A First Visit to Yellowstone National Park Offers Wonder and Wildlife

My first visit to Yellowstone National Park was on one of our biannual trips to North Dakota and South Dakota to visit my grandparents. My parents had an old station wagon that had one bench seat facing the back window and one bench seat facing the front and a third in the front seat. We often swapped seats because my dad like to drive straight through, meaning we’d arrive in North Dakota 24 hours later. But on the trip to Yellowstone, we were returning home to Seattle and I was in the back seat with the window down but the outside temperature was over a hundred and I remember feeling incredibly sick. Now days, with air conditioning such trials are not quite so bad, but anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park should remember to bring plenty of water or Gatorade or other sports drink to handle the heat.

Yellowstone National Park North Road is a Good Quick Look

One way to see Yellowstone National Park in a quick amount of time is to take the North road up through the mountains. Be sure to check pass conditions before leaving especially in early spring or late summer because snow can occur at any time and at times the roads can close. Things that are wonderful to see on the north road include Mammoth Hot Springs, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Museum of the National Park Ranger and a Petrified Tree. The drive is scenic in most places. Mammoth Hot Springs is worth at least an hour walk around the formation. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has several overlooks including some hoodoo formations. The last part of the drive exits over the mountain pass and when we went in August, there was still snow in patches, so you might want a jacket. We spotted chipmunks high on the pass.

Access to the North Road from I-90 is from Livingstone, which is about 30 miles east of Bozeman, then south along Hwy 89. Changing to Hwy 212 will exit you through the mountain pass through Bear Tooth Scenic Hwy will return you to I-90.

Yellowstone National Park Main Road is the Most Popular Route

My first trip into Yellowstone National Park, we spotted a brown bear mid road playing ham for all the cameras. All of us kids were excited. We stopped at the Fountain Paint Pots and some burbly mud holes. We missed Old Faithful’s geyser but it was neat to see anyway, this is the main reason people take the main road through Yellowstone, along with the facilities surrounding Yellowstone Lake.

Access to the Main road from I-90 is via Hwy 191 out of Bozeman, and changes to Hwy 287 to Hwy 20. Hwy 20 meets up with I-90 at Sheridan, Wyoming.

Exiting South at the Midpoint along Hwy 20 takes you into Grand Teton National Park, another experience worth visiting. Plan to stay somewhere along the route if you combine both parks in the same trip.


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