‘Tourist Trap’ And Other Bad Reviews of Yellowstone National Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Since conservative commentator Glenn Beck was unimpressed during his recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, we decided it was time to take a look at other reviews of the park to see if anyone shared his opinion.

Beck said earlier this week that Old Faithful “smelled like a toilet” and while the experience was technically better than Disney World, the animals in Yellowstone will kill you (which is absolutely correct).

Hey, we get it. Not everyone likes communing with nature and when you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours in a place of natural wonder, it could be a little frustrating.

So, we decided to head to Yelp, the beacon website of reviews for everything from restaurants to businesses and yes, even national parks. Yellowstone currently has a 4.5 rating and when you look at the park’s Yelp page, most of the reviews are glowing.

But we don’t care about those. We wanted to see negativity and unhappiness, because, let’s face it, those reviews are the most fun.

The complaints were fairly similar: there was too much traffic, the smell of sulfur was gag-worthy and the price of admission was too high.

“I got stuck in a two hour traffic jam all because there were elk off in the distance. During the jam, 4 cop cars drove past going the other direction. They didn’t seem to care at all that cars were backed up for like 10 miles! I just couldn’t believe that these rangers let the elk do this!” C.S. of Flagstaff, Arizona wrote in his one-star review of the park in September 2020. “And did I mention the smell? Everywhere you go, there’s this lingering smell of rotten eggs. You’d think for the $35 entrance fee the park people could install some airwicks or something. Honestly, this place is just too far off the beaten path, and once you get there just SO busy. Next time I want to go see nature I think I’ll stay closer to home and go to the Joshua Tree. Now THERE is a park!”

One account dedicated solely to judging the bathrooms of various businesses, parks and anywhere else was unimpressed with the park’s toilet system, saying in a one-star review last year that with all the money Yellowstone makes, the park should be able to upgrade the restrooms.

Another one-star review from 2016 had a similar complaint, while Julieanna A. from Crestline, California, ran through a list of the park’s shortcomings in her one-star review last year.

“Took us several days to drive out with three small kids only to sit in hours of traffic as well as construction to be turned around when we got to old faithful was the worse way to end a trip,” she wrote. “We had a whole day to kill and let me tell you we killed it with waiting in traffic and lines. So not worth the time the money the hassle. Also we were in traffic so long we got out at 10:30pm to find out that there is a huge fire and all campers have been evacuated and now there are no hotel rooms available with in 100 miles.”

One person warned of being charged exorbitant prices for car repairs in the event of a breakdown inside the park.

Still others were just plain unimpressed with the world’s first national park.

“If you’ve never been to a national park before, come at our own risk. But if you have the option to go just about anywhere else (Zion, grand canyon, glacier, Yosemite, etc) I recommend seeing those instead,” Mike M. of California wrote in 2014.

“Old Faithful was as touristy and crowded as we expected it to be, and although we waited for an eruption, wilting beneath the afternoon sun, it was a boring end to our thoroughly disappointing visit to this national park,” James B. of Florida wrote in one-star, multi-paragraph review of the park in 2013.

We also looked through some reviews that aren’t recommended, meaning they don’t factor into Yellowstone’s overall rating because Yelp’s software determined the review to be untrustworthy for some reason (whether the review looks fake, the account doesn’t post reviews often or some other criteria).

“Except for the geyser better things elsewhere for less. You pay $35 to get in,  overcrowded very poor parking and extremely poor bathrooms. I drove 100 mi. Saw 1 buffalo and maybe a ram off in distance. Most areas they herd you like cattle,” Bob from Missouri wrote in a 2019 review.

“a tourist trap. don’t go there.  forest is scraggly  and burnt.  prices outrageous. Not worth it for the steam vents, mud pots, geysers. They charged me $270 for a 20 mile tow when my alternator quit. Everything about it sucked,” Tom from Nebraska wrote in his review.

Finally, although this review is clearly fake, we thought it was funny:

“Each year, the wife and I pack up the kids (our two cocker doodles) and set off to these parks in search of the mysteries the night skies have to offer. Well, here at Yellowstone we sat yawning at the bleak display they had for their scenic view and watched the sun set over our visors. I thought the star-scape was okay but Val had no sort of twinkle in her eyes. Anyways, the beam of light came down as usual and lifted us up to their craft. The chrome room they had us in didn’t even have so much as one measly chair. Just these slab tables with other naked travelers just as disappointed as we were. My first thought was “Really? Surgical implanting machines with large needles surrounding the table?” I know, such an eyesore. Val said that her reptilian hybrid birthing procedure was hardly fear inducing next to the Insectoid incision we had in 08 at Yosemite  Overall, the most drab abduction we have experienced yet. Happy to say we won’t be returning to Yellowstone and if you’re serious sky seekers like us; it’s best to skip over it,” Jeff of Pennsylvania wrote in 2015.

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