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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 “maybe.”

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.

  7. Tom says:

    Aggressive wildlife really???
    It’s more like stupid people. Don’t bother them , you don’t get out of your car and walk into the area where they’re at whether it’s 10 yards away or 50 yards away.
    Don’t be stupid and pet them or take a selfie . It’s obvious people don’t have brains. If you get attacked by a wild animal then good for you because you deserved it.

  8. Marlin says:

    I have been to Yellowstone many times,The best times were in the 60 it was great back then, The last time was in 2020 and I will say it was my last time never again, It is like a big business,,they have taken the park out of it and everything is run by contractors SO I am not going any more to Yellowstone business

  9. Randy says:

    Well 1st thing is to obey all these rules. They will keep you alive. Me personally. I wud not wanna visit this place it’s way to dangerous. Pictures of YELLOWSTONE is good enough for me. What a beautiful PARK INDEED

  10. Anonymous says:

    Biggest tip, stay away all together! Yellowstone is a National Treasure. If we want to keep it that way, let’s close it to the general public.
    I have been to Yellowstone several times in my life and the amount of stupidity from tourist I personally witnessed in the short amount of time I passed through the park was astounding!
    From people digging up saplings to bring home, surrounding a 10pt buck for a “selfie moment” to running across the lava crust with their children…we as a society don’t deserve to enjoy this sort of nature. Close the park to tourists!

  11. Spongey says:

    I work at a campground in the park. Every campground is fully booked all summer long. Make reservations far in advance. Up to a year is allowed. If you think you can just walk in and get a campsite in July, good luck. If you try to camp in a pullout or day use area the rangers will oust you. Even if it’s 3 AM. Advance planning is a must.

  12. Gwen says:

    We can’t say enough wonderful things about Yellowstone!!! It has been one of our best trips! Vacations do not always need to take place in the summer. We went the end January and the beginning of February! It was just AMAZING! We signed up for a small (10) tour. The snow shuttle, driver and guide were fantastic! We saw all the attractions… geysers, mudpots, animals, etc. and NEVER had a line. One early morning I visited Old Faithful and no one was there except me! With the proper clothing we were never uncomfortable with the frigid temperatures. The staff, guides, food service workers were ALL very pleasant, helpful, and had a story to tell of their own adventures! Winter is by far the best view of this beautiful National Park!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Don’t blame the park,blame the stupidity of people that don’t use common sense.

  14. There are federal codified regulations protecting wild life and rangers with regulatory arresting authority yet enforcement is Not adhered.A duty that is sworn to be upheld Congress needs to step in and the26 tribal sovereign nations needs to Invoke their authority as part of international law to stop this life and death endangerment ($5,000fine and up to a year in incaceration) or close the park

  15. Meike says:

    the link mentioned in the Youtube movie does not work, seems to be expired. Can you find it somewhere else?

  16. Shelly Gillespie says:

    Yellowstone is absolutely ❤️❤️

  17. Eliz says:

    The animals in Yellowstone do not attach people. Some very stupid people get too close to wildlife that just do what animals do, like shake their heads or protect their. The geothermal features are not dangerous if u ou stay on the boardwalk as the park service requires. Only, stupid people get hurt. We go annually. It is such a special place. Just go for a hike, you will get all the solitude you want.

  18. Jackie Webb says:

    Very informative article. Thank you so much. Wish I were young enough to visit Yellowstone National Park. I sincerely hope others will read your article and if they do visit the park follow your rules and advice.

  19. Barbara Wood says:

    What a load of misinformation. Animals will not charge unless harassed. If a tourist follows the rules, Yellowstone is a wonderful park to visit. Wyoming, Idaho and Montana wish all the rule breakers would find somewhere else to break the rules.

  20. Nancie E Newman says:

    As a frequent traveler and guest of YNP right now, the problem continues to be “self-entitled” tourists that refuse to abide by common sense rules.
    Thus, I’ll continue reminding idiots…pick up your trash; don’t touch the bison or elk for funerals are not cheap. If you leave the boardwalks for a sauna bath, leave your wallet behind.
    Yellowstone is a beautiful park, people ehhh not so much any more.

  21. Barbara Matney says:

    Your reasons for Not visiting Yellowstone could actually be applied to many site seeing, vacation areas. We had no issues with any of your reasons. Like responsible people, we did some research and were prepared with a full tank of gas and packed food and water. The waiting we had was due to road improvement.

  22. Barbara says:

    Your reasons for Not visiting Yellowstone could actually be applied to many site seeing, vacation areas. We had no issues with any of your reasons. We followed directions. Like responsible people, we did some research and were prepared with a full tank of gas and packed food and water. The waiting we had was due to road improvement.

