Visiting the United States’ first national park is guaranteed to create memories to last a lifetime. With planning and these eight tips, travelers can enjoy a budget summer vacation in Yellowstone without missing out on the national park experience.
Reserve a Cabin in Yellowstone National Park
Towns outside Yellowstone offer hotels with room rates less expensive than within the park but staying within Yellowstone places you in the center of activity.
Camping is an affordable option but it’s not for everyone. There are nine accommodation facilities within the park either offering hotel rooms or cabins. Old Faithful is the most popular destination with three lodging options, the historic Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge and Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Reserve a room in the Inn with a shared bathroom to save on the travel budget. These rooms are in high demand and if not available, a budget alternative is staying in a cabin at Old Faithful Lodge.
Canyon Lodge & Cabins is popular because it is a centrally located within Yellowstone. Pioneer cabins offer the best value but keep in mind they are simple accommodations. Roosevelt Lodge also offers affordable cabins but most have shared bathrooms.
Book your accommodations early when planning a summer vacation to Yellowstone National Park.
See Yellowstone by Day and Night
Visit popular attractions including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Terraces and Lake Yellowstone. Stop in a visitor center to receive advice on other attractions such as the Norris Geyser Basin, Lamar Valley and Tower Falls. Also, find out which hiking trails are best for you and your skill level.
Don’t forget to explore Yellowstone at night. Look up to see the sea of stars. If visiting during a full moon, watch a geyser erupt, see waterfalls, or walk the Mammoth Terraces in the moonlight. When exploring at night, exercise caution, stay on trails and watch for wildlife.
Join a Yellowstone National Park Ranger
Take advantage of the free programs led by National Park Service rangers. These include hikes and talks and entertain visitors with every interest. Most popular are the evening campfire programs presented at various Yellowstone campgrounds.
Take the Wagon to the Cookout
The park concession company Xanterra Parks & Resorts offers a menu of activities including bicycle rentals (Old Faithful), bus tours, fishing charters, horseback riding and photo expeditions. A popular activity is the Old West Cookout at Roosevelt Lodge which can be enjoyed by wagon or a one or two-hour horseback ride. Save on the travel budget by booking the wagon. If set on a horseback ride, choose the one-hour option.
Eat Lunch in Dining Rooms
Before heading into Yellowstone, stop at a grocery store to purchase a disposable cooler and pick up beverages, breakfast and snack items. Refuel the car before entering the park, too. There are ample dining locations, grocery stores and fueling stations but prices within the park are a bit more expensive than outside. The National Park Service regulates the prices park concessionaires charge and it’s the park’s unique location and level of service which dictates prices.
If planning to eat out, save on the budget by eating lunch in a dining room rather than dinner. The Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Old Faithful Inn dining rooms are popular and worth the visit. Dine in cafeterias and cafes for breakfast and/or dinner. For the best value and retro experience, eat in a General Store diner counter at Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Lake Yellowstone or Old Faithful.
Things are Nice When Packaged
Get the most value from a Yellowstone trip with a vacation package offered through Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Choose from multi-night packages which include overnight lodging, activities, and welcome gift. Vacation packages offer value with pre-planned activities and guaranteed lodging yet offer flexibility. (Tel: (307) 344-7311)
Obey Yellowstone National Park Laws
Avoid unnecessary expenses during a Yellowstone summer vacation by obeying the laws. A speeding ticket or fine for climbing over thermal areas can put a dent in the travel budget. Use common sense and follow the laws to avoid costly fines.
Entrance Fee into Yellowstone National Park
A seven-day entrance permit is $25 for a private vehicle and is valid for entry into Grand Teton National Park. If planning on visiting other national parks within a 12-month period, consider purchasing the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for $80. U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents aged 62 or older can purchase a lifetime Senior Pass for $10 which grants entry into Yellowstone and other federal lands. An Access Pass is a lifetime pass available free of charge to U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents who have a permanent disability.
With some planning, travelers can enjoy a budget summer vacation in Yellowstone without missing out on the national park experience.
Note: Entrance fees and rates are valid at publication date, Nov. 27, 2010.
Yellowstone National Park www.nps.gov/yell
Xanterra Parks & Resorts www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com
United States Geological Survey: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass http://store.usgs.gov/pass
Previous Employment with Xanterra Parks & Resorts