike or ride horseback from Gardiner, Montana, which was located just outside the park boundary. In 1889 Congress authorized construction of a road from Gardiner into Yellowstone.

The hotel was constructed between 1888 and 1891 by Northern Pacific Railroad as part of their effort to promote tourism within their newly acquired land. The original structure included 45 rooms with steam heat and running water, plus a dining room capable of feeding 200 guests at once.

Seek out breathtaking vistas

Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty. Whether you’re visiting the park for a day or a week, there are plenty of things to do to make it an unforgettable experience.

Visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. One of the most spectacular things to see in Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Canyon, which is formed by the Yellowstone River as it flows through Hayden Valley. The view from this canyon provides a breathtaking panorama of mountains, waterfalls and forests.

Visit Yellowstone Falls. Another great place to visit when visiting Yellowstone National Park is the Upper Geyser Basin where you can see an array of colorful hot springs including Artist Paint Pots, Biscuit Basin and Sapphire Pool (pictured below).

Visit the Lower Falls on Firehole River near Madison Junction or climb to Inspiration Point above them for even more spectacular views!

The Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces are another must-see in Yellowstone. These colorful travertine terraces were formed by flowing water over a period of thousands of years and are now home to several types of wildlife including elk, bison, bears and wolves.

You’ll find plenty more activities at Yellowstone too: hiking, horseback riding, boating, camping and fishing are just some of them!


There are a lot of things to do at Yellowstone National Park. You can drive through the park, hike on trails and take in the scenery by bike or boat. There is also plenty of wildlife to see, including grizzly bears if you’re lucky enough!

You can also dive into the historic significance of the various lodges at Yellowstone or just pick among the amazing natural vistas this park has on offer! 

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