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Planning a trip to Yellowstone from Idaho as the park turns 150 years old

Posted at 4:27 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 18:27:21-04

BOISE, Idaho — Yellowstone National Park is America's first park and this year this geologic wonder turns 150 years old.

Yellowstone remains one of the most popular destinations in the country because of its diversity of wildlife, all the thermal features and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Idaho News 6 reporter Steve Dent shares how to plan a trip to the park from Idaho:

I had the opportunity to grow up in Bozeman, Montana which is 90 miles north of the park, so I have visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton around a dozen times.

I would recommend entering the parks from the south entrance which gives people a last-minute stop for lodging at supplies in the Wyoming tourist town of Jackson, there are several places to camp in this area, whitewater rafting adventures on the Snake River and a lot of historic places to visit in Jackson.

This means people will enter Teton National Park before Yellowstone, but even though these parks are separate, every trip to this area should include both parks.

The majestic mountain ranges in the Tetons are a sight to see and people could easily spend a week here hiking, visiting alpine lakes and searching for wildlife, but for the sake of this story we will move on.

Entering through the south entrance, people will drive past cascading waterfalls, lakes and the Continental Divide until they reach West Thumb. From there, the park turns into a figure eight that takes several days to explore.

The first tip on visiting Yellowstone National Park is to secure lodging before the trip. Campgrounds are always full, cancellations are always a possibility but should not be relied on, because if you have to snag a last-minute hotel in one of the surrounding towns that will hurt the bank account.

"For visitors who are coming to Yellowstone we ask them to plan ahead we know people are aware of how many visitors come to Yellowstone because it is so popular," said Morgan Warthin of Yellowstone National Park.

Must stops in Yellowstone include the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs and the geyser basins from Madison Junction to Old Faithful is the most popular area.

This area features the Firehole River Canyon Drive, the Grand Prismatic Spring and the hub of Yellowstone at Old Faithful Geyser.

"I’m actually on the balcony of the Old Faithful Inn and surrounding the inn are geysers, hot springs and mud pots," said Warthin. "The visitors that come to this area can expect to see a visitors center, they can expect to see Old Faithful go off every 70 to 90 minutes.”

Yellowstone is also known for its wildlife and some popular areas to see bison include Hayden Valley, Lamar Valley is your best chance to see wolves. The area I've seen the most bears is on the road from Tower Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs.

It's important to remember bears, wolves, elk, bison, deer and antelope are all wild animals. For your safety and theirs, it is important to keep your distance while trying to capture a photograph, also be prepared for traffic jams caused by the animals.

"We ask visitors to be mindful, to be stewards of this park in order to protect it and preserve it for future generations," said Warthin.

June, July and August are the busiest months for Yellowstone, the park set attendance records for most visitors in a month during July. To beat the crowds, try to go in another month, but if that is not possible getting up early is the best way to not get caught in long lines.

The other entrance that is convenient for Idahoans is the west entrance at West Yellowstone, it doesn't have as many amenities as Jackson, but it is a unique area.

People can visit Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, go to a pair of Idaho State Parks and Island Park has the longest main street in the country and all of these places are in Idaho.