Yellowstone National Park 2014 – Planning Our Trip

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Yes, you read that title correct. John and I have finalized our plans for a road trip to Yellowstone Summer 2014. We couldn’t be more excited and the thoughts and visions of Yellowstone won’t leave our heads. I’m not complaining!

Why Yellowstone? Well, we have always wanted to go out west. I wrote about this when I decided that John and I needed to take a trip somewhere, and why somewhere meant going west. It’s BEAUTIFUL, and I love being surrounded by nature. Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Roosevelt Tower and Lake Yellowstone – it’s amazing how much there is to see (and how much of it we won’t see).

Recently we decided that instead of spending a mere two days in Yellowstone and two in Denver we would skip Denver and devote the entire trip to Yellowstone. After thinking about it more, we also made different decisions on our lodging and meals.

Yellowstone 2014: Planning Our Best Vacation Yet

(Photo of the Prismatic Springs, shared from Yellowstone National Park’s Facebook Page)

Camping vs Not Camping

Our mail goals for the trip are:

  • Sightseeing – basking in the gorgeous landscape
  • Hiking and biking our way through non-touristy areas
  • Having fun! It is a vacation, after all.

See, Yellowstone is not only huge, it’s also very different from what we are used to. We both admitted to not being experienced campers and instead of worrying or fretting over our camping site, equipment and dealing with things we just aren’t used to, we decided to scratch the camping and instead stay in two of Yellowstone’s beautiful lodges.

There are several modern and primitive options all throughout the park. Our residences will be basic hotel rooms with a shower and bed but the lodges have full service dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is definitely different (albeit better) than the primitive options we would have if we camped.

Little did I know that if we didn’t explore these indoor options, we may have been upset with ourselves for losing out on the ability to taste beers from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Utah, all available in the lodges we are staying at. Who said this trip wouldn’t involve craft beer?

And the dining, oh the dining menus… from fresh bison and elk to fish from Lake Yellowstone, the menus may be the death of me. I know, it’s vacation, you have to indulge at least a little, right? Exactly. John’s just as excited.


We are constantly learning more and more about all of the amazing attractions within Yellowstone. While it would be impossible to think we could see it all, we started a priority list of places we know we HAVE to go see:

  • Old Faithful – we’re staying at the Old Faithful Inn just feet away from Old Faithful so we shouldn’t have any problem seeing this one right off the bat
  • Prismatic Spring – high on our list, this colorful place should be one of the Wonders of the World
  • Yellowstone Lake – located near Old Faithful, I’d love to take a boat out on the water
  • Grand Tetons – if everything works out we’ll have half a day devoted to seeing it
  • Mammoth Hot Springs – we’re also staying at this hotel so we should be able to see the hot springs while we’re there
  • Mountains, plains, wildlife – all hopefully within our reach at the park

I’m hoping there’s time to see more but this is a great start to our research. We’re reading travel maps from the library to see what biking and hiking trails are out there. Since we’re visiting in a busy season it’s suggested that we arrive to attractions by 11am if we want to grab a parking space.

Depending on the cost, we may get a bike rack for the Subaru so we can bring our own bikes. I think renting them is a cost we could avoid, but a bike rack also means adding a hitch, another cost. But that’s okay, because there’s still time to figure all of this stuff out!

There and back

When we thought about going to Denver, we would have taken I-70 West and then I-90 back. Since we’re only going to Yellowstone it makes sense to take I-90 there and back. This means two days of 11 hour drives: from here to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stay over, then drive 11 hours to Yellowstone. I’m not too worried – this is what I bought a Subaru Forester for!

Unfortunately we won’t be able to explore Mount Rushmore or the Chief because we’ll be tight on time. This trip will require 6 vacation days for me and 5 for John. It will be our longest ever trip together and each time we sit down to plan some of it together I get super excited and happy.

It goes without saying, we are STOKED for this trip. If you’ve been to Yellowstone and have any tips to share, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear about your favorite trails, sights, and must-do’s! In the mean time, I’m posting inspiration, mostly photos, on Pinterest as a way to feed some of my impatience with waiting until next Summer. You can find it here:

Wanderlust Pinterest Board

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  • LeeAnn Barnard

    If you decide to put a trailer hitch on the Subaru, we have a really nice bike rack you are welcome to borrow. For reals. :)

    • solidgoldeats

      I will mos def let you know!!!

  • Kathy Ingels Helmond

    Hey Sara – we took a family trip to Yellowstone in September! It was awesome, you will love it. And we did a day trip to the Grand Tetons – absolutely beautiful and looked very bike friendly. Also try the Snake River Brewery in Jackson, right outside Grand Tetons National Park. The library has lots of travel guides! =)

    • solidgoldeats

      The library DOES have a lot – I’m reading an ebook I borrowed right now and it has tons of day trip ideas. If you spot one that seems interesting let me know!