Ideas for Yellowstone National park: question & advice

Reader submitted question: Going to Yellowstone Natl Park next week, suggestions on anything out of the norm? We are already booked at our hotels and know all the main points to check out. Just seeing if anyone one knows of any hidden gems out there. Whether it is site-seeing, eating or some kind of activity or must see, please let me know. Don’t tell me ‘Don’t feed the bears’.

My answer (really an extension of the question):

I just saw a thing on bear watching in Yellowstone on TV. Apparently most tourists drive around looking for bear jams (when you see a bunch of cars stopped it’s probably because they see something). That worked on the documentary but you’re still dealing with a crowd.

Before and after the bear jam the guy went hiking on his own and saw many more bears and had no one around him – it seemed cooler than the bear jam (albeit more dangerous). This leads me to my question – how do you go on one of those hikes to see bears away from the roads? Do you have to be a TV documentary maker or can a normal guy like me arrange for something special like that?

As for the actual Yellowstone advice, I hear you should get out early because the animals are very active at dawn. Added benefit, a whole lot less traffic on the roads at that time. I guess you have to carefully look for bears as well as bear jams at this early hour.

If possible, leave behind all your electronics – no cell phone, no laptop. Camera’s a good idea but I recommend a journal. You should stop and write down everything you’re seeing. It’s a great way to slow down things and make you really contemplate where you’re at.

All of the stops are overwhelmed with tourists but it’s hard to resist seeing them (like Old Faithful). Get a good map and pick a few hikes that match your abilities. Walk quietly and slowly and look for wildlife.

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  1. Pieternel says:

    Somewhere, not far from West Yellowstone is an unofficial place to bath in the river near the road; people at the hotel probably know exactly where, we went there some 25 years ago, and the place is peculiar because of the hot springs in the river. On one side the water is ice-cold, and on the other hot hot hot ! NOT a place to see bears…

  2. Sherwin says:

    We where resently in Yellowstone. Going to the Beartooth Highway out the northeast exit is wonderful. It is a very beautiful area at 10,000 feet altitude. this took us all day as we stopped frequently to take photographs. The area is not in the park, but is in a national forest.

  3. Catherine Florio says:

    Found the Grizzly Bear Discovery Center during one of my trips to Yellowstone. It is located near the West Entrance; it’s actual location is in West Yellowstone, Montana. Their mission statement is to help people learn and appreciate bears and wolves. They have several of both on premises; animals that were either pets and/or can’t be released. Very informative and educational.

  4. Brenda says:

    We were in Yellowstone mid-June. Saw 2 black bears right along the side of the road, yes a bear jam, around 4 pm driving south from Tower Falls in the Roosevelt area on our way back to the Canyon area. This was just the way we wanted to see them, from the safety of our car! On our first day into Yellowstone a grizzly bear had to be put down along Lake Yellowstone as it had several tourists trapped along the lake. Also, just outside of Yellowstone, while we were there, a grizzly mauled and killed a man after the bear had been captured and released by a bear study team. Remember,these are wild and unpredictable animals! Also, most injuries at Yellowstone are from car accidents and buffalo. Be ready to slow down for the animal jams and don’t get too close to the buffalo and the bears. I highly recommend the horseback trail rides in Yellowstone! Also, very reasonable deals to rent a fishing boat for several hours with guide included and go fishing on Lake Yellowstone. They’ll provide the poles and bait, clean your fish for you, pack them on ice and you can take them over to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and have the chef cook your trout for your dinner that night. The view alone from the lake on the boat is spectacular! The Lake Hotel dining room is also wonderful, over looking the lake! Make your reservations for dinner and horseback ride before you leave on your trip. They book up. It was a great trip!!

  5. Harold says:

    After retiring from the United States Marine Corps in 1990 I worked a few year at Yellowstone in the back country and park maintenance. Some of the best things that I found to do was to go to the Yellowstone Inn and sign up and go on a chuck wagon ride out to the cowboy camp and was treated to a steak cookout. One time we even had to leave earlier than anticipated because a grizzly bear decided to join us and the ride back in the wagons was extremely fast after the mules got wind of the bear.

    While there stop at the ranger station at the lake hotel and ask them of anything new and good to see. They will be your most helpful for current happenings. And everyone should go out to the Roosevelt Lodge where Teddy Roosevelt stayed while hunting before it was turned into a national park. It is also the place where the bison were brought to rebuild their population when they were almost extinct. Thats where you will see the most bison. While there at the lodge you will most likely run into some summer classes of naturist and they can educate you on some of the species of animals and their habits.

    I hope this helps you out some. Just go with an open mind and check out as much as you can. If you camp at the camp grounds, go to your next camp ground in the morning and do your sight seeing after that. If you don’t you will not get a good site and maybe even none will be left. Enjoy.

  6. The Baroness says:

    My husband and I went camping at Yellowstone just last summer. It was awesome!!! We saw two bears, lots of bison and almost hit a deer with our car. We saw 1 black bear near Roosevelt Falls and 1 grizzly on the way back to our campsite near Lake Yellowstone. Plan on spending lots of time driving. Yellowstone is huge and the animals run all over the place, clogging traffic for hours on end. Also you’re 10,000 feet closer to the sun in Yellowstone, use lots of suntan lotion and wide-brimmed hats. But you still need to bundle up, the weather is unpredictable in the Rockies!

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