For most this is a no-brainer. Should you bring your own car to mosey around Yellowstone? For those living near by, of course, but once you get a state away you need to decide if this is going to become a prolonged road-trip or not? What else do you want to see along the way, or is it just more financially viable then flights, hotels, etc. These are great questions which we’ll hit here shortly.
There is a bigger question though, do you feel comfortable on Yellowstone’s roads? Every so often we get someone to Yellowstone who has an issue with heights and traversing mountains roads for the first time can be a frightening experience. People have come up to me with fear in their eyes hoping the road ahead might be milder, when they just came over one of our easier passes. The roads here can be tight in places, with other motorists passing quickly and in over-sized RVs or busses. Those who are trepid towards heights and tight places, may want to avoid driving Yellowstone’s roads. In those cases, you either want to be the co-pilot, or maybe consider a guided tour.
- Beartooth Highway: Speaking of winding roads! The Beartooth highway is not for the feint of heart. It is full of hairpin turns and a 3,000 foot elevation clime, but it makes up for this with high mountain lakes, outstanding vistas, trail heads for the backpackers, and four-wheel vehicle roads for the adventurers. It really is an amazing place for anyone who can stomach the drive.
- Quake & Hebgen Lakes: Just outside West Yellowstone are to fantastic lakes with some recent history. Hebgen lake was just a normal lake, and well known for being a go-to place for fun water activities. Then on the tragic night of August 17th, 1959 at 11:37 pm, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit which tilted Hebgen Lake by eight feet, destroying roads, flooding homes, and causing landslides. The last of these had the most effect. Miles down river at a quiet Campground, a landslide moved 80 million tons, both burying 28 people and damning the river. Those passing by can visit roadside historic sites and the visitor center at Quake Lake. While there, take a moment to remember the people who died and stand in awe of the power of Mother Nature.
- Grand Tetons: A must see for those traveling by is another National Park which stands on par with Yellowstone. Just south of Yellowstone lies the Grand Teton Mountain Range, which actually only takes up about 40 miles in length, but also stand as a serrated blade against the sky. The contrast of the the Grand Tetons against Wyoming’s flat plains can be seen here as they rise from around 4,000 feet to 13,775 feet. Under these monoliths, the area is rich with wildlife and water sports alike. Fisherman, hikers, boaters, and photographers rush to the Tetons to take in what it has to offer.
- Heart Mountain Interment Camp: Just outside Cody Wyoming is a touching place to stand in memory of those who have walked those grounds. During World War II and after Pearl Harbor, the United States relocated as many as 14,000 people of Asian descent to Heart Mountain in Wyoming. This was done outside their constitutional rights, and against their free will. This location has been lovingly been preserved for visitors so we will hopefully never forget the crime that was done due to fear.
- Outlying Cities: All around Yellowstone are some of the neatest small towns in the country. Really you can’t go wrong when choosing between from West Yellowstone’s fun atmosphere to Cooke City’s quite one. Gardiner is an amazing spot to plant yourself for everything from river rafting to wildlife watching while Cody Wyoming is there to bring the Cowboy out of all of us. Of course we cannot forget Jackson in the south which is a mecca for artists and musicians from across the country.
Now if you are comfortable with winding mountain roads, and are coming from a distance what else can you see along the way? There are many other wonders nearby Yellowstone which would be great to see as well!
There are a ton more sights you can see along your trip depending on which direction you are coming from, but feel free to reach out to us for help! In the end you will have to decide what works best for you. And often that key to that is figuring out your finances. You might have an epic plan from coast to coast with Yellowstone as the highlight just to realize the cost of gas alone goes over your allotted budget. In those cases, maybe flying in would be the better option. Others less plans might find that flying in, getting a rental, booking hotels, and buying meals is too pricey. It all comes down to figuring your budget and then working from there. So whether you need help with figuring out your finances, what to see along the way, or if you should forgo your own car and fly in, feel free to reach out to one of our agents to help you get your plans in order.