Campervanning through Yellowstone National Park

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
10
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
2
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
9
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
77 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
North America
country
USA
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 125
Time of year visited
May
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
52nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 20% SUMMARY RATING: World Class

Summary

Yellowstone – the name itself conjures up images of harsh, snow covered lands with roaming wolves, bears and bison; geysers (60% of the world’s geysers are found here) and truly wild nature – a real untameable wild west, and the first National Park of the US.  To get more of this feeling, and avoid the rush of summer visitors (30,000 a day at peak times), I’d suggest doing a couple of things: 1. Go as the park opens up in May (or closes in October).  You’ll have a few things limited due to the snow, but it doesn’t hold back the overall experience.  2. Try some of the back country trails, in addition to the key major attractions.  One of the main reasons less than 5% of visitors try this is a fear of the wild animals, so to counter this make sure to ask the advice of the rangers and, if needed, arrange a ranger-led hike.  We got some advice and headed to 2 spots where it felt like there was no one for miles around.  Didn’t hike far – maybe a couple of hours or so, and it felt like we had the place to ourselves with that wild feeling we were hoping for

We took a campervan around as part of a large 2-3 week trip (see here for Rapid 2 week roadtrip around the US West Coast States), which is super easy to do as Yellowstone is geared up for exactly this.  The “Grand Loop” drive of 132miles / 230km goes through most of the key sites and is well positioned if you want to jump off and find something slightly out of the way.  We stayed the night near the Fishing Bridge of Yellowstone Lake which had some great views

A note on the type of scenery – Yellowstone is less about the stunning individual features that you may find in a Yosemite National Park, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley etc.  Whilst it does have some great waterfalls and the likes of Old Faithful, its more about the vast size of the place.  So think less about turning the corner to suddenly be presented with an El Capitan or towering sandstone buttes from a western movie; its more about driving and hiking across Yellowstone’s vast area

As we were on a super tight schedule we only had 2 days in Yellowstone, which was enough for a glimpse and to get a feel for the place.  But I would love to have stayed longer and done maybe some more hiking there

If you are driving through Yellowstone, be sure to take the time to at least drive through Grand Teton National Park – its is only an hour or so to the South and it is arguably even more impressive from a vista point of view than Yellowstone – see the travel entry Driving through Grand Teton National Park for more details

highlights

#1 Driving around the Grand Loop - 132miles / 230km goes through most of the key sites and is well positioned if you want to jump off and find something slightly out of the way

#2 Taking a bit of time to head off and away from the standard paths - makes you feel miles and miles and miles from anyone else

#3 Seeing some of the local wildlife, with bison quite regular visitors, and wolves often can be seen in the distance

#4 Seeing some of the other geological features less known in Yellowstone, such as the Grad Prismatic Spring

#5 Seeing Old Faithful - reminding you of all those Yogi Bear cartoons by “Jellystone National Park”

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone