For years, I’ve watched nature documentaries and dreamed of seeing the expansive, vast wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Last week, I got the chance to do just that!

Check out my photo diary from my adventures at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks below, plus a few quick tips I picked up while I was there. I had so much fun exploring this beautiful place, and was especially impressed by the geyser field behind Old Faithful. How beautiful and insane is our planet?Yellowstone National Park Pinterest Image

Where to Stay

Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a campsite within Yellowstone National Park, as it was Labor Day weekend and the sites filled up by around 8:00 a.m. I wish that I had gotten there earlier, because it really is ideal to stay inside the park. It takes nearly three hours to drive the loop within the park, plus it took me about an hour just to get to the gates of the park from Jackson Hole, WY, where I ended up staying. That makes for a lot of driving when you just want to be out exploring!

That said, for those looking for more of a resort experience, I would highly recommend visiting Jackson Hole. It’s a ski-town in the winter, and a mecca for outdoor sports in the summer. I stayed at a beautiful hotel called the Snake River Lodge & Spa. With its cozy decor, roaring fire, and hospitable happy hours, this resort felt exactly like a lodge should.

What to Do

There are a million things to do in Yellowstone, from river rafting to horseback riding, to wildlife watching to backcountry hiking and camping. Jackson Hole itself provides mountain bikers, climbers and hikers with insane views of the surrounding valley. If you like being outdoors, you’ll never be bored here.

If you get sick of the great outdoors (c’mon, that’s not gonna happen…) Jackson Hole offers top-notch restaurants and breweries to keep you busy, and full, for days.

Quick Tips

  • This is bear country, and you’ll be reminded of it EVERYWHERE. From special trashcans to warning notices on bulletin boards, it’s impossible to forget that you’re in someone else’s territory. Be smart. Don’t hike by yourself (many companies in the area offer guided group hikes and wildlife safaris), and always carry bear spray. Bear spray will set you back about $40 (or you can rent it for $10/day at visitor centers), but it’s better than a bear setting you back an arm, am I right? 😉
  • Yellowstone’s website offers a guide to let you know what time “first-come, first-served” campsites filled up the previous day. Be sure to check it before setting out if you plan to camp.
  • Most visitors just drive through Yellowstone, and miss the sweeping landscapes and vast wilderness that can’t always be viewed from the road. Get out of your car and explore this amazing place!
  • You’re in a protected wilderness, NOT a theme park. People die here nearly every year, and some of those deaths are the result of not-so-smart decisions. No, you don’t need a selfie with that bear, and NO, if the rangers say something isn’t safe, you shouldn’t do it anyway. Carry bear spray and make good choices.

Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 19Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 20Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 16Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 10Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 28Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 3Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 23Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 7Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 4Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 11Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 8Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 29Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 23Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 26Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 15Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 6Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 14Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 16Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 27Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 24Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 2Yellowstone National Park Photo Diary 30

For more from Yellowstone, check out my VLOG: 

Do you prefer to camp or stay in hotels when visiting locations known for the great outdoors? Let me know in the comments below!