the guy who wanted to go hot tubbing in Yellowstone? Yep, there are reasons for signs like these:
I may be dating myself here, however, “DANGER Will Robinson DANGER!” from the Lost in Space TV show keeps playing in my head.
The most beautiful place on earth can also be the most dangerous. Truth be told, I feared the tourists more than the animals.
Beauty surrounds you as you enter Yellowstone National Park. It is there for us all to enjoy. But, I would like to give a few survival tips that will make your trip more safe and enjoyable.
- Obey the warning signs at all times. It may be hard to believe, however, they are there because a tourist before you actually did what they are warning you not to do. (Did you have to look twice at that toilet picture? I know I sure did.)
- While driving around in the park, stay VERY far away from the drivers in front of you. Why? Tourists will slam on their breaks and/or completely stop in the middle of the road if they think they see a live animal. Your life does not matter to them when they have the opportunity to take a picture of an animal.
- If you are like me and hate crowds, keep a photographer’s schedule.
- Explore an hour before dawn – 10:00 am (Leave when tourists have finished their breakfast and you see them coming in cars and buses.)
- 10:00 am – 11:00am visit a lodge and meet the resident artist or visiting center to learn about the history of Yellowstone.
- 11:00 – 4:00 Take a nap, picnic, shower, upload photo’s, read a book, take a secluded hike, plan the next day’s adventure, etc. Whatever you do, make sure you stay off the roads.
- 4:00 – 30 minutes after sunset explore a valley where the bison roam or even visit the more popular pools. (Most tourists will be eating and exhausted from being with the crowds all day or taking their bus ride back to their hotel.)
If you follow these tips, you will avoid traffic jams, traffic accidents, and hopefully avoid witnessing adult tourists putting their small children in danger by positioning them in front of large animals in order to get a picture. Oh, and most of all, your name may not come up during the “Ranger’s Open Mike” nights that are held weekly during the summer months. ( I asked a ranger if I could attend one of the” Mike Nights” for a laugh but apparently I need to work at Yellowstone to do so. Bummer.)
Some have asked me where I stayed in Yellowstone. I chose to camp at the Canyon campgrounds. I loved this campground with its thick forest of trees and easy access to the six sections of the park I planned on visiting. This was my first experience camping alone and not in a cabin. While I do think it is more fun to camp with friends and family, it was a fun experience to turn my car into my own camper of sorts. It took a bit of planning and organization but it turned-out perfect!
I sewed window cushions for my windows. This idea was something my grandmother did for her camping trailer. You take fabric (In this case, blackout fabric) and foam cushion and make a window covering for each window. All you have to do is press them into each window to block out the light and prevent people from peeking into your car. They are easy to remove each morning. They also doubled as a way to cover and hide my belongings in the car during the day. While I had made cushions for each of the back windows, I divided the front seats from the back by using a spring rod and a blackout drape.
My car has bucket seats in the second row, so I measured the space when the seats were flat down. I used those measurements to buy a piece of wood that I covered with outdoor carpet. This covered wood was then laid down on top of the flat seats. This doubled the bed of the SUV. I was then able to have storage under and on top of the extension. I even had enough room for a place to sleep.
Even extra room to store things between the bucket seats.
My cozy cocoon to sleep in. To the left are stackable plastic drawers that I used for clothes, food, camping and cooking equipment. I kept the drawers and cooler unstacked while on the road. (So I could see out the back window and not look like I was traveling in a car full of things to steal.) Then, I stacked them to the side when I was camping and needed room to sleep. After sitting next to a warm fire in the evening, this was the perfect cozy place to go to sleep.