Do you love spending time outside and observing wildlife? What about gazing at incredible waterfalls and hiking through forested areas that are wrapped in different hues of green? If so, you’d undoubtedly love Yellowstone National Park in the summer. Even if you somehow answered “no” to the above questions (you monster!), you’d probably still love Yellowstone.
Why? Well, because a number of these incredible sights can be seen without having to leave the comfort of a car for more than ten minutes at a time. That’s right, most of the beautiful photos you see of Yellowstone are taken not too far from a parking lot. The accessibility this park offers to those with limited mobility, those who have young kids, and those who retired their hiking boots long ago makes it a very there’s-something-for -everyone type of park.
Many geysers, falls, and other scenic views can be experienced without too much physical exertion.
Many Famous Sights Are Near Parking Lots, But Parking is a Challenge in the Summer Months
You know how you eagerly booked your flight to Jackson Hole to experience summer in Yellowstone and the Tetons? Well, so did many, many other people from all over the world. Around four million people flock to Yellowstone every year — this is an incredibly busy park.
The challenge isn’t completing a difficult hike to see the famous waterfalls or geological features, it’s TIMING. There are people everywhere. Bus tours are really popular, and tourists in their rental cars abound. Parking can be a huge issue, meaning there is a realistic possibility you’ll lose your patience trying to find a place to park before you get to actually see the sight you want to observe at that overlook. Of course, this is assuming you rented a car. If you go on a large bus tour, you won’t have to deal with parking, but you’ll have to be OK with being around giant groups of people. On a public bus tour, there is no way to escape the crowd.
The Solution to Parking Issues
So how do you best attempt to avoid being sandwiched between a ton of people and cursing in front of your family or friends as you pass another totally full parking lot? You hire a private driver.
While it sounds like a high-maintenance solution, it simplifies travel a good deal and allows you to save on time, gas, and endless frustrations. If possible, it’s worth it to budget this into your vacation.
We Loved Our Private Driver, Grant
Our experience with our private driver, Grant, was wonderful. He picked us up every morning from our hotel in a large SUV that had all types of comfort features. He had iced drinks and salty and sweet snacks ready for us at any given time. The man even bought us all huckleberry ice cream – a local favorite – as a surprise treat when we stopped at a store in the park. Seriously, he was like a part of the family by the end of the trip. Here he is (in the blue shirt) – part of the fam!
If you couldn’t care less about the creature comforts, allow me to further explain why an expert private driver is the way to go:
They Know the Parks Really Well
Do you remember how I said timing is the biggest challenge at Yellowstone National Park? Well, Grant already knew this. He made executive decisions with our itinerary to make certain that we got to visit the spots we really wanted to see at a time that wasn’t too crowded. Of course, there’s no guarantee as to how many people are or aren’t going to be in an area, but Grant did a great job shielding us from the crowds.
They Know Where the Nearest Facilities Are
This seems trivial, but when you are in need of facilities, you’ll be happy you have someone with you that knows where to go. Cell service and Internet aren’t always available in these parts, so don’t count on your iPhone or Android to help you out.
They Know Where the Wildlife is
One of the biggest benefits of hiring Grant to drive us around the parks was that he knew where to find the wildlife. He has spent so much time inside the parks and knows what animals are where. As we would drive by an area, he would tell us to keep our eyes peeled for the elk that are usually around that part of the park. He also made certain to drive us by land where the bison can usually be seen. Of course, he didn’t guarantee we would see any specific animal, but he did take us to areas where he has often seen a dense wildlife population. As a result, we got to observe pronghorns, mule deer, chipmunks, bison, a black bear, and even a grizzly bear! We marveled at all of these animals from
a safe distance and usually while inside a car. We were walking around when we saw the elk and chipmunks – two of the lesser intimidating animals.
They Know Where to Grab Some Good Food
Unless you bring a meal with you, you’ll probably have to stop at one of the stores or restaurants around the park for food. We were already incredibly hungry when we realized that we should maybe stop somewhere for provisions. But where? And are there long waits to be seated? Grant knew all of the eateries like the back of his hand and could even tell us how long we’d probably have to wait at the different establishments. I was super hungry, so I was beyond happy when he drove us to the diner that offered the quickest service. He even made sure we went to a place that had vegetarian options, as I tend to stick with veggie-heavy options.
They Are Parking Experts
No matter how smooth your parking skills usually are, the car situation in Yellowstone has the potential to make you feel like you are in a scene from a Chevy Chase National Lampoons movie. Instead of dealing with parking logistics, have your driver drop you off and let them handle the parking. There’s nothing worse than getting all excited to see the next waterfall and discovering there’s no nearby parking available.
Hiring a driver can be the difference between getting to see all the sights you want to in the time you have available or going home without experiencing all you want to see and do.
They Can Take You to Some Hidden Gems
Grant took us to one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots away from the crowds. If we had rented a car or taken a bus tour, we surely never would have found this place. A private driver will most likely know where these quiet, gorgeous areas are and can take you to the sights you otherwise might not get to see.
With all of this being said, it’s totally possible to drive yourself or take a bus tour and have a phenomenal time. Hiring a private driver is certainly the most convenient option, however, and I think you’ll really enjoy the experience if you do it.
Also, it’s worth noting that we used a rental car for all of our activities outside of the Yellowstone area. We did not experience parking or overcrowding issues in Teton Village, Grand Teton National Park, or other areas around Jackson Hole.
Get in Touch
If you plan on venturing to the Yellowstone area, including Jackson Hole, let me know. I’m happy to send you the information on the company Grant works for. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.