An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America’s First National Park

Robin Buck, a full-time RVer and travel blogger, shares all about her trip to Yellowstone National Park, America’s very first National Park. 

Yellowstone National Park is an amazing RV destination filled with dramatic scenery, abundant wildlife, and numerous options for outdoor fun. Every year millions of visitors are captivated by the endless beauty that spans its 3,471 square miles across parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The park is so big that it has five separate entrances!

Established in 1872, Yellowstone holds the prestigious title of being America’s first national park. Its popularity consistently draws visitors during the summer months, but if you want to avoid the crowds you might try the shoulder months in the spring and fall. For the very hearty, parts of Yellowstone are even open in the winter, although you need to be part of a snow coach or snowmobile tour group for some areas.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

There are campgrounds with many activities both inside the park and in the towns surrounding the various entrances. We stayed on Hebgen Lake, just 15 minutes west of Yellowstone where we boated, fished, and even went on trail rides and ate a great chuck wagon meal at a nearby dude ranch when we weren’t in the park. Whichever time you choose to visit, planning early is key in this popular spot. In fact, now is a great time to be booking for 2024!

Geothermal Marvels

Yellowstone sits in a 30- by 45-mile basin that was created by huge volcanic eruptions many years ago. An underground super volcano feeds the world’s largest collection of hydrothermal features, which involve heated water in the earth’s crust. The park is home to more than 10,000 of these natural wonders including geysers, hot springs, and steam vents. It is so cool to see plumes of steam floating skyward, giant water sprays, and bubbling hot pools throughout the area.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park
An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

One of the park’s most popular attractions is Old Faithful. It is the most famous geyser and was so named because of its history of faithfully erupting at predictable times (about every 90 minutes). There is even a schedule so you can plan your visit. Although I had seen pictures, nothing compared to witnessing the geyser expel 8,000 gallons of boiling water high into the air!

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

My personal favorite sight at Yellowstone is the enormous Grand Prismatic Spring. Its colors are mesmerizing! The deep blue center is surrounded by steamy rings of vibrant green, yellow, orange and red. You don’t expect to see such brilliant colors in nature, which are due to temperature-dependent algae that thrive within the spring between a very hot 149 to 189 degrees. We first did a short hike on the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail to get a great panoramic view of the spring. Then we parked near the spring to walk the wooden boardwalk out to this beautiful thermal pool where you can feel the heat and steam up close.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Wildlife Encounters

Yellowstone’s expansive wilderness provides the opportunity to observe an incredible array of wildlife in their natural habitats. The most abundant large animal is the elk which live in herds of up to 10,000! We spotted several as we drove on the main road into the park from West Yellowstone. The best animal views are during this early morning time when they tend to be more active.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Other popular animals in the park are bison, black bear, grizzly bear, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and moose. The Lamar Valley is particularly renowned for its abundant wildlife and is a great spot for photographers. It has even been nicknamed the “Serengeti of North America” for its numerous wildlife sightings.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

If encountering animals in the wild makes you a bit nervous, there is a great nonprofit park and educational center in the town of West Yellowstone. The Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center has a variety of animals, but the star attraction is the grizzly bears. These bears are unable to survive in the wild and now serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. A bonus is they do not hibernate so you can see them all the time. I loved watching them participate in testing “bear resistant” garbage containers as part of their play time.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Scenic Beauty

In addition to the geothermal features and wildlife, Yellowstone’s landscapes are a photographer’s dream. The park spans over 2.2 million acres, featuring mountain ranges, dramatic canyons, pristine lakes, and alpine meadows. You won’t have to look far to find a picturesque spot here!

