Can You Explore Yellowstone On Your Own?

One of the largest and most spectacular national parks in the United States is Yellowstone National Park. Not only does it have spectacular views and trails to hike, but it also contains the old faithful. A steam geyser that shoots superheated steam into the air every 44 minutes to two hours. Exploring this wonderful park is a bucket list item for any explorer, but can you do it without a guide?

You can explore Yellowstone National Park on your own, using your vehicle to drive down trails, creating a private group of hikers, or planning a trip to the multiple camping locations across the park. The park is geared towards people exploring nature on their own and leaving as little as possible behind. Tour groups are optional but not insisted upon.

Exploring the national park is one of the most amazing things that anyone that loves nature can do, even bringing in people that might hate being outside and converting them into nature-loving heroes. You need to know how to explore Yellowstone, how long it will take to see as much as possible, whether your activities require a permit, where to find a map, and what you can do inside Yellowstone.

These are the ways to see Yellowstone and what you need to remember when planning a trip.

How you can explore Yellowstone

There are three accepted ways of exploring Yellowstone National Park that are both safe and lets you see as much as possible without wasting money. Each type of exploring will let you see different things and experience a much more varied range of things.

Many first-time explorers feel overwhelmed when they first see the size of this park, but luckily there is a recommended course of action for first-time experienced travelers.

  • Hiking: The routes that meander through Yellowstone are too many to count, and park rangers regularly go through them to ensure that everyone is using them safely. If you’re experienced at hiking, it could be a lot of fun taking one of the shorter routes, that’s only a few hours long so that you can experience the park.
  • Driving: Because Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the US, it is visited by a lot of people not experienced enough to hike or camp. The roads that traverse the park will easily let you see some amazing things, and you’ll be able to see wildlife from the safety of your locked car.
  • Camping: Possibly the hardest thing to do in any national park is planning a successful camping trip. However, if you want to see the stars at night and the world undisturbed by anyone walking or talking, camping in the woods is sure to give you the full Yellowstone experience.

The length of time you need for Yellowstone

Possibly the trickiest thing to do is planning how many days you need to explore Yellowstone, as it depends greatly on what you will be doing in the park. Some hiking trips could only require a full day, which makes it possible to go there over the weekend.

Other ways of exploring the park could take longer, and if you live several states away, just reaching the national park could take several days in itself. This means you will want to possibly stay a few days as well, meaning your short trip to Yellowstone could end up lasting more than a week.

Even if you are planning on only doing a day trip to Yellowstone using your car, you will need to plan for several days, as you will have to get your vehicle there. Planning a trip to Yellowstone could be anything from simply one day if you are near, or one or more weeks if you are traveling from another state or outside the US.

Do you need a permit?

Even if you are a simple day visitor to Yellowstone National Park, you will need a permit to enter the park. These are easy to get, generally available at the entrance of the park, to explore or to do more complicated things like hiking, camping, horseback riding, or just canoeing.

These permits are easy to get from the official Yellowstone National Park website and can be done online, allowing you to plan ahead with ease and see what is required from you to enjoy the park safely.

A map of the park

Possibly one of the easiest things you can get from the national park services website is the maps of all the parks. For Yellowstone, you simply navigate using the top menu on the park’s page, through which you can then get a google map of the park or download a printable PDF document.

This lets you easily see where the campgrounds are, where hiking trails go, where the roads are, and what the park actually looks like. Having a map before you explore the park, and while you are inside, will let you easily see where you want to go and where you are.

Alternatively, every point of entry has a map placed on it, where park rangers will tell you where to go and what routes are currently inactive. If you ask nicely, they may even tell you which routes are quiet and are more likely to have some wildlife on it.

What can you do in the park?

The list of things you can do inside Yellowstone National Park is virtually endless. Just one thing like camping has several offshoots of activities that could keep you busy all year. Luckily, the national park services have long planned what to do for visitors, and there are several ideas of what you can do just by visiting their website.

  • Camping: The obvious and easy answer to starting an adventure somewhere wild, Yellowstone has several campgrounds spread throughout the park.
  • Canoeing: Though you will require more gear and permits, going canoeing across the lakes or down the rivers of Yellowstone will give you a new perspective on the things you will see in the parks.
  • Fishing: Despite what many people think, you are allowed to fish inside national parks, you simply need to get the right permits and equipment to make it a pleasurable and legal experience.
  • Photography: People always seem to forget this the first time they visit national parks. Taking pictures of the world surrounding you when you go see something amazing is an easy and effective way of relaxing.
  • Hiking/Driving: Whether on foot or in a vehicle, you can easily see a lot of what Yellowstone has to offer by going deeper into the park. IF you’re hiking, pack enough food and water, and if you’re driving, please use an all-wheel-drive vehicle built for rough terrain.
  • Lodge: Yellowstone National Park has several lodges scattered around the park for people to live in. You can always choose to relax and visit the old faithful while staying in the luxury of a nearby lodge with hot cocoa in the evenings.


Exploring Yellowstone National Park is not limited to a group activity. It’s something you can do alone if you really want, but preferably with a few friends. You can see the park in all its glory, being undisturbed except for the trail that you leave behind, which should be nothing more than a few broken twigs and leaves.

Exploring the world alone or with a guide, you will always find something amazing and unique. So go explore, go find!

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