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5 Reasons to Avoid Yellowstone National Park

5 Reasons to Avoid Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone might be one of the most popular National Parks in the United States, but is it really worth a visit? 

We must admit, the answer is “yes.”

However, visiting Yellowstone can be a real headache. From the sheer number of tourists to dangerous geothermal features, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Just ask this camper who was attacked by a bison!

Read on to learn 5 reasons you might want to stay away from this National Park. 

A Bit About Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the United States. With the land first being set aside in 1932 as a “National Reservation”, Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872. 

This then started a domino effect of protecting land not just in the United States but across the world.

Today, Yellowstone is one of the top visited National Parks in the United States. Yellowstone is famous for it’s incredible and varied landscape full of canyons, waterfalls, forests, and geothermal features. 

5 Reasons to Avoid Yellowstone

It’s one of the most popular National Parks in the US, but it’s not for everyone. Here are 5 reasons to avoid Yellowstone National Park. 

Massive Crowds 

Yellowstone is one of the most popular National Parks in the US with over 4 million visitors a year. The entirety of the park is only open for about 6 months a year, which means this park sees thousands of visitors per day, if not tens of thousands. 

The crowds at Yellowstone can be overwhelming.

You won’t find any secluded or empty pull-offs or scenic vistas in this park. Your only chance of solitude at Yellowstone is hiking in the backcountry, and even then you’ll still see people. 

In fact, the lines to see many popular land-features may be over an hour long.

A Crowd of People Watching Old Faithful Geyser Erupt in Yellowstone National Park on an Overcast Day

Unbelievable Traffic Jams

With the massive amounts of visitors to Yellowstone and only one main loop road means that most of your visit to Yellowstone National Park will be sitting in the car. That’s great if you love being in the car… but if you’re in a rush to get anywhere, even to a bathroom, be prepared to wait! 

Frequent traffic jams occur due to the number of people in the park, and also because of wildlife. Sometimes these traffic jams can last hours, and that’s not an exaggeration. 

Many visitors to this National Park do not heed signs saying not to stop in the road, and will hold up traffic looking at animals in a field. Sometimes, the bison block the roadways themselves!

Aggressive Wildlife

We’ve all heard the stories of bison attacks in Yellowstone, right? If you’re unfamiliar, Yellowstone’s bison have a reputation for attacking visitors. 

Despite the signs around the park warning not to get too close to these giants, many tourists have been charged or gored by bison in this National Park. 

There are also bear attacks every year in Yellowstone. 

Dangerous animals in Yellowstone include Bison, Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Wolves, and more. 

Dangerous Geothermal Features

Many tourists have been injured or killed by the dangerous geothermal features at Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is a highly active geothermal area, featuring boiling geysers, mudpots, and acidic hot springs that can dissolve skin off of bone. 

Tourists have been injured and killed by falling into these features. Many have been accidents, but some were intentional, like this man who died trying to soak in a hot spring. His body was never recovered. 

Yellowstone is a Supervolcano

Yellowstone National Park is one giant supervolcano. If the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, it would wipe out everything within hundreds of miles. Not only that, it would deposit ash for thousands of miles across the United States and Canada. 

The odds of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting in the near future are pretty low. But if it did happen, you might not have enough warning to get to safety. 

Tips for Visiting Yellowstone

Despite the massive crowds, terrible traffic, and dangers of Yellowstone, it is an incredible National Park, unlike any other place in the US. Here are some tips for visiting Yellowstone: 

Do Your Research

Learn the busiest times of day and month to avoid crowds. You will never be able to fully avoid them, but you can have a good experience nonetheless. 

Snacks and Gas

Bring road trip snacks and a full tank of gas! Also plan to have several days to explore the park, since you will be sitting in traffic for so long. 

Avoid Wildlife

Stay away from wildlife. Like, far away. Don’t try to get a selfie – in fact, that’s how most people get attacked by bison especially.

Read Signs, Follow Rules 

People have been injured or killed by ignoring signs telling them to stay on the walking paths. The ground at Yellowstone is unstable, and if you step on the wrong part you could fall into boiling water, just below the surface of the dirt. Stay on the paths and follow the rules and you’ll be fine!

Take Advantage of Free-Camping Near Yellowstone

If you really want to beat the crowds, we recommend free-camping (aka boondocking). The Yellowstone area offers hundreds of acres of land for you to camp on for no charge!

Here are the 11 best free camping spots in Yellowstone ⬇️

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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  1. Katydid says:

    Park your RV in Cody and take Cody Shuttle through Yellowstone on a 12 hour tour of either the upper or lower parts. The tour drivers know history as well as best photo sites. Price is reasonable, they pick you up at your RV and you get Valet service at each viewpoint. It was a great experience for us! No traffic headaches and we could look at the sights while they do the driving!

  2. Deborah Kerr says:

    Great article! We traveled 1700 miles from Ohio to get to Yellowstone this year in late September. We had 5 days and each day focused our attention on a drove to one of the 5 entrances, stopping for wildlife and the other famous features of the park. Although we stayed at an RV park 1 hour north of the Gardiner (north) entrance, which seems far, but around Yellowstone EVERYTHING is spread out! Be sure to get the Gypsy app, it’s like having a tour guide right along with you in the car – it’s based on your GPS, so even though we had no cell service in most of the park, it needs to be downloaded before-hand. It was totally worth the price – we got the bundle with Grand Teton for about $10. I was surprised the park wasn’t as busy, but someone mentioned foreigners aren’t traveling there (COVID closures) and all of those buses of people weren’t there to deal with. We were there during the Elk’s rut season – the males “bugle” was awesome – bunches at Mammoth Hot Springs in the north end of the park. My favorite was the journey to the NE entrance because of the valley and mountains and a black bear crossed the road in front of us! You know there’s wildlife when you see some stopped cars in the road! Would love to travel to Yellowstone again – next time in the Spring season!!

  3. Grdon says:

    Very informative, but you talk to fast slow down

  4. Alan says:

    We must’ve been extremely blessed because we just visited Yellowstone 2 weeks ago and it was fantastic and hardly no traffic.

  5. Ashley Waggoner says:

    This could not be more wrong. I have God awful anxiety and I have never been more in heaven and at peace than I was at Yellowstone. Most incredible and magical place on earth.

  6. No name to display says:

    “Yellowstone’s bison have a reputation for attacking visitors.”

    No, Yellowstone visitors have a reputation of illegally getting too close to the bison. Don’t blame animals for doing what animals do.

    And saying the volcano is capable of erupting and covering the continent with ash is needless fear mongering. People visit specifically to see the geothermal activity, if you can’t obey easy rules then don’t expect tears when your dumb ass falls in.