Yellowstone Park is Dangerous

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Yellowstone National Park, Montana

Not surprising, but seeing National Parks has never really been big on my travel bucket list. I am not a great camper and a lazy hiker so I am basically terrible at pretty much everything that has to do with being an outdoorsy kind of person.

So entering Yellowstone Park I wasn’t expecting much, until I passed that big guy less than 10 metres in, he was just walking down the highway so I slowed down to snap a photo. I wasn’t sure if bison are aggressive but he was bigger than my car so I wasn’t about to take a chance.

 

herd of bison

 

But I hadn’t stepped out from the shadow of danger, in fact as long as I was in my car I was at risk – from other drivers.  Like me, no one expected for the wildlife to be as near as it was and so every time a driver saw some kind of nature, any kind of animal, they slammed on the brakes.

After nearly rear-ending multiple drivers I realized it was best to leave a ten car gap between us.  Driving in Yellowstone has no rules, some people are polite and pull over to the side of the road if they want to get out in take a photo, but most people just slam on their brakes, get out of the car while it is still on the road, take a few photos and get back in.

 

yellowstone park

yellowstone north entrance

Sarcasm aside, it is difficult to complain about this place. After my encounter with the first bison I came across fields of them. I also saw a number of other animals.

 

yellowstone forest

I also realized just how massive Yellowstone Park really is, there was no cell phone reception the entire time and while I heard there are currently four forest fires, the only evidence was a smokey sky as I could not see or hear anything. I also learned that if humans cause the forest fires they will fight it but they leave the fires caused by nature.

My biggest regret is that I was only driving through the park, I really wish I had realized how amazing it would be so I could have planned a night or two here.

Oh well, I guess there is always “next time”. 

 

 

Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Montana but they did not request that I write a favourable review or give a driver behind me whiplash when I braked to look at those deer-like animals.

Join the Conversation

  1. Curious Nomad says:

    I wonder what the protocol is when one of those bisons is charging at you. Even worse, what the heck do you do when a bear is near you too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It may be like cows where you are supposed to hold your ground and look large – but I would definitely run.

  2. Cheryl Keit says:

    Yellowstone looks AMAZING! I’d love to go there someday.

  3. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Always next time! πŸ˜‰

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I will definitely be back in Montana, I do know that!

  4. Cam @ Traveling Canucks says:

    I’m beginning to think that you’re a closet outdoor adventure lover… πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, definitely stepping out of my shell this year for sure!

  5. Jessica - Travelling Alone says:

    What a beautiful set of pictures πŸ™‚ Only slightly terrified of the bison bigger than your car! Haha.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was indeed a bit unsettling to have an animal larger than my car walking by me.

  6. Cosmic Smudge says:

    Those deer-like creatures are called pronghorns. I was in Yellowstone in August. Great description of the park’s traffic hazards.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Ooh good to know, I’m not sure I have ever seen one before.

  7. The thing I love about buffalo is how they look like they’re wearing some sort of bad ass coat on the front.
    Also, don’t feel bad about being lazy… I like camping but… I also like my couch?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I like my couch as well!

  8. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    This is one of my dreams. While I visited National Parks traveling in Latin America, I have been to very few of them in the US.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This was my first and the rest will have a high standard to live up to.

      1. There are some great parks in the U.S., but Yellowstone is in the top 5, as far as I am concerned.
        You might want to give Glacier National Park a try. Not so many animals that are easy to see, but terrific scenery. Especially if you get off the main road.

  9. If you don’t like camping, is camping a midst animals really the best idea?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There are hotels as well! Besides I would camp just for the experience, you can do anything for one night.

  10. Agness (@Agnesstramp) says:

    I am not a great camper or a big fan of National Parks either, but this place looks nice, really worth seeing.

  11. My mom just spent the summer working at Yellowstone, and yes, it can be dangerous! But basic common sense (a trait sometimes lacking in tourists I guess) will usually get you through safely. πŸ˜‰ It sure is beautiful.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Believe me, people forgot all common sense!

  12. Ruth (Tanama Tales) says:

    This is so funny. Were people also endangering their lifes by getting out of the car to get pictures or get closer to animals (people understimated the damage a wild animal can make).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The animals seemed to be quite docile so you could get out of the car – unfortunately people didn’t pull their cars over they just parked it on the road and got out. Locals never drive through the park during the summer.

