What better way than to spend the 4th of July at the nation's first national park? Or so we thought...honestly for as beautiful as Yellowstone is, for the diverse landscapes all encapsulated under one park, we found it quite touristy and underwhelming.
It was Brandon's first time to the park, my second. It was wonderful to see how the park changed and hasn't changed (can you say the road construction to/from Mammoth Hot Springs?!). We did all of the requisite tourist stops as well as some hiking. We saw a ton of bison (no bears?! I'm starting to think that all of those bear signs are lies) and some elk. And a ton of tourists. Like A TON of tourists.
Get started early and you'll save yourself a LOT of annoyance (not to mention time wasted looking for parking spots). We lucked out on our timing (got to the park at 6am, on to the tourist spots by 8am, and finished exploring by 4pm). Honestly you don't need more than a day here...skip over to the Tetons and you'll have a much more enjoyable experience.
I had two highlights here: seeing how excited Brandon got around wildlife and the iced mocha at the Old Faithful Cafeteria. Seriously worth it.
History of Yellowstone
Yellowstone is the first national park in the US, and was established in 1872! It is theorized that the earliest people settled here around 11,000 years ago - you can still see some of the rock structures standing! Many Native American tribes inhabited the area, although the Tukudika are the ones that are the most well known to have lived in this area. Europeans explored Yellowstone starting in the 1800s and culminated with the first organized expedition in 1870!
Getting There: we chose to drive here from Denver, which clocked in at ~543 miles and ~8.5 hours. You can also fly into Yellowstone Airport (airport code WYS) or Jackson Hole Airport (airport code JAC).
Transportation: you will definitely want a car to be able to explore the park at your own time frame!
Fee: there is a fee to enter the park; you can purchase a single entry pass or, like us, purchase an annual national parks pass.
What to Do
Stop at all of the Pull-Offs - this will give you a great overview of all the main areas in the park
See Old Faithful - we recommend that you grab a seat outside the lodge to avoid crowds; they have benches!
Admire the Wildlife - Yellowstone is teeming with wildlife, and we were so privileged to spend time with a herd of bison in the area.
Disclosure: the styles below contain affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission if you click a link or make a purchase. While clicking these links won't cost you any money, it will help keep this blog running and free of pesky ads! As always, all opinions are our own. Thank you for your support!