The third National Park on our 2019 National Parks trip was Yellowstone. What an amazing place! It lived up to its reputation. We had a great experience at this National Park. There is so much to see here, you could stay here for a week and still not see everything. It is America’s oldest National Park. I would have to say it ranks in my top two for most majestic National Parks I have seen (this is the 28th we have visited as a family). Yosemite is the other one that ranks up there with Yellowstone.

We spent two full days at Yellowstone. We camped three nights at the best campground we have ever experienced. I highly recommend this location, if you can get one of their lakeside premium spots. The other spots in the park are fine, but the lakeside premium are incredible! The views from our camper were lake and mountains, with no other campground or civilization to be seen. It was breathtaking. Our kids were able to kayak right from the shore of our campsite. The morning waters were still and looked like glass. The temperatures here were perfect in July. It got up to the mid seventies each day. Night time temperatures dropped down to the mid-thirties. We had our fireplace on at night. It was lovely for July camping. I hope we can return to camp here again in the future. I recommend booking well in advance. I imagine the lakeside sites go fast! I booked this campsite in December for our July camping trip. I had called a full year in advance, but they said they weren’t booking yet. They told me to call back in December. It is a privately-owned campground and the couple who own it are sweet, kind, and welcoming. They helped make our camping experience positively five out of five stars. They also have laundry facilities and a camp store. It was a perfect location for our Yellowstone experience. To book at Yellowstone Holiday RV Campground check out their website:

We were not far from the Yellowstone West Entrance. It was less than 15 minutes to get to Yellowstone from the campground. As you drive to the Yellowstone West Entrance you will pass though the town of West Yellowstone. This is a great place to stop to eat and shop. They have a neat, quaint downtown that has numerous restaurants. The shops have great prices and you can find anything from camera gear, to t-shirts, to bison head-mounts, to bear skin rugs. It was fun browsing the shops in this town. We picked up some sweaters and sweatshirts because we had only one or two packed per person. We realized that we needed a few more, since my kids get their clothes dirty every time they wear anything, even for 10 minutes. We have been using the sweaters we packed at every National Park this trip so far.

Yellowstone can be done in two days. We hit all the highlights in two days. Of course, more time can be spent there to see even more and do some additional hiking. We did as much as we could during our two-day visit. There are two loops in Yellowstone, the upper loop and the lower loop. Both loops can be entered through the West Yellowstone entrance, as you can see on the map below. The lower loop is where Old Faithful can be found. I marked on my map all of the places we stopped on these loops. We may have stopped a few more locations, but these were the ones I marked in advance.

I used a fantastic National Parks planning website for our visit to Yellowstone. It is called Dirt in My Shoes.

This website is founded by a former National Park Ranger. She has created self-guided tour plans also known as itineraries for many National Parks. You can select how many days you want for your itinerary. For example, if you plan to spend 4 days at Yellowstone you can purchase the 4-day itinerary. If you only have one day to spend at Yellowstone, then you would purchase the one-day itinerary. Since we had 2 days to spend at Yellowstone, I purchased the two day itinerary.

The itinerary and self-guided tour instructions from Dirt In My Shoes was perfect for our Yellowstone visit. We hit all the highlights. This itinerary even provides a hour-by-hour schedule, so you know how long it takes to get from one location to the next. Each stop that she recommends for the tour, she provides a description for that location. I was grateful for the itinerary, and that it was only $9.99 for the two-day package. It saved me hours of mapping out our stops and trying to decide the best highlights for us to see. Her guide was so good! I purchased a self-guided tour plan for our next stop, since this one was so helpful! You can buy your own National Park self-guided tour plans on her Website. She also has a blog with amazing free tips and advice for many National Parks. Her knowledge and experience are the best I have seen online of any National Park blogger:

(P.S. I don’t know Ash, the Park Ranger who created Dirt in My Shoes. I just think she is amazing and a wonderful resource for anyone who wants help in planning their National Park trip and are doing it on a budget).

