I have been looking forward all summer to my sisters and brother-in-laws joining me for a trip up to Yellowstone. Though quite a ride from Laramie, it is still closer than I usually am to this glorious national park. Of course on the day of our departure from Laramie, California and Colorado wild fires cloak with thick, pungent smoke the stunning scenery that should enthrall us .
We are finally all back home now and in addition to a few pictures that I was able to edit to mask the hazy smoke, I want to share these pros and cons of visiting Yellowstone during a pandemic.
- I secure reservations at the Old Faithful Lodge just a month or so before our trip. The normal wait is about a year to get a room in this prime location.
- The lack of tour buses makes parking much easier at most of the favorite scenic areas. Three or four cars can fit in each tour bus site (if some of the drivers are friends)!
- We have unobstructed views and plenty of benches to sit on at Old Faithful each time we watch it erupt. A very unusual experience considering the popularity of this geyser.
- Not as many human targets on the road as I have seen in the past. Although at one bear sighting, it is difficult to maneuver past the excited tourists walking blindly into traffic while focusing their enormous camera lenses. With no peripheral vision they step right out in front of the Jeep. Eyes on the road, I miss the bears and the tourists (thank goodness!).
- The common areas of the Lodge (and other public buildings on site) have absolutely no furniture inside them. Not only does it look terribly bare and uninviting, but if you need a seat you must go outside and find an empty bench.
- A wildfire in the park closes the southern loop road to Old Faithful adding 3 hours travel to each end of our trip. Thank goodness, my sisters pack food or we might starve before we get to the lodge. I drive (mostly alone) from 7:30am – 6:30pm almost non-stop to get back to Laramie at our trip’s end because of this detour.
- Smoke in the area obscures many of the most stunning views. The Tetons fade in the haze appearing as a ghostly remnant of their normal grandeur.
- Because there is no inside seating, all meals are to go. By the time we find a place to sit outside each cool evening, our food is chilly too.
Overall I am happy we are able to visit Yellowstone this year. I love the diverse landscape and entertaining natural features that cover this enormous park. My family had never been here before and I am so thrilled to share a few days in this park with them.
In spite of a few inconveniences, the lack of massive tourist groups really does enhance our stay. The parking lot at Old Faithful will not normally yield a tiny spot for motorcycles. I learned that back when the Dawson Gang vacationed here in the past. This year that same parking lot has more empty spaces than occupied ones.
10 Replies to “Pros and Cons of Yellowstone 2020”
I had a fantastic time seeing you and Yellowstone even with the craziness. The lack of people was a great plus! The road closure was an inconvenience, but a tanker wrecked the day after our departure blocking the other way out!!! So I continue counting my blessings!!!
I agree – thank goodness we all got out before that accident. So glad I got to see everyone – miss you already!
So I guess you had to enter through Cody or heaven forbid cross Beartooth Pass. Please tell me you didn’t have to go all the way north to Mammoth to enter. If you did that was one heck of a drive!
I’m sure it was good to see family again.
I did leave via Cody. My original plan to go south would have taken at least 7 hours, but maneuvering through 100 extra miles of bison in Yellowstone and then going through Cody added to that. At least by the time we left, the smoke had mostly dissipated and I was treated to a very scenic albeit lonely drive home!
What a great trip, you made a great decision to go visit the park with family. A guy told me once for every blessing there is a curse, and for every curse there is a blessing, you sure verified that statement with this blog. That is one place we missed when we were out there, thanks for filling in the gap. As usual it was a great ride and we felt we were right there with you. Keep up the good work, and stay safe. Still miss ya. GOD BLESS JD/SD
Jim & Sandy
Oh My Goodness! I hate that you missed Yellowstone when you were out. I think you should definitely put that in future plans. Maybe I could meet you there too!
Like Jim and Sandy We enjoyed the trip with Valerie, Sheila & spouses. John doesn’t know them but listens to my stories.
Liv and I loved Yellowstone and took advantage of cams in our travels….to let her parents see I hadn’t lost her.
We’re happy..still honeymooning. Have a good offer on my house in Roxana that we’re negotiating.
So glad to hear that things are going so well for you! I laugh picturing you and Liv tracking down webcams to wave at the folks at home 🙂
Thank you for sharing your trip to Yellowstone! Glad your family came for a visit out West!
This is the first summer in 16 years that we haven’t been out traveling and exploring. I’ve missed the opportunity to go out and see nature, or go jeeping. Benson has had a warm and dry summer with lots of that California and Colorado smoke blocking our mountain views.
Looking forward to seeing you before too long.
I look forward to seeing you before too long too – maybe we can have some adventures!!