Every time I told someone I was going to head up to Yellowstone, they were initially excited. “Awesome!” they’d say. “When are you going?”
And almost to a person, that’s when the excitement would fade. Instead, their eyebrows would raise, and their tone would change to one of polite concern. The sort of tone you use when someone tells you they just opened a LuLaRoe store and wouldn’t you like to come to an in-home boutique session next week. “Oh,” they’d say. “You and everybody else in the nation, right?”
It was as if there were some unwritten law somewhere that stated that the week of July 4th, everyone would descend on Yellowstone en masse and make it as hellacious for each other as possible.
After this conversation played out with enough different people, I began to doubt my life choices. Perhaps going to Yellowstone that day was a bad decision. Maybe I should do something more reasonable, like skydiving without a parachute, or swimming with Great Whites. But after consulting my schedule, it was clear that if I was going to go to Yellowstone, it was then or not at all. Surely it couldn’t be that bad.
I’m on the flip side now. I have been to Yellowstone the week of the Fourth of July, and I am here to tell you all that all those people who were concerned for my sanity . . . didn’t need to be.
Don’t get me wrong: There were plenty of people in the park. Parking was bad for Old Faithful, the Paint Pots, and Artist’s Point. But “bad” in this case means “I had to wait for 5 minutes at the Paint Pots, walk for 5 extra minutes for Old Faithful, and wait for 20 minutes for Artist’s Point.”
If these were ride wait times at Disney World, everyone would be amazed at how short they were. The weather was gorgeous, too, so it’s not like we can chalk it up to “people just didn’t want to go.”
Basically, anywhere that was easy to get to and didn’t involve hiking at all was mobbed. Anywhere that was even remotely strenuous? Not that bad. If I’d gone on any real hikes, I’m confident I wouldn’t have seen many people at all.
So if you’re ever in a similar situation, and you’re wondering if you should give it a go, don’t let the naysayers dissuade you. We had a blast in the park. The only bit of advice I would give would be to leave your hotel early. We left Jackson Hole at 7:30am, and all was well. Also, download the cool Geyser App they have for the park. It’ll let you know when the geysers are scheduled to go off again. Just update it before you go into the park, or do it at Old Faithful. Cell coverage everywhere else in Yellowstone is pretty crummy.
And because I kept quoting him time and time again, and my kids have never seen him, here’s a Yogi Bear clip to show them what I was talking about.