If you dream of a visit to beautiful Yellowstone National Park this summer, you’re not alone. Really not alone. More than 4 million people visited Yellowstone National Park in 2015, an increase of 16.6% over 2014. The number of visitors is only expected to increase this year, especially since August of 2016 marks the centennial of the National Parks Service.
So what’s a nature traveler to do? Fear not, we have some tips to help you make the most of a trip to Yellowstone and enjoy geysers, hot springs, moose and wilderness away from the crowds.
1. Make sure you see the “hidden gems” that aren’t in the guidebooks by going with an experienced tour operator who really knows their stuff. A side bonus is that the spots in the guidebooks are where all the other tourists will be!
2. Select a tour operator that keeps their groups very small, ideally to less than 10 people. That way you get the guide’s full attention and expertise, and you’re sure to always get a window seat so you don’t miss a single bison.
3. Spend time in the Lamar Valley to admire wildlife in “The Serengeti of North America.” This is the spot where wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in the 1990s.
4. Be careful when selecting a tour operator that you go with one that takes travelers to lesser-known and more remote areas. In these places, you can enjoy spectacular wildlife viewing without worrying about other visitors winding up in your photos or scaring away the bighorn sheep.
5. Leave July and August to the crowds by planning your trip for May or September. The summer months are the busiest time to visit Yellowstone, but late spring and early fall offer just as much beauty and plenty more calm to make your trip more enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a crowd-less Yellowstone trip that ticks off all these boxes and more, check out Nat Hab and WWF’s Hidden Yellowstone Wildlife Safari, with departures every May and September. If you’re an avid photographer, check out our Yellowstone wildlife photography tour, with two departures in September.
Have you found a way to escape the crowds in Yellowstone? What are your favorite ways to enjoy this popular national park?
Source for park visitation numbers: West Yellowstone News.