I am going to lay it all out for you in this blog post. Yellowstone is absolutely mind-blowing and is a definite MUST-SEE. BUT, there are a few things to consider when you’re heading to the park.
- You cannot see all of Yellowstone National Park in a single day.
- You’ll spend a lot of time driving in Yellowstone National Park.
- Take a picnic basket, a blanket and some chairs.
- Encourage the kids to check-off things they’ve seen (animals, landmarks, etc).
- Yellowstone is full of learning experiences.
- Yellowstone is a volcano. The floor is literally lava.
- Research the Places You Want to See in Yellowstone Before You Go.
Keeping in mind that most of you reading this are heading into the park with kids, this list is 100% written around keeping you sane and your kids interested as you explore the park.
There is a lot of driving. There is a lot of tree. tree. tree. rock. tree. rock. boiling geyser spitting sulfur water that smells like boy farts into the air. tree. deer. rock. waterfall. boiling rainbow colored pool. rock. bison.
With that said, let’s get to the point.
1. You cannot see all of Yellowstone National Park in a single day.
Not even close. The drive around the entire park alone is several hours. Add in time to actually get out and see everything, potty breaks, lunch, etc and the schedule is rather tight. I recommend three days AT A MINIMUM. Not joking. If you want to see all the park has to offer, it is what it is. If you want to REALLY see it all, expect AT LEAST a week.
2. Yellowstone National Park is ENORMOUS (You’ll be driving…).
If you’re traveling this park with kids, you have to know that there is a drive from location to location. If you’re like us, having done the park twice with four kids, pacing yourself also means a lot longer day.
Unlike some parks (Yosemite, to name one) where you can park and walk the loop and see SO much without getting back in the car for a while, Yellowstone is not that place. You will need to get back in the car as you travel from landmark to landmark.
3. Take a picnic basket, a blanket and some chairs.
If you’re traveling with kids, there’s one thing you need to know about Yellowstone – TAKE FOOD.
There are many picnic areas and the lines at the food stops were LONG. Pack a lunch, take snacks, bring along your favorite picnic blanket, chairs or even your hammock for some time outside of the car and away from the crowds. One of our favorite spots is on the East side of Yellowstone. Gulf Point Drive is a little loop that goes off of the Grand Loop Road. It has several spots to pull over and picnic, set up your hammock and enjoy the lake view without all of the traffic (and it’s surprisingly quiet back in there compared to other spots).
4. Encourage the kids to check-off things they’ve seen (animals, landmarks, etc).
Yellowstone provides an animal checklist at the gate, so be sure to ask for one for each kiddo as you go through. Our kiddos also loved following along with the map.
If you’re on a National Park trip, guides like this printable on Etsy are an amazing way to keep track of the parks you’ve went to as a family.
5. Yellowstone is full of learning experiences.
If you’re into having your kiddos journal, opportunities are HUGE with Yellowstone. Between the maps, the wildlife checklists, the research to be done about Yellowstone’s supervolcano – there’s just SO much opportunity for learning.
6. Yellowstone is a volcano. The floor is literally lava.
Yellowstone is a super volcano and every kid loves the floor is lava right now.
Want to get your kids in the car faster? LAVA!!
Okay, maybe not if your kiddo takes everything seriously. BUT, it is a fun little bit of information if your kids are geeks like mine and totally LOVE that they’re literally sitting on top of a volcano.
The Yellowstone map (again, given for free when you enter), shows the Yellowstone Caldera. The one below shows the caldera without all of the other items on the map.
You have to look hard to see it because it’s just a slight discoloration, but once you see that you’re literally driving all over it while hot stuff bubbles, steam, boils and shoots everywhere…