I Lived in Yellowstone National Park: Don’t Do These 5 Things There

I (not pictured) spent months living in and exploring Yellowstone National Park.
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  • I lived in Yellowstone National Park for three months alongside wolves, grizzly bears, and geysers.
  • I often saw travelers make the same mistakes, putting themselves, others, and wildlife at risk.
  • Don’t stop along the way to spot animals and try to see more than just Old Faithful.

Yellowstone National Park is not a theme park and it is a mistake to treat it as such.

My husband and I spent a year living in a van. Driving cross countryDuring that time, he took a temporary job at Yellowstone National Park and we ended up living there for three months.

I had spent a lot of time in National Parks Before this, the mistakes I saw travelers consistently making here were shocking.

Things were especially difficult during the busy summer season When most people treated the park more like a mall on Black Friday than a shared space in nature.

If you’re going to Yellowstone, especially this summer, don’t make these mistakes.

Stopping in the middle of the road

I saw many Near misses caused by travelers Stopping suddenly in the middle of the road to look at the animals in the distance.

Instead of braking without warning, find a safe place to park and then walk back to observe the wildlife. Taking the time to find a place to park off the road can jeopardize your chance of seeing certain animals, but it can prevent you from being rear-ended.

We only stick to the classic tourist spots

Consider trying to see more than just Old Faithful.
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Yellowstone offers much more than Old Faithful.

Yellowstone National Park is 2.2 million acres – don’t make the mistake of spending your entire trip seeing just a series of popular spots that wouldn’t cover a single acre.

By getting off the beaten path I was able to see boiling mud pots, soaring eagles, and herds of pronghorn without the crowds. Before your trip, look beyond just the most popular attractions to find other places and trails to explore.

Do you think you can see the whole park in one day?

You can’t see all of Yellowstone in one day. I didn’t even see it all during the three months I lived there.

If your time is limited, include only a few things on your itinerary and take the time to see them, enjoy them and learn from them.

Don’t spend most of your days wandering around the park just to check things off a bucket list or post pictures of attractions on the Internet. There are already plenty of those activities.

Treating wildlife as pets

Yellowstone is not a pet store or a zoo. Animals live here.
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Unfortunately, I have seen travelers harass animals frequently. They are not there to entertain you, so please respect them and their homes.

Just because Yellowstone’s animals don’t run away from you doesn’t mean you should head toward them either.

Bison look cute until they gore you. Elk are giant deer until they brandish their antlers like swords. Feeding prairie dogs your lunch can expose you to disease and potentially make them sick, too.

Not being prepared

As someone who spent the freezing cold in Yellowstone in August, I highly recommend Be prepared for sudden changes in temperature As large as 40 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few hours.

Wear hiking boots and several layers of clothing that you can add and remove throughout the day to stay comfortable. Bring snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated and energized.

Having what you need can help you stay comfortably in the parks longer.