When packing make sure that you bring a pair of binoculars. These are absolutely essential for spotting animals at a distance.
Yellowstone is a wilderness, but the cost of visiting it are akin to the cost of visiting a Caribbean resort. It includes park fees, flights, renting a car, gas, food and accommodations. Entrance to the park is an excellent deal at only $25 per car for up to seven days. The flight from New York City to Jackson, Wyoming will likely be the most expensive item. Prices run about $480 roundtrip from New York City. Thankfully, if you book ahead, the rental car won’t be too expensive. We got an economy car for about $40 per day. Even though you’re in the mountains, you don’t need to splurge on an SUV or even a 6-cylinder engine. Because the park is huge — larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined — I recommend renting a car that is fuel efficient. There’s a wide range of options for accommodations, ranging from campsites where you can pitch a tent, to luxury cabins and hotels. Campsites range from $12 to $45 per night. Cabins or hotel rooms are available for as low as $72 per night. The best deals are at Lake Lodge, where we stayed, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Roosevelt Lodge.
There are dozens of places to stay in the park, including numerous cabins, hotels, campgrounds, and backcountry areas. As we traversed the park, visiting attractions, we saw quite a few of the lodges, and they all looked comparable, suggesting that the cabins associated with each lodge would be comparable too.
We stayed in Lake Village, specifically in the Lake Lodge Frontier Cabin, and I would recommend it. Lake Village is located on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, and has a central location, which is important when considering the hundreds of miles of driving you might do while visiting attractions. Plus its position near the Hayden Valley makes seeing wildlife relatively easy. The Lake itself is also beautiful, and on still days it will offer a tranquil relief from the busyness of your tours. Our cabin was a short walk from the main lodge, which featured a cafeteria, a bar, a souvenir store, and a large room for lounging that contains two fireplaces.
When to Go?
One of the most important things to consider when planning your trip to Yellowstone is the time of year you’d like to visit. More than other areas of the country Yellowstone has a very limited tourism season. Winters are long and harsh, with temperatures recorded 60 degrees below Fahrenheit. Spring is risky because it can snow anytime. Summers can be very crowded. Fall has less crowds, but if you go too late in the season, you’ll encounter snow. My recommendation is July or August if you want to be reasonably certain that the weather is okay. Try September if, like us, you’re willing to chance the weather for a less crowded park. Either way, if you like adventure and wilderness, get to Yellowstone as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.