  13. Lesley Peterson says:

    I stayed in Yellowstone on a family road trip once and, despite the atmospheric old lodge, found it a pretty scary place mainly because of the unpredictable steaming ground n geysers and all the warnings posted about wolves:( Then again, this city girl isn’t that comfortable wandering around wild animals’ habitat. Being from the prairies, though, I LOVE your photos of the bison. How can one animal be so majestic and adorable at the same time?? sigh

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would like to stay in Yellowstone but definitely within the comforts of a hotel.

  14. Mmmm bison sure is tasty. Did you try it?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know I did, many times!

  15. solo female travel says:

    oUtdoor adventure is really fun and exciting specially with those huge Bison. Cool park Great post.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Bison definitely make the experience.

  16. Ashley of Ashley Abroad says:

    I would’ve been scared too… that buffalo is absolutely gigantic!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      People had mixed advice on how docile they are, I decided not to take the chance.

  17. Kieu ~ GQ trippin says:

    This is definitely on my list. It’s funny, we tend to travel to other continents for leisure and neglect something like this that is just in our backyard. A bison as big as your car?! I’ve got to see that!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I really want to see more of North America, I had no idea there would be such beauty here bordering Canada.

  18. Elle of Solo Female Nomad says:

    Ayngelina, I love the US National Parks, and wished that I had seen all of them. Yellowstone looks incredible for the wildlife alone! Great post!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Are there any others you recommend? Yellowstone will be tough to beat.

      1. Elle of Solo Female Nomad says:

        The only one that exceeds Yellowstone is Yosemite National Park; not so much for the wildlife, but for the stunning landscape. Its right up there with Yellowstone!

  19. We noticed the horrible driving right off the bat as well. I guess things move slower in Montana and we just need to go with it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes I finally learned just to take my time and enjoy the scenery.

  20. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    Yellowstone might be my favorite place in the U.S. When I saw my first buffalo there, I excitedly pulled over and took dozens of pictures. I had no idea I’d see hundreds more later that day!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The same for me, that big guy was just the first of many I saw that day.

  21. I’m so glad that your first experience in a National Park was a relatively good one. πŸ™‚ I grew up visiting, camping and hiking in National Parks, so they’re very dear to me. πŸ™‚ Just seeing your pictures made me want to hop in the car and find one to explore. πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can now see why so many people are drawn to them, it is really amazing how much land has been preserved.

  22. What breath taking country side. You should head back there for an overnight camp!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      How about an overnight hotel?

  23. I want to go but down the road. Noted.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      They take great care of the park I am sure it will be there when you want to go.

  24. Alana - Paper Planes says:

    I’ve never been to Yellowstone…or Yosemite or the Grand Canyon…I need to do a big national parks tour when I get back to the States!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This was actually my first National Park but if the others are anything like this I can see why people get so excited about them.

  25. Yellowstone definitely deserves another look! Especially Firehole River (one of the best swimming holes ever) and Boiling River (delicious hot springs outside of Mammoth Springs, MT).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Interesting…I also want to go to Glacier Park, Montana has so much to see.

  26. That’s so funny about people slamming on their brakes. I guess it makes sense; I’d probably be too excited to think to pull over as well. I really hope to visit Yellowstone one day!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I guess it’s a natural reaction to just hit the breaks when you see something amazing.

  27. Bison are massive!! I’ve never been to Yellowstone, which is just awful. I’ve heard it’s so hard to get a camping site there? Or is that just my excuse…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is definitely a popular place but I do know they keep some sites open for people who drop in each day.

  28. Emily in Chile says:

    Loving your wildlife pictures, especially since it means I can enjoy the animals without the cars.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      They were all over the place, it was incredible how they were so comfortable with cars but remained at a distance.

  29. I’ve become more and more outdoorsy over the years… but I’m more “tropical outdoorsy” than “forest outdoorsy” πŸ™‚

    Still love that bison picture!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That is such a great explanation, I think I may be tropical outdoorsy as well.

  30. I haven’t really thought much about national parks for the same reasons you hadn’t, but I do think they offer some really interesting sites. I’d love to visit, but not camp!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thankfully there are hotels!

  31. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    That bison just looks so…tasty. πŸ™‚

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s cruel but they are oh so tasty.

  32. My first & only time in Yellowstone was with my kids when they were 10ish. We were there in the winter to cross country ski. Now if you think a bison looks big from a car try to imagine how terrified my son felt when one crossed immediately in front of him on the ski trail – while the rest of the family was safely ahead. It was one of those unforgettable family moments.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That would be frightening, they seem to be fairly docile but you just never know.

