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Everything You Need To Know About Paddling In Yellowstone National Park / By Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet / Travel Exclusive News

Just you and your paddle board: enjoying a sunset in Yellowstone National Park © Sean Jansen / Lonely PlanetParks

A stand-up paddleboarder on a lake in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is an adventurer’s playground. Be it on foot, by car or via water, there are thousands of miles of trails and numerous lakes and streams to explore.
By car you are restricted to its roads (sometimes jammed with bison). But by paddle, Yellowstone’s world opens up.

Paddling is prohibited on all streams in the park, but paddlers can access certain lakes and ponds. The following lakes are the crown jewels of Yellowstone National Park.

Whether by kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board, here is your essential guide to paddling in Yellowstone.

Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yellowstone National Park began a phased reopening on June 1. Services and facilities will remain limited through 2020. Check the national park website for the latest info.

Introducing Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Paddling Yellowstone’s Lewis Lake

Deep in the south of the park lies Lewis Lake, which gives access to day paddlers and overnighters alike. You will be sharing the shoreline with boaters who are fishing for rainbow, brown and lake trout.

With a campground lapping at its shoreline (opens July 1), it is a paddler’s playground for spending the day on the lake with a campfire next to the car at night.

Experiencing Shoshone Lake by paddle board

Connected to Lewis Lake via a small channel, Shoshone Lake is only visited by paddlers and hikers. Lined with trees and thermal features,  this massive lake is the second-largest to paddle in the park and takes an agressive day to traverse.

That said, the true adventure is in the backcountry camping sites along the shores of Shoshone.

Let the solitude of the wilderness engulf you as you unpack the dry bags and set up the tent – Shoshone is a must-see.

Read more: Stunning getaways for stand up paddle boarding

Shoshone Lake evening Yellowstone National Park.jpg

Peace and quiet: Yellowstone’s Shoshone Lake is only visited by walkers and paddlers © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet
Exploring Yellowstone Lake by paddle
The entire national park is a dormant super-volcano, and Yellowstone Lake is its flooded caldera. With 110 miles of shoreline and a depth of 394ft, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Most of its shoreline can only be accessed by paddle, where the wildlife roaming are rarely seen by human eyes.

With the Yellowstone River flowing in and out of the lake, it boasts an abundant fishery for lake trout and the only native species of the park: Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

A multi-day trip is recommended, if not required, to filly appreciate the beauty of Yellowstone Lake’s deep bays with near freezing water temperatures and utmost solitude.
Yellowstone National Park paddling on lakes.jpg

Stay a while: a multi-day trip is best for appreciating Yellowstone’s remote beauty © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet
Planning a backcountry trip to Yellowstone

Planning is crucial if you intend to car camp and go backcountry paddling (check out Lonely Planet’s Yellowstone National Park Planning Map). The campgrounds that take reservations often fill up months before the summer season.

If you couldn’t book yourself a site there are a number of first-come, first-serve campgrounds, including Lewis Lake Campground which is the closest to both Lewis and Shoshone Lakes.

It’s highly recommended that you get there before 11 am to secure a spot at this great access point.

For Yellowstone Lake, there are two campgrounds that take reservations: Grant Village in the West Thumb and Bay Bridge on the north shore (both open June 17).

Fishing Bridge RV, one of the few campgrounds to offer sewer, electrical and water hookups for RVs, is closed through 2020. If you can’t find a campground, there are more a short drive away in the park, as well as campgrounds outside the park.

A stand-up paddleboarder on a lake in Yellowstone National Park

Stand up paddle boarding on Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet
Gear requirements for Yellowstone paddlers 

It is required that you have a life preserver. You may not have to wear it, but the National Parks Service requires that it be on your kayak, canoe or paddle board at all times.

Further requirements for your craft are a whistle or air horn for navigation in low visibility and a beacon of light for the same reason. A headlamp is sufficient, your cell phone is not.

Paddling regulations in Yellowstone

There is a short season for paddling due to closures, but it begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and runs until the first Sunday in November. 

Before you enter the water, your craft must be inspected by park personnel for invasive aquatic species at either Grant Village Backcountry Office or the Bridge Bay Ranger Station. Park permits cost $5 for the week or $10 for the whole season.

An open fire at a campsite in Yellowstone National Park, near a lake suitable for paddling

cozy by an open fire in Yellowstone National Park’s backcountry © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet
Backcountry paddling in Yellowstone

A huge allure to paddling the park is the chance to see its backcountry. For all forays into Yellowstone’s wilderness, a backcountry permit is required. In 2020, the park will begin issuing backcountry permits on June 15.

Backcountry permits often book out and many can be reserved in advance, though some are awarded through a lottery system fed by snail mail, faxed, and in-person applications. You can find all campsites online and can call the office for more information on reservations.

Read more: 11 ways to be sustainable in Yellowstone

Camping in Yellowstone

The most important thing is to camp 200ft from any water source and only in designated areas.

For cooking, a food storage device like a bear can or food bag hung in a tree is required. For personal safety, no firearms are allowed in the park, but bear spray is highly recommended – and can be rented at the airport or in the park from a kiosk at Canyon Village.

Accidents and attacks do happen, and knowing how to avoid them is important before your paddle.

Shoshone Lake Yellowstone National Park.jpg

Embracing solitude at Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park © Sean Jansen / Lonely Planet
Weather in Yellowstone

When checking in to get your permit, rangers will not hesitate to remind you of incoming and unpredictable weather. Thunder and lightning storms come almost daily in summer and hit randomly.

Typically in the afternoon, lightning, hail and rain can strike, while winds can gust up to 40 knots; in the middle of a lake, these are always bad news.

Rangers will tell you to hug the shore whenever possible and avoid open water crossings unless absolutely necessary.

Wind can also pick up and gust much stronger than forecast. There can be surfable waves caused by the winds and the last place you want to be is in the middle of the lake trying to get to shore.

Rangers and tourists alike have lost their lives from capsizing and hypothermia. But more often than not, the weather is splendid. The most memorable days of your life can be spent with your paddle in hand.

You might also like:

Insider’s guide to Yellowstone: where to trek and geyser gaze without the crowds
Catch a wave in the 10 best countries for surfing
At the wolf’s door: Yellowstone’s winter wildlife

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Travel Exclusive News / Istanbul / Turkey / 7 Of The Best Neighborhoods in Istanbul / By Jennifer Hattam

With its huge size and centuries of history, it would be impossible to see all of Istanbul in one trip – or perhaps even in one lifetime.

Still, its central neighborhoods are relatively compact, and each has its own distinct character and offerings. First-time visitors and those on a tight schedule will likely want to book a hotel in Sultanahmet, smack in the middle of Istanbul’s star attractions, while time spent in other districts gives insights into different aspects of local life in a city that contains multitudes.

Get to know Istanbul by each neighborhood one at a time.

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1. Sultanahmet

Best place to stay for unmissable sights 

The (seriously) historic center of Istanbul and the former seat of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Sultanahmet contains the majority of the city’s most-visited sights within walking distance of each other, making it a convenient base.

For historic atmosphere, it’s certainly hard to beat: the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque face off across Sultanahmet Square, with the storied Hippodrome alongside and the grandeur of Topkapı Palace just a stone’s throw away. Even seemingly nondescript parks, plazas and parking lots are built atop or alongside ancient ruins. 

With a dense concentration of hotels, accommodation options cater to every budget, including rooms in restored Ottoman mansions and simple pansiyons (hostels) with million-dollar rooftop views over the neighborhood’s domes and minarets.

The flip side is that little local life remains in Sultanahmet, and the generally tourist-focused restaurants hardly show off Turkish cuisine at its best.

People walking on Istiklal Street in Beyoğlu, Istanbul with a tram running up the center

Get a taste of Istanbul’s contemporary culture in Beyoğlu © Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock

2. Beyoğlu

Best neighborhood for contemporary art and culture

Across the Golden Horn (and a short tram ride away) from Sultanahmet, winding streets climb past the Galata Tower to İstiklal Caddesi, the pedestrian thoroughfare that cuts through the bustling Beyoğlu district.

Known in the past as Pera and Galata, this area has historically been home to many of Istanbul’s Christian and foreign communities. Today, it retains numerous – and sometimes beautifully restored – European-style apartments from the late 19th and early 20th century. 

Important cultural institutions such as the Pera Museum, the newly opened Istanbul ModernSALT BeyoğluSALT Galata (in the former headquarters of the Ottoman Bank), the Istanbul Research Institute and numerous small galleries have established themselves in some of these buildings, making the neighborhood ideal for an afternoon of art-going.

Though no longer the nexus of the city’s dining and nightlife scene it once was, Beyoğlu still has fine contemporary restaurants as well as lively meyhanes (taverns) where the raki and conviviality flow freely.

In addition to the large hotels around Taksim Square, you can find smaller hotels and rental apartments in the Cihangir, Çukurcuma, Galata and Karaköy quarters within Beyoğlu, each of which has an attractive atmosphere of its own.