  23. Janet King says:

    We went to Yellowstone in May. No crowds at all, respect the wildlife and keep your distance. There are walkways to prevent you from harm around the geothermal areas. It was an amazing trip.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. I have been there fours times. If idiots would heed warning signs posted there wouldn’t be any incidents with wildlife. As far as other accidents this would prevent them also. We are so arrogant thinking we are the superior creatures. Go and just enjoy its beauty. Anywhere worth going is going to have traffic problems.

  25. Rosemary Crawford says:

    The most ignorant article I’ve read in a while. You should really do your homework. The aggressive animals in the attacks are mostly because of ignorant tourist, who provoke or walk in places where they are told not to Yellowstone is a beautiful place is the disrespect of nature that causes issues.

  26. Miranda says:

    The reason there are so many injuries with the wildlife is because visitors think it’s a petting zoo. Also they go off of the boardwalks and enter thermal areas disobeying the signs. Go to the Tourons of Yellowstone Facebook page and you’ll see how they put themselves in these situations

  27. Cathy Bicknell says:

    What a loadofnonsense.Pretty obvious to me this was written by someone that’s never been there
    The only thing they got right was the park name.Do you really believe, people from all corners of the world, would travel to such a remote location in the numbers they do.Many return time and again,instead of visiting other locations.

  28. Cathy Bicknell says:

    What a loadofnonsense.Pretty obvious to me this was written by someone that’s never been there
    The only thing they got right was the park name.Do you really believe, people from all corners of the world, would travel to such a remote location in the numbers they do.Many return time and again,instead of visiting other locations. This makes anything read in drivinvibin,suspect.

  29. Mick Mueller says:

    Yes, yes yes! Please! Stay Away! If the the stupid would just avoid the park, there would be no crowds, no wildlife would be harassed to the point of protecting themselves and the integrity of this majestic place would be maintained. Like many of our Wilderness areas it is getting trashed by the ignorant, the arrogant and the self entitled. It’s a shame. If you can go there in the quieter timed and show due respect, it can be a reverent and life altering place.

  30. Tammy says:

    Yellowstone is visited by millions every year. Your article is misleading. less then .00001 is injured or killed. people don’t just tumble into a Thermal Spring, the must walk through the blockade and numerous warnings. Yes it can get busy, but go after after school starts and it’s not that busy.

  31. T- says:

    Yes, expect to spend almost the entire visit in your car. Expect that traffic to annoy you. It moves slowly. Most of the park is nothing remarkable. Expect traffic…

  32. I lived/worked in Yellowstone for almost two years during College.
    NOTHING like it anywhere on earth.
    Go and take your children Aunts Uncles GrandMa and Grandpa . You will never in out of a subject to discuss the remainder of your lives.

  33. Charles Floyd says:

    I worked in Yellowstone for two seasons. And I’m telling you it’s the most remarkable spot on the planet BAR NONE. !!!!

  34. Stacey Porter says:

    It’s amazing that you are blaming the “wild”life and the geothermal sites for tourons being injured. If people followed the rules they wouldn’t get hurt. As to the Yellowstone caldera, if and when it goes the western half of north America will be gone too.
    Yes the traffic can be bad and the main backup is tourist bus drivers and guides who don’t educate their passengers on local protocol.

  35. Paul Ames Reinhold says:

    Really didn’t appreciate your comment that the wildlife is aggressive. They’re just living their lives the way they’re supposed to, it’s the tourons,(LCD lowest common denominator)that’s ruining everything for everybody, as usual.

  36. Linda says:

    Whoever wrote this article is a complete moron! Yellowstone is a great place to go to. If you are stupid and avoid the rules then that’s on you stupid! Obey the rules and have a fantastic trip. People put themselves in danger of the elements and the animals. The elements and the animals don’t go out of their way to harm the people, get it right.

  37. Sandra Yoder says:

    Just returned from Yellowstone in the most popular month to visit, June,23′ Experienced none of the problems the article mentioned. There was road construction which held us up 45 min but that was all. Stayed at Cody, WY.

  38. Ian Shaw says:

    Oh my, what a shallow bit of journalism!

    The traffic in Yellowstone pales in comparison to most metro areas, get over yourself.

    Yes, the other dangers are real…and also very much the reasons to visit the Park.


  39. Bad article
    Blaming bisons not humans
    Blaming geothermals not humans
    Blaming it as a volcano
    Blaming bear attacks not humans

    Wish I never read it

  40. Beth says:

    Um actually we just went to Yellowstone and the crowds weren’t bad. So this is fake news. But I would definitely advise staying clear of the wildlife.