When we think of the Fourth of July, we think of barbecue and fireworks outside or, short of that, watching them on television.
And while Yellowstone National Park does not fit the bill of traditional Fourth of July celebrations, it is nonetheless an excellent place to be, celebrating the United States of America. Yellowstone was created as a monument, set aside in the spirit of American heritage. It was a gift to the future, but in the present, it is a testament to the bounty of America’s environmental riches.
Luckily, Yellowstone is ready to oblige anyone wanting to spend his or her Fourth in the Park. Yellowstone will be completely open. Road construction will cease between 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 3 and 7 a.m. Monday, July 7 to accommodate visitors.
Of course, just because it’s a national holiday doesn’t mean that the rules will be slackened in Park boundaries. Visitors are still expected to stick to boardwalks, maintain safe distances between wildlife and maintain the speed limit while driving. Drivers are asked to exercise extra caution around the Fourth of July in Yellowstone, since the Park is expecting a high number of visitors.
Fireworks are prohibited in Park boundaries, although many of the Park’s gateway communities will be holding ceremonies.
Of course, if you’re concerned about what to do in Yellowstone National Park on the Fourth of July, fret not. Below are a few suggestions about how to best enjoy the Fourth in Yellowstone:
- Have Lunch and/or Dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room
If you’re hungry for barbecue on the Fourth of July, then Roosevelt is your destination. Lunch and dinner is when you can get all the barbecue/grilled victuals, although the Dining Room also serves cowboy style breakfasts. Offering baby back ribs, mesquite chicken, Tex-Mex, sirloin, burgers (both bison and beef) and brats, this Dining Room is sure to sate your Fourth of July cravings. Be sure and get your meal with a side of the Roosevelt Beans.
- Visit Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
Besides the geyser plains, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is the Park’s most splendorous attraction. The feature itself is entwined, not only in Yellowstone history, but national history as well. Famed landscape artist Thomas Moran established his reputation on a series of paintings made of the Canyon during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. These paintings, along with photographs of William Henry Jackson (a fellow artist on the trip) helped inspire Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant to preserve the Park for all time. Moran’s paintings still hang in the Smithsonian; one even hangs in the Oval Office. So, when you visit Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, you’re not only visiting a geologic marvel, you’re visiting a tangible artifact of America’s development.
- Walk Back To Morning Glory
Tucked in the back of the Upper Geyser Basin, Morning Glory has seen better days. Victim to visitor desecration in years past, the pool has lost some of its signature luster. Nonetheless, it is a stunner and the trek there—via the straight asphalt walk or the winding boardwalk trail—brings you into the heart of some of the world’ most stunning scenery.
- Take the Firehole Canyon Drive
Two miles, one way: the Firehole Canyon Drive near Madison Junction offers visitors a relaxing break from the congestion surrounding geyser plains and main visitor junctions. The road hugs the cliffs, bringing you into a cloister of pines and waterfalls.
- Take the Firehole Lake Drive
Since we’re talking Firehole here, the Firehole Lake Drive, just down the way from the Canyon Drive, is also a welcome break more congested areas of the Park. If you’re lucky and/or patient, you could see White Dome Geyser erupt; otherwise the drive is a pleasant one, bringing you past roadside bubblers and bigger attractions like the eponymous Lake.
- Stop by Fountain Paint Pots
This is one of the most popular areas in Yellowstone for a reason, with its exemplary array of paint pots—bubbling clay and silica mixtures—as well as stunning pools and Clepsydra Geyser, which erupts constantly.
- Eat A Bowl of Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream
A Montana staple since 1912, Wilcoxson’s is available all over the Park, although the best places to get it are at the Old Faithful Inn, from the loft in the Yellowstone General Store by the Snow Lodge and the Lake General Store.