Top 10 Tips for your Yellowstone Trip and More

Top 10 Tips for your Yellowstone Trip
1) Bring snacks from home! Food is very overpriced in Yellowstone and your family will likely get hungry during the long car rides. There may be limited stops where you cannot purchase anything.
2) Buy enough water at Salt Lake City if that’s your departure point. We bought water at a good price from “Winco Foods.”
3) Buy prepared food outside the park for lunch. If you’re staying at West Yellowstone, I highly recommend “Ernie’s Bakery & Deli” for sandwiches.
4) If able, purchase a senior pass for $20 which will cover your car, last for a year, and can be used to visit ANY national park throughout the U.S.
5) Bring a jacket that can keep you warm. It can get really chilly in the morning especially in August.
6) Yellowstone is not really dog-friendly. Dogs are only allowed on leash in parking lot areas. I’ve seen small dogs being carried around in the inside of tourist spots but I don’t think the tourists were supposed to do that.
7) I recommend going in August where there isn’t as much traffic but you can still see everything you want to.
8) Fill up on gas outside of Yellowstone (such as West Yellowstone) for cheaper prices.
9) Do your research in advance on the top places you want to visit and plan a route accordingly so you can manage your time efficiently.
10) Bring hiking boots, bug spray, and bear spray if you’re planning on doing some hiking.

Travelling is a big part of my life especially in the recent years. I’ve been visiting Europe (especially Germany, Italy, and Switzerland yearly) and other countries (Canada, Japan, South Korea, Jamaica, Spain, and Portugal in 2017 alone.) Although I’ve lived in the U.S. for majority of my life, I still haven’t visited all the hot spots in this vast country. I was finally able to visit the Yellowstone National Park last week with my family including my Pomeranian named “Teddy.” It’s a place that my mother has been wanting to go to for a long time so I was happy that she could finally visit.

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The whole trip took about 5 days where we landed in and rented a car at Salt Lake City, Utah. We left early the next day and made our first stop at Grand Teton National Park’s Visitor Center. I highly recommend purchasing a senior pass if you are travelling with someone who is at least 62 years old and is a U.S. Citizen. It’s only $20, lasts for a whole year, and covers the entire car. We were running behind schedule by the time we arrived at Jenny Lake so we didn’t get to ride a shuttle boat and visit Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. We also briefly stopped by Jackson Lake where we got to see a bear cub from far away before heading to West Yellowstone to our second hotel. I recommend trying to get to your hotel before night falls as there is no light inside the park. We had takeout for dinner from “Firehole Bar-B-Que.”

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Jenny Lake

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Jenny Lake

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The bear cub on the left side of the road

The next day, we visited the southern part of the park where Old Faithful was our first stop. I highly recommend leaving early (around 8 AM) and checking online to see when Old Faithful will erupt. Old Faithful was nice to see as it was the highest geyser eruption I’ve seen so far! We then visited Grand Prismatic Spring where traffic started to really pile up. I can’t imagine the traffic during the really busy season! Afterwards, we drove to “Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room” for lunch where we got to also view Lake Yellowstone. We made a stop at Hayden Valley where we finally got to see herds and herds of bison! Apparently one of the differences between bison and buffalo is that bison have beards while buffalo don’t. Prepare for a lot of traffic in this area. After making a stop at our hotel, we went to “Gallatin Riverhouse Grill” for dinner. It’s a pretty far drive from West Yellowstone so I recommend visiting there for dinner after you visit the northern part of Yellowstone. It was the best restaurant out of the whole trip. There were barely any tourists, full of locals, and live music. I highly recommend the pork ribs as the well-seasoned meat fell off the bone and was tender. I am not a fan of BBQ sauce but their BBQ sauce was so addicting that I ate way too much of it and felt sick afterwards. I forgot the important principle to keep/eat everything in moderation. The drive to and from the restaurant was really scenic and nice. I had fun blasting music and singing along with my family during the drive.

