Our Trip to Yellowstone in the Fall
I visited Yellowstone National Park the first weekend in October of 2019 with my father and my 2 year old daughter. The main benefit of visiting Yellowstone in the fall is avoiding the crowds. The weather is a crap shoot, it snowed while we were there and a road closed down. A lot of the stores were closing and many of the campgrounds had already closed. We had a great time.
We stayed outside of the park each night, but here is a list of hotels in the Yellowstone Park, including availability and campgrounds including closing dates. In the fall it is crucial to check the current conditions for road closures and more.
Make sure to heed all safety advisories. We brought bear spray, learned how to use it, and thankfully did not need it. If you stop for a hike through the backcountry, hike with at least 3 people, make a lot of noise and bring bear spray!
From Cody, we entered the park through the NE entrance. We left Cody just at sunrise (the drive is pretty windy, so we wanted to make most of the drive in the light) and hit Dead Indian Pass as the sun was coming up over the peaks. It was truly one of the most beautiful moments of the trip.
Our first stop was in Lamar Valley where we saw bison, wolves and a bear!
We then drove down to Canyon Village to view the waterfalls, which are truly stunning. This road was closed the next day due to snow, so make sure to check conditions before setting out.
After, we turned back up the road and headed to Mammoth Springs to view some surreal limestone travertines. We also saw a huge herd of elk here. Stop for a kid-friendly hike at Undine Falls.
That night we exited the park and stayed north in Pray, Montana. We ate at the historic Chico’s Dining Room. I would recommend staying at Sage Lodge*. Chico also has a lovely warm mineral pool that is open to the public for a small fee, my daughter loved it.
On the second day, we drove through the Northwest section of the park. It was cold and snowing that day, so we just got out of the car a few times to see the geysers in the area.
We exited the park through West Yellowstone, stopped for pizza at WIld West Saloon & Pizzeria and went to view grizzly bears, wolves, otters and eagles at The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center - this is a must stop if you have children. We stayed in a double room cabin at 320 Guest Ranch a bit north of West Yellowstone in Montana and made our own dinner, it was lovely.
On Day 3 we headed back into the park through West Yellowstone to see the geyser basins. To be honest walking through the geysers with a 2 year old was a bit nerve racking, but if the geothermal features are what brought you to Yellowstone, this is your day. My personal favorite was a stop in West Thumb where we got this incredible view of Yellowstone Lakes.
from here we headed out of the park and into Grand Teton National Park (details coming soon!)
Traveling to Yellowstone in the fall requires some warm gear and a flexible mindset, but we had a really amazing trip and escaped most of the crowds.
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