During our trip to Bozeman, Montana last week, we explored Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park! This attraction was actually the only thing we saw, (beside loads of buffalo) because the rest of the park was closed for winter! Berty and I were total dummies and didn’t look at the dates of when the park was opening, so we arrived a few weeks too early with limited park access. However, the good thing about 5% of the park being open was that we got it practically to ourselves!
We started driving at 6am and arrived super early at Yellowstone. Before leaving Bozeman, my sister took us to a place called Cafe M (where we literally showed up the very second they opened, ha!) and she introduced us to the best breakfast burritos on the planet. No trip is without fuel, and this place is a must-stop if you are seeking energy for the day ahead. (Thanks Katie!)
When we arrived at Mammoth Hot Springs, we walked the boardwalks at our own, slow pace, soaking in all that we could see! There’s a beauty about this place when you can truly observe the water patterns, colors, and details up close and without an agenda.
Get The Look:
It’s been fun testing out our new camera. Berty recently purchased a second one to help him with his wedding photography, but when he’s not shooting weddings we get to take two on our adventures! Photography is a slow and complicated (but fun!) learning process for me. Kind of like learning a new language – inclusive with a list of vocabulary terms like aperture, al servo, ISO, bokeh, exposure, etc. It’s all so exciting!
You’re probably wondering why it looks like we are the only people here. Well, besides two older women bird watching and taking photos, we were! Our mistake of not reading ahead to Yellowstone Park openings came with a few awesome perks. Crowds were nowhere to be found!
How to Get The Park (Or Any Other Place) All To Yourself
While this technically isn’t doable (unless you have like a million dollars to rent out the whole park – but can you even do that??) we know some tricks to avoiding crowds at some of your most favorite spots. This way, you can enjoy the scenery with little/no crowds involved!
Really. This is the NUMBER ONE thing you must do if you really want to avoid crowds. We’re talking literally the-second-the-park-opens early. For example, on our recent trip to Paris we woke up early every day, which resulted in a nearly-empty Louvre Museum and the sunrise over a quiet Eiffel Tower. If you’re totally not a morning person, luckily for you, we wrote a blog post to help you get up for adventures just like this one.
Come During Shoulder Season
Shoulder season is the time to describe the months in between peak season and off season in any given place. You can google “Shoulder Season _______(place)” to figure out when those times would be for your specific destination. This means that we arrived at Yellowstone / Mammoth Hot Springs probably at the *very* beginning of shoulder season, with far less crowds, colder temperatures, and fewer things open. If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, take some advice from us and go in April/May OR September. Any other time, like June-August, you’ll greet the summer vacationers who are trying to squeeze every last drop out of their precious summer!
The park belongs to all visitors and they have the freedom to come and go as they please. If someone is in the way of your view, be patient, let them enjoy the scenery, and you can soak it in once they are out of your way. There is enough room for all to enjoy.
Leave No Trace
Just because there are less crowds doesn’t mean you can get away with straying off the marked paths. Be considerate of the millions of people who will see the park after you. No Instagram shot is worth ruining a preserved piece of land. As Emily Noyd wrote for the Outbound Collective, “Leave No Trace Over Likes”. Berty and I believe it’s more important to preserve nature over a few likes on social media.
Want To Know How To Get To Mammoth Hot Springs?
By Plane: Land in the Bozeman/Yellowstone International Airport for the shortest drive.
By Car: From Bozeman, drive East on 1-90 for about 30 miles and then turn south on to Highway 89. You’ll reach Yellowstone after about an hour of driving (total drive time, 1.5 hours)
Cost of Admission: $30/car (But the pass lasts an entire week, so keep it!)
Have you ever been to Yellowstone or Mammoth Hot Springs? We’re definitely looking to book a return trip – what have been your favorite spots in the park?
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