What to Wear
During a summer visit to Yellowstone, you should bring comfortable, outdoor clothing, that you can easily layer on and remove. Because Yellowstone National Park sits a mile above sea level on average, you should expect cold nights, no matter season you are visiting in. Be sure to bring a warm jacket or a fleece, and a rain jacket -- weather in the park can be unpredictable!
If you plan to swim in one of the park's countless rivers, hot springs, or go whitewater rafting, consider bringing water shoes. The rivers are rocky and can be uncomfortable to walk in barefoot. Otherwise, make sure to bring comfortable, closed-toe shoes for any hiking you may do.
If you are traveling to the park in the winter, anticipate severe and colder weather. This means bringing a heavy waterproof jacket, and wearing wool or other insulating clothing underneath. If you are planning to do any snow sports, dress appropriately, and wear synthetic, fast-drying material as your first layer. This way, if you sweat, the clothing will dry quickly and you will stay warm.
Because of the reflective qualities of the snow, also bring a pair of sunglasses. Make sure to take a long a set of gloves and a hat, too.
What to Bring
As with visiting any national park, it is better to be prepared. Make sure to pack a good water bottle, binoculars, a small day backpack if you are hiking, and of course, bring your camera! If you plan on leaving the main tourist areas in the park, or camping overnight, it is also recommended that you bring a first aid kit and carry bear spray.
Yellowstone has a variety of recreational activities. Some of the most popular include:
- Horseback riding
- Llama trekking
- Wildlife observation
- Cross-country skiing
More than Meets the Eye
While the most obvious attractions of Yellowstone are physical, the park also has a rich and fascinating history. One of the benefits of taking a group tour of Yellowstone is that your guide will be able to tell you, in detail, about it. If you are interested in learning about the Native American tribes who battled and conducted pow wows in and around the National Park, consider taking a culture-based trip. Go see the Crazy Horse Memorial, tour a Native American art exposition, and even meet local tribe members.
Guided tours often go outside the park to explore the history of the region. A historical tour will guarantee you the opporunity to learn about it. For example, visit old Wild West towns and learn about important figures like Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane, or take a short drive to see the infamous Mount Rushmore.
How safe is Yellowstone?
Many visitors to Yellowstone are alarmed when they first read that bear spray is recommended within the park. Despite this recommendation, the probability of a bear attack is very low -- many more visitors have been injured trying to get close to the geysers than by all interactions with wildlife combined!
With that being said, Yellowstone is an uncontrolled environment. In order to remain safe, keep to your common sense, properly dispose of all of your garbage (especially if camping), and do not feed or harass the animals.