The world’s first national park, established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park draws 3 million visitors per year. The park covers 3,467 square miles overlapping into three states, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. When traveling within the park visitors will often catch glimpses of bison, antelope, moose, grizzly bears and even the elusive wolf. Rugged wilderness abounds but the park also contains 10,000 hydrothermal features and 300 geysers. Trails and boardwalks wind along bubbling mudpots and brilliantly colored hot springs.
From May 1st into November the lodges and accommodations around the park book up quickly. The lodges within the park begin taking reservations January 1st. Backcountry campsite reservations can be booked April 1st. Reserve as early as possible because the demand always exceeds the availability, according to the Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Office. Plan ample time to reach the lodging destination when making reservations. Expect road delays due to wide spread road work which is ongoing within the park and often slows down motorists.
Prior to camping within Yellowstone National Park contact Yellowstone’s Backcountry Office to learn about campground closures, reservations and rules. Avoid packing odorous foods, soaps or deodorants which may attract bears, according to the National Park Service. Never leave food unattended in a campsite. Always utilize the food poles in the backcountry campsites to hang food and other supplies out of reach of wildlife. Change clothes daily when camping to lower any scents that may attract bears. Avoid sleeping in the same clothes used during cooking. Pitch tents and camp at least 100 yard away from the cooking area or where any food is being kept.
Women must be especially careful when traveling in Yellowstone National Park during menstruation. When hiking, wildlife viewing and camping within the park women should only use internal tampons and avoid sanitary pads which can easily attract the unwanted attentions of bears. Use moist toilette’s to clean and reduce unwanted odor. Always double bag tampons in two plastic ziploc bags and dispose of the bag within the garbage away from the camp, according to the National Park Service.
From mid-December to mid-March the park comes alive with snowmobile and snowcoach traffic. Roads are closed to motor vehicles but groomed and maintained for oversnow vehicles. Visitors within the park during the winter months must ride in a snowcoach or have a professional guide accompany them while snowmobiling. All snowcoach operators are designated by the park and only park licensed snowmobile guides are permitted within the park The Yellowstone National Park Service Visitors Center will be able to direct visitors to an officially licensed snowcoach or snowmobile guide service. Dress accordingly because the weather in the park is unpredictable. Dress in layers, wear sunglasses and use ample sunscreen.
The best time to view abundant wildlife within the park is early morning or late evening when they are moving around and feeding. Visitors centers within the park can offer advice on where to best view the animals depending on the season.
When viewing wildlife always maintain a safe distance. Females with young tend to be especially dangerous during the spring and early summer months. Visitors suffer injuries each year from approaching wildlife to closely, according to the Yellowstone National Park Service. Coming within 100 yards of moose and bears is strictly prohibited within the park. Always utilize binoculars when viewing wildlife instead of physically approaching them. Never feed wildlife in Yellowstone.The practice is unlawful within the park.
National Geographic Traveler: Yellowstone National Park TravelWise [http://www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/tw/0109/yellowstone.html]
National Park Service: Yellowstone [http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm]
Park Vision: Yellowstone National Park [http://www.shannontech.com/ParkVision/Yellowstone/Yellowstone.html]
National Park Service: Bears and Menstruating Women [http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/bears_women.htm]
National Park Service: Viewing Wildlife in Yellowstone [http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/viewanim.htm]