Dear RV Shrink:
We are in Yellowstone and we don’t have a reservation. We had no idea that half the world would be here visiting the same time we arrived. We cannot find a place to camp and have no choice but to leave the park and pay commercial rates on the fringes.
I want to stay and fight the crowds, but my husband wants to leave and try again sometime in the future with reservations. I say we will run into the same problem everywhere else — let’s stay and fight.
Is this what we have to look forward to as we begin our grand retirement adventure? —Crowd Control in Gardiner
Dear Crowd Control:
I feel your pain. Last year more than 4 million people from all over the world visited Yellowstone. The park superintendent was quoted in the May issue of National Geographic. He basically said numbers of visitors would have to be limited or plan on irreparable damage to the resource. Even off-season it is hard to explore Yellowstone. Getting a camping site is only the beginning. You then have to fight for a parking space at every attraction trailhead.
You will eventually learn to time your visits to some of the most popular attractions in America. Off-season will be better, but not trouble-free. Spring and fall find many campgrounds not open or already closed for the season. This leaves fewer sites for all those lucky enough to travel during those seasons.
Even though I hate making reservations, I always do at Yosemite and Yellowstone. It has almost become a necessity. Many parks in Utah are the same way spring and fall. People from around the world fly into Vegas, rent some type of RV and balloon the visitation numbers to Utah’s many natural wonders.
It is not as bad as it sounds. It can be managed, but when people first start traveling with an RV, often they have never considered this situation. You will learn to deal with it.
We seldom move on busy weekend days like Friday and Saturday. On Sunday many people are heading home after a weekend of camping, and numerous spots open up early. We find Sunday a great day to snag sites in busy areas.
Yellowstone is so large you almost have to stay in several different geographical areas to tour the park. Border towns do have commercial parks, but it is not as enjoyable as staying in park campgrounds and getting the real feel of incredible Yellowstone.
Leaving or playing campground bingo on the computer, trying to snag a site, is your option. Just don’t give up visiting this special place. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink