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Yellowstone: April 19-23?

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I am thinking of going out to Yellowstone for a visit from April 19th through the 23rd. I would not say this will be my only chance to make the trip, but it is a rare opportunity. Due to the nature of my work, making a trip in summer would be very difficult.

I looked through their site and realized none of the lodging in the park will be open. The 'projected' date for all interior roads to open is April 16th but it looks like they expect some may open before that.

This is not a family trip. It would be me and likely one friend of mine. Our primary interest is in enjoying nature and wildlife. We would love the chance to see some of the animals that inhabit the park, and we would love to do some hiking if possible. Family activities and organized events are not for us.... maybe down the road someday if we have families. Obviously we would like to see landmarks such as Old Faithful if we could, but simply being surrounded by by the natural beauty and wildlife is the one priority. We also thought we might get some great enjoyment of the environment in April without the huge crowds.

I guess my main questions are:
1. How much can the park be enjoyed during this time in April?
2. Would there be wildlife out and about at this time?
3. Since the lodging in the park is closed, where is the best area to stay? North? East? West? South?

Also... if your advice is to avoid it at this time in April... do you recommend another National Park somewhere? Is there a particular park that you think would be great for wildlife viewing and scenic hiking?

As always, SO many thanks for your helpful advice!

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