RENT AN RV. For Yellowstone, I highly recommend renting an RV. This way, you can visit any part of the park and have your “room” ready at a moment’s notice for meals, snacks and nap time. Yellowstone is huge and driving from a point of interest back to a hotel room or camping spot will take up most of your day.
You can rent an RV where you live and drive to Yellowstone, or fly to Jackson, WY and rent an RV from there. Cruise America is stationed in Jackson. Jackson is about an hour’s drive south of Yellowstone.
PLAN AHEAD. Having a great vacation with a little one can be done with advance planning. There’s no more jumping on a plane and figuring it out when you get there. You need to work out where you’ll stay and what you need to buy or rent upon arrival, before ever leaving home.
Things you’ll need:
- What you’ll pack list
- Grocery list
- Grocery store location
- Baby gear list
- Rental RV information (drop off and pick up times and dates)
- Hotel information (if your flight arrives after the RV rental place closes)
- Taxi information for ride to airport
- Flight information
- Maps of Yellowstone and surrounding area
RESERVE RV SPOT EARLY! Yellowstone fills up early, so make sure you make reservations as soon as you know your travel plans. Check your dates with the campground reservation and RV pick up dates to make sure it will all work out. Only one campground has full RV hookup – Fishing Bridge.
RENT BABY GEAR. The things you’ll need for an enjoyable trip with your 1 year old are unfortunately large. You’ll need a car seat, a stroller, a child backpack (for the places with steps or longer hikes that aren’t stroller accessible), a booster seat, and a pack ‘n play. While you can pack many of these things and bring them on the plane, it’s easy to rent them in Jackson, WY. One place that does this is Baby’s Away.
A pack ‘n play does fit (it’s tight) in the aisle of the Cruise America RV. If you have twins, two pack ‘n plays fit in the C30 RV. Bring your own crib sheets.
Two car seats fit on the dining area seat. However, only one is designed for a car seat. The other will be a little loose as the seat belt is not designed to tighten down on a car seat.
GROCERY SHOP BEFORE GOING INTO THE PARK. Yes, you can get a lot of what you’ll need at the Yellowstone General Stores. $4 loaf of bread, anyone? Have your grocery list and shop at a regular grocery store before going into the park.
If you plan to shop at Albertson’s in Jackson, WY, make sure you get and take along their member card. It’s free and will save you a lot of money. There’s a reason that the Jackson Albertson’s is the highest grossing store in the chain. If you have the card, you will pay normal prices for groceries rather than tourist prices.
TAKE IT SLOW! You won’t be able to see as many things in one day as you did before you had a baby. If you try, you will wear out your little one and lots of crying will ensue. Plan for one area of the park a day. For example, see Old Faithful and the surrounding geyser basin in one day, and that’s it. See Mammoth Hot Spring in one day, and that’s it.
KEEP YOUR TODDLER’S SCHEDULE. As much as possible, keep to your child’s schedule. They will be over stimulated with all the new sights and sounds and pushing them too hard will make your life bad. Use the RV to eat at the same meal and snack times. Use the RV to take a nap when they need it. You can probably have a naptime while driving, but it won’t be as good as a nap in the pack ‘n play. Having the RV, you can also have the same foods your toddler is used to instead of trying to introduce new foods to them that they may refuse
PLAN TIME FOR YOUR TODDLER. In a lot of the places, a toddler needs to be in a stroller or backpack because it is dangerous if they go off the trail. If they are confined every day to the stroller and backpack, they won’t be happy. Find places where they can safely roam around. For example, Artist’s Point is a good location to see an amazing view and let your little one wander.