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National ParkAn RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Situated in the northern section of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs is a captivating sight of beautiful travertine terraces. These stairstep-like formations are formed from deposits left after hot water rises to the surface. The soft white and beige terraces look like frozen waterfalls in a winter wonderland (even in the summer!). Boardwalks allow visitors a closer look at the unique formations and thermal features.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

One of the most photographed views in the park is at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. From a place called Artist Point you will see water plunging 300 feet over the Lower Falls and then roaring down the 1000-foot-deep canyon. We did several hikes along the north and south rim trails where overlooks provide an up-close look at the powerful rush of water at the falls. These were moderate hikes because of the terrain, but well worth it.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

If you prefer a more tranquil setting, visit the largest high-elevation lake in North America. Lake Yellowstone is 400 feet deep and has 141 miles of shoreline in the southeastern area of the park. The reflections of the surrounding mountains and forests on the lake’s surface create a mirror-like effect that is breathtaking.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Outdoor Activities

Yellowstone is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with activities to satisfy visitors of all ages. Hiking trails crisscross the park, ranging from easy walks suitable for families to challenging backcountry routes for experienced adventurers. We enjoyed a morning hike on the Purple Mountain Trail where we climbed 1500 feet over 3 miles to be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Gibbon and Madison River valley. Much of the trail is wooded and there is a register to sign when you make it to the top. Hikes are a great way to escape the crowds on a hot day.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Fishing is also a popular activity in Yellowstone, with numerous rivers and lakes offering a great place to wet a line. Permits are required and park guidelines must be followed. Boating and kayaking are also popular on Yellowstone Lake, while horseback trail rides give a unique perspective from the land. You can even enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter season of December to March when snow blankets the landscape.

An RVers Guide to Yellowstone: America's First National Park

Get Ready for Adventure!

From the awe-inspiring geothermal features to the diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, Yellowstone is the perfect place to witness the beauty of this amazing area. With so many acres to discover, you will be sure to find sights and activities that enthrall you. After visiting many national parks, Yellowstone still stands apart as one of my favorites. Plan your trip soon and be ready to make incredible memories!

Robin Buck

Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who have been traveling full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome for 5 years. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends and discovering America one stop at a time. Robin writes about their travel adventures, RVing tips, and the full-time RV lifestyle on her blog RVing with Robin.

Glacier National Park: Crown of the Continent

Robin Buck, a full-time RVer and travel blogger, shares her firsthand experience with NIRVC.

Visiting some of our country’s beautiful national parks is often at the top of many RVers’ bucket lists. After all, it is the perfect way to appreciate nature in a very up-close and personal way. While we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in each national park we’ve been to, some of them really stand out as favorites. One that is at the top of my list is Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is located about as far north as you can go in the wilderness of northern Montana. We were so close to Canada that our phones even dinged with a “Welcome to Canada” message! Nicknamed the “Crown of the Continent,” this park’s 1 million acres are home to stunning mountains, frozen glaciers, thundering waterfalls, pristine lakes, glorious meadows, and an abundance of wildlife. This vast diversity offers something for everyone whether you choose to enjoy it by car, from a boat tour, or on foot on one of the many hiking trails.

Going to the Sun Road

By far the #1 attraction in Glacier National Park is the Going to the Sun Road. This 50-mile-long scenic drive crosses the park from east to west and offers some of the most breathtaking natural views in the country. The narrow road hugs the mountainside as you twist and turn your way up and over the Continental Divide. At the top, Logan’s Pass is the highest point in the park that can be reached by car at 6,646 ft in elevation. There’s a visitor center here and trailheads for two of the park’s most popular hikes: Hidden Lake Nature Trail and the more strenuous Highline Trail.

Driving the length of this national historic landmark can take several hours, depending on traffic and how many times you stop. There are numerous turnouts and parking areas where you can take a break to stretch your legs, take photos, and admire the stunning views. I especially recommend stops at the Jackson Glacier Overlook, Triple Arches, and the Weeping Wall. If you do nothing else in the park, this road will give you a sense of Glacier’s rugged terrain and towering mountain peaks. As you enjoy the view of alpine meadows and wildflower fields, be on the lookout for grizzly bears, mountain goats, deer, and bighorn sheep to name just a few.

St. Mary Entrance

If you start your journey on the eastern side of Glacier National Park, you will come in through the Saint Mary entrance. There is a nice visitor center here where you can speak to a ranger, get trail information, buy souvenirs, or get your park passport book stamped. As you begin up the Going to the Sun Road, one of the first things you will come to is Saint Mary Lake. It is the second largest of the park’s over 700 lakes!

