Yellowstone National Park is a geological wonder that is a result of previously being on a hotspot for volcanic activity. The hotspot that gave birth to Yellowstone's steaming geysers and artistic landscape may have shifted, but Yellowstone is not a passive volcanic area.
Each season is spectacular and reveals another facet of the park that is different from each of the other seasons. Whichever season you decide to visit, exploring this vast area is best done on foot.
Packing supplies and adequate clothing is an essential part of planning for the trip, and purchasing Yellowstone
travel insurance or
visitors medical insurance
should also be a part of it, too. Visitors insurance helps protect you against the risk of any unexpected financial burdens that might result from a potential illness or injury, while travel insurance protects your finances against cancellation of the trip.
Five Things to Do in Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is a vast area, and the best activities differ by season. Your options include:
Upper Geyser Basin Boardwalk and Old Faithful
It takes about four hours to cover this whole trail, but it's worth the exertion! Go early in the morning (before it gets too hot) or at dusk if you want to catch a glimpse of Old Faithful erupting. Do check when it's scheduled to erupt, and also look into the other geysers along the trail to make the best of this outing. If you find a crowd, you can grab a beer or have an ice cream while seated on the observation deck. The food might be overpriced, but it's a good way to avoid the crowd and watch Old Faithful erupt.
Mammoth Hot Springs
A fascinating fact about these travertine terraces: They change roughly every five years. They are also thought to have been built by the earliest forms of life on earth. If you enter the park through the north entrance, you will notice them right away. A boardwalk is a good way to explore the upper and lower terraces. You can drive to explore the upper terrace, and there's parking available there that allows you to walk around for a better view once you get there. Walking to the site will be more tedious, as you will need to cross busy streets multiple times.
If you are fit enough to climb over 300 steps, take Uncle Tom's trail to explore Yellowstone Canyon. It's worth taking the trail with the surety of seeing a rainbow and feeling the spray of the falls. The Canyon has upper and lower falls, and the “true yellow” walls of the Canyon can be blinding during the day. The trail is also a good way to observe the local birds – ospreys, to be specific.
Partake in the Ranger Program
This is a free experience that you should not miss during your trip to Yellowstone. Programs change every year, but you will find more between May and September. A ranger will lead every hike, enlightening you about the park's natural and human histories. There's storytelling around campfires and camping under the stars too. It's the best way to learn about Yellowstone, and all you need to do is book a tour for a specific time.
As most of the beautiful spots in Yellowstone will demand strenuous hikes and walks, Lamar Valley will be a welcome respite. Often dubbed as the Serengeti of the U.S., it's a good place to observe the local wildlife. The best time to view animals in the open is at dawn or dusk. Also, you can check out Hayden Valley. You can explore this valley while driving between Lake Village and Canyon Village. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and elk, bison, and grizzly bears can also be spotted.
Key Guidelines for Travelers to Yellowstone
Soaking in the beauty of Yellowstone is an eye-opening experience that might change your perspective on things. As with every location, you need to be cautious and prepare for any possible mishaps or health problems in advance.
Not many predators will attack if you remain a safe distance from them. Attacks usually occur only if an animal, say a grizzly bear, is startled from a close distance. Respect the distance, and observe them from afar without disturbing them. Travel in groups when you go hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing, and carry bear spray with you in case you encounter an aggressive bear on your path. If you find an injured animal or an animal in distress, alert the local authorities to the location of the animal. Don't try to tend to it or pick it up, as wild animals are often hosts to disease-causing germs.
You need to update all your vaccines and have your dog take a rabies shot if you are bringing them. Talk to your doctor first for a general checkup and to check in with any pre-existing medical conditions. Make reservations in advance in the many lodges and cabins if you're not going to be camping. If you're out in the open, pack insect repellent and heaters.
Pets are allowed in the park, but they can't go with you on any boardwalks, hiking trails, or nature trails. They need to be in their crate or on a leash at all times and are only allowed outside at the parking lot and campground. The restrictions are very reasonable. Yellowstone is a national park, home to many wild animals that might transmit diseases to your pet or hurt them.
Pack for the Cold
Even in summer months, tourists have reported sleet, light snow, and freezing rain. This is especially important information if you intend to spend your time camping. Have a heater, extra blankets, and raincoats with you at all times. Yellowstone seems to be in a unique ecosystem with its own local weather. Bring the extras with you to avoid buying them at exorbitant rates.
Yellowstone is wild and has few cell towers that will only give you limited connectivity. Expect to be cut off from the outside world as you traverse the park. The visitor center and certain lodges will have connectivity and WiFi signals, though expect it to get weaker and more erratic as you enter into the vast expanses of uninterrupted wilderness.
Visitors Medical Insurance for Travelers Visiting Yellowstone - FAQs
You're heading to Yellowstone to view all its rugged beauty. Getting seriously injured or falling sick from the weather isn't uncommon. Visitors medical insurance is your guard against financial pitfalls that may arise due to unexpected health problems that occur during your time in the park.
Why buy visitors medical insurance before traveling to Yellowstone?
You can't foresee accidents, illnesses, or injuries, and without medical insurance, getting treated in the U.S. will prove to be prohibitively expensive. Buy visitors medical insurance to save money and panic if you face an unexpected medical emergency.
What should I look for in my Yellowstone visitors medical insurance?
Your first decision should be whether to purchase a plan with fixed or comprehensive coverage. Generally, fixed coverage plans are cheaper but provide a lower level of coverage. You'll be proud of yourself for saving money—until you discover the plan pays only a limited percentage of a $45,000 hospital bill, and the rest is your responsibility. It is almost always recommended to purchase a comprehensive coverage plan, as these plans are better suited to meet the high cost of medical treatment in the U.S.
Also, be sure to purchase a plan with coverage for emergency medical evacuation and acute onset of pre-existing conditions. You should also make sure your plan is extendable in case your trip runs longer than planned.
Trip Cancellation Insurance for Travelers Visiting Yellowstone - FAQs
Trip cancellation is always hard to predict and unfortunate when it happens. Work, a sudden death in the family, or flight cancellations can throw off your plans in a heartbeat. For such uncertain scenarios, trip cancellation insurance is your safety net against the financial losses of planning and paying for a trip you won't get to take.
Why should I get trip cancellation insurance for my Yellowstone travel?
Trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you for your prepaid, non-refundable trip expenses if you have to cancel for a reason covered under your policy. Be sure to thoroughly review the fine print before purchase so you understand what reasons are (and aren't) covered. To be eligible, you should insure the full cost of your trip as early as possible.
What should I look for in my Yellowstone travel insurance?
Check if your insurance offers coverage on the basic risks inherent to Yellowstone National Park. If you're planning any adventure sports activities, be sure the plan covers them. If not, you can purchase an add-on hazardous sports travel insurance plan designed to cover activities with a higher-than-average level of risk.
Compare at least three plans before you choose one. Roughly, your insurance should include coverage for trip delay for a covered reason, trip cancellation for a covered reason, trip interruption coverage for a covered reason, as well as ancillary benefits like baggage loss, emergency cash transfers, rental car coverage, and ID theft assistance.
Before You Travel to Yellowstone, Do This
Check your belongings, and pack adequately for Yellowstone. Make sure you keep all of your important travel documents (photo ID, passport, plane tickets) in a safe place, and carry a first aid kit on you at all times.
Also, buy adequate Yellowstone travel insurance for yourself and your traveling companions for a worry-free trip. Be sure to spend time comparing your options so you can pick a plan that matches your itinerary, your destination, and your travel budget. We wish you an exhilarating trip to Yellowstone!