3. Fener and Balat

Best areas for antiques and Instagram shoots

Traces of history blend with a stylish present in the adjacent neighborhoods of Fener and Balat, along the banks of the Golden Horn.

The landmark “iron church” and Patriarchal Church of St George attest to the area’s more cosmopolitan past, while colorful old homes and cobbled streets have become a favorite backdrop for film crews and Instagram influencers alike. 

Antique collectors, bargain hunters and nostalgia buffs descend on the neighborhood’s many antique stores, especially when they hold lively auctions, while the cafe culture here thrives.

This area doesn’t have many hotel or nightlife options, but a tram along the water – as well as a slower but more scenic ferry on the Golden Horn – make it relatively easy to get back to Sultanahmet or Beyoğlu after a day’s leisurely wandering. 

A couple take a smiling selfie as they ride on the ferry with the Istanbul skyline in the background

The ferry ride to Kadıköy is a quintessential Istanbul experience in itself © petekarici / Getty Images

4. Kadıköy

Best area for cafes and nightlife

The popularity of the Kadıköy district on the Asian side of Istanbul has exploded in recent years, creating a neighborhood that’s vibrant day and night, with third-wave coffee shops, hip boutiques, small independent art galleries, restaurants, cocktail bars, pubs and live-music venues. 

While the neighborhood has a few notable sights – a museum dedicated to a beloved Turkish rock star, a 1927 opera house, a mixed-use cultural center in a restored gasworks, a colorful street market – the main attraction is simply soaking in the scene and admiring the spectacular sunsets from the long waterfront park’s promenade.

This area has a handful of hotel options, mostly near the water, but it’s easy to hop over for the day or evening from Eminönü or Karaköy on a ferry ride – a quintessential Istanbul experience in itself. 

5. Nişantaşı and Teşvikiye

Best places to go for luxury shopping

Just north of Taksim Square, chic Nişantaşı and Teşvikiye draw a fashionable set with their leafy streets lined with designer boutiques and high-end department stores, stylish sidewalk cafes and grand apartment buildings.

This area has good restaurants and some luxurious hotels, too. The neighborhoods abut Maçka Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city center and a popular spot with picnickers, dog walkers and joggers. 

Though the area is in the central city, limited transportation links are a downside. Walking to the Osmanbey metro station or downhill to the buses and ferries of Beşiktaş are the best ways to connect to the rest of the city.

6. Kurtuluş and Bomonti

Best areas for market shopping and local life

Down-to-earth Kurtuluş and up-and-coming Bomonti are just on the opposite side of the Osmanbey metro station from Nişantaşı and Teşvikiye – but a world away in atmosphere.

Kurtuluş offers the best of traditional neighborhood life, with bustling streets and a wealth of small homestyle restaurants, bakeries, delis and other food stores. 

Anchored around the Bomontiada entertainment complex in a historic brewery building, Bomonti has a growing dining and nightlife scene, as well as some higher-end hotels. In between is Feriköy, where an open-air market is set up in a parking garage multiple times a week, with vendors selling organic produce on Saturday, antiques on Sunday and a mixed array of foodstuffs and homewares on Mondays and Thursdays.

Boats in the Bosphorus Strait near Ortaköy Mosque in Beşiktaş, Istanbul

If you want a luxury hotel on the waterfront, head for the neighborhoods of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy © Shchipkova Elena / Shutterstock

7. Beşiktaş and Ortaköy

Best places to stay for deluxe hotels with Bosphorus views 

The neighborhoods of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy along the Bosphorus are home to some of Istanbul’s most luxurious international hotels, boasting broad views across the famous strait.

Beşiktaş itself is a busy transit hub with a youthful vibe and lots of casual bars and restaurants around its lively market area. A group of restored late-19th-century Ottoman row houses in the Akaretler part of the neighborhood, near the Naval Museum, is now home to cafes and contemporary art exhibitions. 

Sitting under the first Bosphorus Bridge, Ortaköy has a beautiful baroque mosque and a popular waterfront area. Both areas have ferry docks, though Beşiktaş has more connections.

In between sits hilly, green Yıldız Park, former hunting ground to the sultan, now a popular place to have a big Turkish breakfast buffet in a century-old pavilion.

Travel Exclusive News / Istanbul / Turkey / 7 Of The Best Neighborhoods in Istanbul / By Jennifer Hattam / Jennifer Bar,Tony Bar, Sedat Karagoz / Istanbul,New York Travel,Tourism News Office / Janbolat Khanat / Almaty Travel,Tourism News Office

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