Visiting Yellowstone should be on everyone's bucket list; it is an experience I would recommend for anyone at almost any age.
If we had it to do over again, this is how I would optimize that experience:
1. Plan, plan, plan: Visiting Yellowstone can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so treat it accordingly. Like most national parks, Yellowstone is not a spontaneous weekend destination. Research what the park has to offer, plan well in advance, and make whatever reservations you need as early as possible. If you're not sure how to approach the task, there are ample online resources to help you plan your visit.
2. Stay in the Park: Commuting from outside Yellowstone for daily-long visits can add at least 2 hours to your driving time when you add the roundtrip. I believe it's much better to stay inside the park, especially if your visit is planned to last just a few days.
Daily activities in Yellowstone will consume all the reasonable energy you have. Adding a long commute to that will tend to diminish those wonderful experiences. So your best bet is to book early in a park campground, or choose among the park's many other lodging options.
3. Tour by Car using GyPSy Tours: In a word, Yellowstone is HUGE. There's almost too much to see without a knowledgeable guide and a lot of ground to cover, usually in a short time. You can spend a lot of money taking a day-long bus tour (we did), but I believe the most enjoyable touring as well as best value will be had using the GyPSy Tour App on your smart phone. It worked so well for us, we will never approach a new-to-us region of North America without first checking to see if the GyPSy App has a module we can use.
4. Enjoy the Park's Many Amenities: I can't recall any national park facilities that are nicer than those found in Yellowstone. There are almost too many food and shopping options at Canyon Village, Old Faithful Lodge, and Mammoth Hot Springs. Concessioners offer a variety of top notch choices to suit just about any palate or wallet throughout the park. And there are a number of resort choices at classic lodges like Old Faithful or the Lakeside Hotel, plus a diverse offering of family-oriented cabins.
5. Recreate: In addition to experiencing all of Yellowstone's natural wonders, the park offers a range of seasonal activities to be taken advantage of including hiking, wildlife viewing, nature tours, picnicking, boating, fishing, even science discovery.
And just like we discovered, you can also do a fair amount of plain old relaxing at Yellowstone-- drinking in the scenery--if that's what suits you. Click here to learn more about our 2001 NewAire.