You can enjoy lots of nature opportunities in this area without even going very far into the park. We loved the different perspective we got as we rode on a boat tour and learned more about Saint Mary Lake. The tour includes a stop at Sunrift Gorge where a short walk leads to the rushing waters of Baring Falls. There are also several other hikes to waterfalls in this area. The Sun Point nature trail leads to an overlook with spectacular views of Saint Mary Lake and the mountains looming above it. This spot is especially magnificent at sunset! You can also see the tiny Wild Goose Island popular from the opening scenes of The Shining movie.

West Glacier Entrance

If you enter the park from the western side, you can stop in the Apgar Visitor Center or visit the nearby shops and watersports rentals. Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park and offers many water recreation opportunities, as well as wonderful photo ops of its popular colored pebbles. At the northern end of the lake, you can look over McDonald Falls where brilliant aquamarine water rushes towards the lake.

Other popular sights on the western end of the park include Avalanche Creek and the Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail. This wheelchair accessible trail winds its way into the forest of towering old-growth cedar and hemlock trees. Some of these ancient trees are estimated to be 500 years old! As you walk through the lush forest with its tall trees, ferns, and mosses make sure to stop for a photo at the footbridge over Avalanche Creek. The power of the water rushing through the gorge is stunning.

Many Glacier Entrance

If you want to explore another fascinating and popular part of Glacier National Park, the Many Glacier area is full of jaw-dropping landscapes as well as lots of trails and wildlife. The entrance is about 17 miles north of the St Mary entrance on the eastern side of the park. I suggest stopping for lunch at the historic Many Glacier Hotel or taking a sightseeing boat ride on Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes.

If you want to hit the trails, there are lots of hikes to choose from with something for all levels. We hiked to Grinnell Lake which amazed us with its turquoise waters and numerous waterfalls tumbling down the steep cliffs of the glacier. Those up for a more strenuous challenge can hike all the way up to Grinnell Glacier or try the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. It’s a very “cool” experience to stand on a massive glacier!

Know Before You Go

Glacier National Park is one of the parks where timed entry tickets are required during the busy summer months. In addition to the park entry fee, you must go online at and reserve a timed entry ticket ahead of your visit. If you are not able to get a timed ticket, you can always enter the park before or after the designated ticket hours. We found that going into the park before the opening hours allowed us to deal with less traffic and increased our chances of spotting wildlife or getting a peaceful lake picture with the mountain reflection.

It’s important to note that there are size restrictions on Going to the Sun Road, so it’s best to leave the RV at the campground for this adventure. There are campgrounds in the towns just outside both the eastern and western sides of the park that can accommodate big rigs. If you don’t want to do the driving, you can opt to take the park shuttle bus or sign up for a guided Red Bus Tour.

Weather is also a concern when visiting this northern park. The Going to the Sun Road typically opens in late June or early July each year after the snow is plowed. We encountered snow along many areas even after the road was open in late June during our visit, so if you want to see more wildflowers and less snow then visit later in the summertime.

Beauty Abounds in this Park

As its name implies, you will see massive glaciers in this park along with the hundreds of lakes and valleys that they helped to form over millions of years. Spectacular mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls are around every bend. We marveled at the plant and animal species that thrive here and were excited to see more wildlife here than any other park we visited including bear, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots. We truly couldn’t believe how amazing the views were no matter where we looked.


Glacier National Park is an explorer’s paradise, and there are so many areas not even mentioned here. You could spend a week or two in the park and not see it all. Whether you choose the exhilarating Going to the Sun Road, water fun on one of the many lakes, or an incredible hike to see a glacier, you will not be disappointed. An RV trip to Glacier National Park is one you will remember forever.


Robin Buck

Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who have been traveling full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome for 5 years. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends and discovering America one stop at a time. Robin writes about their travel adventures, RVing tips, and the full-time RV lifestyle on her blog RVing with Robin.