  33. So, the driving experience sounds pretty much like New Zealand – tourists are the most dangerous thing on the road! But seriously, that bison picture is pretty awesome!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have been behind people who slammed on the brakes to see a deer in Nova Scotia – I was completely unprepared for that.

  34. Wow. I’m not a big camper either but this looks like a place I’d LOVE to spend a night or two in, exploring.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There are a few hotels in the park, I would definitely be seeking those out.

  35. I loved Yellowstone. I was expecting crazy crowds and drivers but actually didn’t experience that all all. We even saw grizzly bears (for a distance, thank god). Such a beautiful place.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn’t think I would be impressed by Yellowstone but was shocked at how vast and beautiful it was.

  36. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    Oh crap, I’m sure I’d be one of those people stopping at every glimpse of wildlife in order to take a photo. Pretty sure I’d be rear ended at least a dozen times πŸ˜‰

  37. Shing @ The Culture Map says:

    If this trip hasn’t turned you into an ‘outdoorsy’ person, nothing will! I’m dying to go to Yellowstone, in fact few things are higher on my bucketlist! I’ve been to Yosemite which blew me away, but with the volcanism and scary bison I think Yellowstone is the crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me of National Parks!

  38. That is an amazing shot of a Bison! I have never seen one in real life. So cool that you can get so close!

  39. Matt at LivingIF.com says:

    How about a shout out to how America made parks everyone, even non-hikers and campers, can enjoy by making great parts car-accessible. It angers many people that this is so, but isn’t it wonderful to be able to introduce more people to the spectacular scenery of a place like this?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That is a really good point. I can see why people would not like it to be car accessible but if Yellowstone did not have a major road going through it I would have never considered going to see more national parks.

  40. That bison is so cool looking and looks GYNORMOUS!! Cool fact to learn about the forest fires. It must be tough to sometimes figure out if the fire is man made or nature made though?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Natural fires are usually caused through lightning or some other fire, the manmade ones are usually started at the camps.

  41. Richard Crest says:

    Up close wildlife! You captured great image of bison.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a bit blurry but it will do.

  42. Yellowstone Park is awesome, my favourite US National Park that I’ve visited!
    The Bison are intimidating, especially when they’re walking around your campsite at night πŸ˜‰
    You’re right about the park being massive, you really need at least a few days to check out all the geysers, mountain lookouts and scenery.
    You’ll have to return to look for wolves or bears next time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You mean things that could eat me?

      1. Didn’t think of it that way, but yes! Travel is more exciting when you’re not at the top of the food chain πŸ˜‰

  43. Love the pics lady!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Only a fraction of the beautiful things I saw in the park.

  44. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke) says:

    No cellphone reception? Is that a blessing, or an example of the inferior infrastructure here in America? πŸ™‚ I got perfect cellphone reception while on safari in Africa, and was posting Facebook status updates while on game drvies! It WOULD be nice to be able to call for help if you’re charged by a bison in the middle of the park . . .

    Did you see Old Faithful?

  45. Yes, Bison can be quite dangerous. They are meaner than most people think, and they can accelerate to 35 MPH faster than many cars can. As heavy as they are, they can mangle a car door pretty good too.

    I’ve been to Yellowstone a number of times and always found that the best advice for all of the large animals is to politely pull over to the side if you want to look, and if they are close, stay in your vehicle.

    And enjoy. It’s a beautiful spot.

  46. Willow Martin says:

    Hi, great pictures. Bison are cool but they’re also wild, wild, wild. Here’s an article on one man who forgot that.

  47. Locksmith in San francisco says:

    It looks amazing and I could not found any thing dangerous in images. just follow the rule to travel adventure trips at any safari park.

  48. Indeed, Bison is often rather harmful. They may be meaner in comparison with many people believe, and they also could speed up to help 35 MPH faster in comparison with many cars could. Because major when they usually are, they can mangle a vehicle front door very good way too.

    I’ve visited Yellowstone a number of times and also constantly discovered how the ideal tips with regard to all of the big dogs is usually to pleasantly yank in excess of sideways in order to glimpse, in case there’re close, live in your car.

    And enjoy. It’s an incredible place.

  49. Neal Deaton says:

    Yellowstone park looks amazing! I really want to go there with my family.

  50. Yellowstone Park does have a lot of bison, they are quite dangerous. But other than that the park is a real beauty.

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