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Welcome to Yellowstone

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Yellowstone Fields

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Old Faithful Eruption

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Grand Prismatic Spring

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Grand Prismatic Spring

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Hayden Valley

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Bison at Hayden Valley

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Bison at Hayden Valley

The fourth day, we visited the northern spots of Yellowstone by first visiting Norris Geyser Basin. Like most popular spots, I highly recommend going there early! It got so packed later in the day that people were parking on the outer streets since the parking lot was completely packed. We then visited the Grand Canyon which was one of my favorite spots in Yellowstone. The Grand Canyon has two gorgeous waterfalls where you can visit the top of the lower waterfall and have an amazing view of the canyon. It’s quite a hike but worth the trip! We then visited the Mammoth Hot Springs which was also wonderful to see with all its rock formations and clear waters! We took a stop at Fort Yellowstone to have lunch on a picnic table with a great view of the Mammoth Hot Springs. Our last stop was at Boiling River which was another favorite! I recommend wearing your swimsuit the morning of, bringing a towel and swimming shoes that do not easily slip off, and wearing your sneakers for the trail. We thought the part of the river where people can go in would be close to the parking lot which it wasn’t. The trail was pretty uncomfortable with sandals. The river is a one in a lifetime experience where some parts of the river are cold but the part right near it can be very hot! It’s such a treasure in Yellowstone where you get to enjoy the waters and the amazing view. On our way back to the car we encountered a small snake and laughed a lot at Chai’s adorable reaction of shock. We went back to the hotel and had an early dinner since we needed to wake up at 3 AM next day to make it to our flight back.

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Norris Geyser Basin

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Norris Geyser Basin

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Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

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The waterfall at Grand Canyon

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The waterfall at Grand Canyon

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Mammoth Hot Springs

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Mammoth Hot Springs

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Mammoth Hot Springs

On the last day, we arrived in Salt Lake City in the morning and stopped by “Gourmandise – The Bakery” for breakfast and “Rosie’s Deli” for sandwiches to eat for our flight back home. The trip was only 5 days long but it seemed much longer than that. The only thing I missed out was not being able to see the stars at night since it was a bit cloudy. It wasn’t a very food-oriented trip but it was a very enjoyable trip with family! There was some scenery that reminded of beautiful New Zealand.

The best part of the trip was spending quality time with my family in beautiful nature. We don’t get to talk to each other this much on an average day but when you’re stuck in a car for hours you can really talk and laugh about various things.

Did you visit Yellowstone recently? I’d love to hear about your experiences in comments below!

Reviews and Ratings of Restaurants

Ernie’s Bakery & Deli (4/5): I really enjoyed their breakfast sandwiches! Our family also enjoyed the vegetarian sandwiches that we brought for lunch. It’s overpriced but so are all the restaurants in or near Yellowstone.

Gallatin Riverhouse Grill (4/5): A MUST if you’re in the area! I highly recommend the pork ribs and trying the spicy-sweet BBQ sauce!

Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room (3/5): I think it’s worth a one-time visit. We originally had dinner reservations in advance but decided to visit for lunch instead because of schedule changes. I have to agree with other online reviews that it’s really overpriced for the quality of food. However, the lunch prices are more reasonable and don’t usually require reservations in advance.

Las Palmitas (3/5): It’s a food truck that sells Mexican food. We ordered quesadillas to go that also came with yellow rice. It’s cheaper than eating out at a restaurant and held me over well until the next day.

Firehole Bar-B-Que (2/5): We ordered 1 lb of brisket and bean side dish and paid over $30. The bean side dish was not that great and the brisket gave off a really unappetizing smell. I could only eat a few bites of the brisket due to the smell. I do not recommend it.

Espresso West (2/5): I came here for a cappuccino and do not recommend it. The consistency was weird and the flavor was off. Perhaps the other flavored drinks are better but I personally think that the basics are important. There’s not many choices in Yellowstone for quality coffee though.

Gourmandise – The Bakery (3/5): They have multiple locations in Salt Lake City but we visited the downtown location where you can sit down and eat. The food and cappuccino were average, but the server was friendly. I do not recommend the “Roasted Asparagus Benedict” because the salami was the saltiest meat I’ve tried in my life. My family could not finish it. Chai got “Eggs and Polenta Benedict” which was the better choice out of the Egg Benedict dishes.

Rosie’s Deli (2/5): We got decent vegetable sandwiches here for our flight back home. It’s located inside a small supermarket.

Reviews and Ratings of Hotels

Gray Wolf Inn & Suites (3/5):
This was our hotel in West Yellowstone and I think it’s one of the best options if you’re travelling with pets. The hotel offers free breakfast (very basic) and parking. The front desk was accommodating and treated us well.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Salt Lake City Airport (2/5): I have mixed feelings about this hotel. It was convenient that it was close to the airport and provided a free shuttle service to the airport but the front desk was rude and charged my credit card multiple times. We were also first given a room that was not cleaned and the second room had cigarette smells despite it being a nonsmoking room. The only saving grace was a worker there who provided us free breakfast and coffee at the Starbucks there for all our troubles.

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