We decided to visit Yellowstone National Park a little late in the year. We quickly learned this is one of those trips you don’t plan at the last minute, but we were now on a mission.
The prices of hotels in the area are pretty insane with many being in the $300 per night range. So, our solution to that was to go camping and decided to buy a pop-up camper along the way. We ended up finding a Skamper pop-up for sale in Durango, Colorado for a very good price. While a bit older, it was in great shape and we couldn’t beat the price.
Where to Stay (Or Camp)
Our next mission was to find a camping spot. After some research, we had a couple of campgrounds in mind, but our goal was to get a spot at Norris Campground. All of the campsites that took reservations were booked months in advance. Other than those, all of the campsites in Yellowstone are first come, first serve so we would have to arrive as early as possible to get in line. Fortunately, we did end up at Norris Campground, which was about 30 minutes or so from the Canyon Campground. You have to be careful camping in Yellowstone, as they have bears and some campgrounds only allow hard-sided RVs. After waiting in line in the cold for quite some time, we managed to secure a spot. The parking at Norris is very limited, so TJ and I ended up leaving Troy in line while we went to go find Canyon Campground to shower.
Where to Shower
Should you end up in a similar situation, you have two options. One is the Canyon Campground. You do have to pay to use the showers there, but it was pretty inexpensive. The other option is to go to Mammoth Falls, about an hour away, and they have smaller shower and bathroom houses behind the main hotel. I liked this area a bit better because it wasn’t as crowded. The only problem is that it was the furthest away from our campground.
Yellowstone is Huge, But Not As Big as You Might Think
While Yellowstone is very big, once you’re in it and exploring, it’s not as big as it looks on the map. Our campground was quite central, so you could go in just about any direction and the roads all sort of loop back to each other. Granted, you will spend a lot of time driving, parking and looking and then driving again. It is all worth the time in the car though. We spent three nights there and saw the large majority of the park.
A Natural Wonder
There are so many amazing and incredibly dangerous sights to see in Yellowstone. Please, please be careful! We actually ended up buying the book Death in Yellowstone, and let me tell you, there are some really stupid people out there. Don’t be one of them.
Don’t try to pet the bison. They will kill you. Don’t try to pet the elk, they will also kill you. Don’t hike alone in silence and always carry bear spray if you’re off the beaten path. Don’t touch the water at any of the features because it’s so incredibly hot your skin will melt, even though it is all fascinating and pretty. Pretty much stay on the designated pathways, behind the guardrails and don’t touch anything! And I’m pretty serious because looks can seriously kill or permanently maim you in this park. The ground itself is so thin in areas and filled with steam underneath that a misplaced step off of the designated pathways can be deadly. Just look, take pictures and be amazed. You can touch the stuff in your campground!