Tips to See Old Faithful

Old Faithful erupts approximately every 90 minutes. There is no set schedule, since it is a natural phenomenon. You can check in at the Old Faithful visitor’s center and they will have it posted when they believe it will next erupt. When we were there, the sign said 10:15. They were wrong. It went off at 10:05. You will want to get good seats about a half hour before they believe it is going to erupt. When we arrived at Old Faithful, it was going off, so we knew we had about 90 minutes before it would go off again. We went to the visitor’s center to double check the time for the next eruption and since we had some time we got a bite to eat at their café. At 9:45 we headed outside for seats. There are benches around the perimeter of Old Faithful. If you want a good seat, then be sure to get there at least a half hour in advance. The seating around Old Faithful was about half filled by the time we got out there.

Tips When Seeing the Geysers

There are many areas of the park that highlight different geysers. If the smell of Sulphur bothers you, definitely skip the geyser named Sulphur Springs. It was stinky just driving by the location. Some of the others are putrid also, but none as bad as that one. The Mud Volcano geysers were worth the hike, as were the geysers at the West Thumb Geyser Basin located along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Those were my two favorite Geyser viewing areas, following Old Faithful.

Geysers and the hot springs in Yellowstone are dangerous. Do not allow your children off the boardwalk or path area. There have been over a dozen people who have died at this National Park as the result of falling or going into one of the hot pools or geyser areas. Many more have been injured over the years. Most are extremely hot acidic water that can kill.

Don’t Miss the Grand Canyon

Did you know there is a Grand Canyon in Yellowstone? There is. It is called just that; The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is indeed grand! The best viewing point of this canyon is at Artist Point. It is located near Canyon Village. This is another must see stop while you are visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Did you know there is a Grand Canyon in Yellowstone? There is. It is called just that; The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is indeed grand! The best viewing point of this canyon is at Artist Point. It is located near Canyon Village. This is another must see stop while you are visiting Yellowstone National Park.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Our campground hosts told us to check out the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. This is not located inside Yellowstone. It is a not-for-profit conservancy located in the town of West Yellowstone. They have rescued bears, wolves, and a variety of large birds at this conservancy. The most impressive bear was a grizzly named Sam. He was larger than any grizzly bears that can be found at Yellowstone, because he was rescued from Alaska where the grizzly bears are considerably larger. All the animals were easy to see and watch as long as we wanted. It was a great experience!

To see a wolf in Yellowstone would be a miracle. We saw coyotes. But wolves are elusive and avoid humans in the wild. They are difficult to see in the wild, unlike other animals such as the bison in Yellowstone. You can see wolves at the conservancy. They even had young pups there during our visit! It was neat to see them up close.

At the conservancy they provide you with the story of each animal, including where and how they were rescued. It is a wonderful way to see these animals up close. It is a fantastic educational center I highly recommend you visit if you are going to Yellowstone. We spent 2 hours there the first evening we arrived into town. We then went back the next day, so the kids could participate in the 3:00 bear feeding. They allow the children into the bear habitat. The bears are not in there at the time of course. They are locked inside their indoor habitats behind a series of 3 secure doors. This was explained to us, and the children, during the teaching portion of the bear feeding. They learned how to be bear keepers (Bear Keeper Kids is the name of the program). Inside the bear habitat they hid food under rocks, in the water, and under logs for the bears to search for, just as they would in the wild. The conservancy expert who lead the Keeper Kids provided the kids with a great educational experience about caring for bears and how bears live in the wild. They try to replicate the experience in this conservancy as much as possible, including making the bears forage for their food. The kids helped in hiding the food and they worked hard to pick up big stones and logs to hide the food as deep as possible. After the kids exited the bear habitat, Sam the grizzly was allowed to enter the outdoor habitat to search for food. He worked hard to find it too! The kids said they hid lettuce, apples, and what looked like dog kibble. Sam was eager to find it, as were the ravens all around him.

Overall, the experience at the conservancy made our visit to Yellowstone even more incredible. We saw a variety of animals at Yellowstone National Park, but we didn’t see any grizzly bears or wolves. We were able to view them at the conservancy and learned a great deal at the same time. I highly recommend this stop when you visit Yellowstone. The conservancy is located next to the IMAX theatre in West Yellowstone. Here is their website for more info:

Below are more of our photos from our visit to Yellowstone, including the herds of elk we spotted twice, bison, waterfalls, and more beautiful scenery from this amazing National Park. If you haven’t been to Yellowstone yet, put it on your bucket list! It is one of the most remarkable places in the entire United States.