Where To Enter Yellowstone Park

Where to Enter Yellowstone Park

The iconic Yellowstone National Park spans across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, showcasing the remarkable beauty of nature with its awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking geysers. With over 2.2 million acres of land, the park offers numerous entry points, each presenting unique attractions and experiences. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned explorer, choosing the right entry point can greatly enhance your visit to Yellowstone. In this article, we explore the different entrances and provide expert insights to help you make the best decision for your Yellowstone adventure.

North Entrance: The Historic Gateway

The North Entrance, located in Gardiner, Montana, is the park’s original entrance and is known for its rich history. As you enter through the iconic Roosevelt Arch, you’ll find yourself immersed in the quaint town of Gardiner, offering charming accommodations and dining options. One of the main attractions here is the Mammoth Hot Springs, famous for its terraces of colorful mineral deposits created by the park’s geothermal activity. Wildlife enthusiasts will also appreciate the opportunity to spot elk, bison, and even wolves roaming freely in the Northern Range.

West Entrance: Close to Old Faithful

If witnessing the majestic eruptions of the renowned Old Faithful geyser is at the top of your Yellowstone bucket list, the West Entrance is your ideal starting point. Located near the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, this entrance provides easy access to the park’s geothermal wonders. In addition to Old Faithful, you can explore the Upper Geyser Basin, which boasts the highest concentration of geysers in the world. The nearby Yellowstone Historic Center offers fascinating exhibits about the park’s history and its role in the development of the National Park System.

South Entrance: Pristine Wilderness

The South Entrance, situated near Jackson, Wyoming, grants you direct access to the park’s vast wilderness and offers a more remote and tranquil experience. This entrance is the gateway to the famous Yellowstone Grand Tetons Loop, a breathtaking scenic drive that takes you through the stunning Grand Teton National Park and eventually into Yellowstone. Be prepared for encounters with diverse wildlife, including bears, moose, and herds of pronghorn. Hiking enthusiasts can explore the renowned Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its mesmerizing waterfalls.

East Entrance: Spectacular Scenic Drives

If you appreciate stunning scenic drives and panoramic views, the East Entrance, also known as the Cody Entrance, is the perfect choice for you. This entry point, located outside the charming town of Cody, Wyoming, allows you to enjoy the captivating beauty of the Absaroka Mountains while driving along the Yellowstone River. As you venture into the park, you’ll witness awe-inspiring vistas, such as the Sylvan Pass and Yellowstone Lake. This entrance also provides access to the Lamar Valley, often referred to as the “American Serengeti,” where you can spot an abundance of wildlife.

Insider Tips: Avoiding Crowds and Planning Ahead

As Yellowstone National Park attracts millions of visitors every year, it’s important to plan ahead to make the most of your visit. Here are some expert tips to help you avoid crowds and maximize your experience:

  • Visit in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) to enjoy fewer crowds and better opportunities for wildlife sightings.
  • Consider entering the park early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid peak visitor hours.
  • Research the park’s attractions and plan your itinerary accordingly to ensure you don’t miss out on must-see sights.
  • Make campground or lodging reservations well in advance for a stress-free stay.
  • Take advantage of the park’s shuttle system, which operates in certain areas, to reduce traffic congestion and make transportation easier.


With its diverse landscapes and astonishing natural wonders, Yellowstone National Park offers an abundance of entry points for visitors to embark on their adventure. Whether you choose the North, West, South, or East Entrance, each provides its own unique experiences and attractions. By planning ahead and utilizing insider tips, you can optimize your visit and create memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, pick your preferred entry point, and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Yellowstone!

Exploring Yellowstone’s Hidden Gems: Backcountry Treasures

To truly immerse yourself in the unspoiled wonders of Yellowstone, venture beyond the beaten path and explore the park’s hidden gems in the backcountry. Here are just a few of the lesser-known treasures worth discovering:

1. Bechler Falls and Canyon

Located in the far southwest corner of the park, Bechler Falls and Canyon offer breathtaking views and cascading waterfalls. Embark on a multi-day backpacking trip to fully appreciate the beauty of these remote areas.

2. Mount Holmes Fire Lookout

If you’re seeking panoramic views of the park, hike up to the Mount Holmes Fire Lookout. This hidden gem provides a stunning vantage point to observe Yellowstone’s vast wilderness and towering peaks.

3. Lone Star Geyser

Escape the crowds and witness the eruptions of the Lone Star Geyser, a hidden treasure just a short hike from Old Faithful. This secluded geyser offers a more intimate and serene experience compared to its famous counterpart.

4. Slough Creek

For avid fishermen and nature enthusiasts, Slough Creek is a paradise. This pristine stream offers world-class fly fishing opportunities, as well as the chance to spot an array of wildlife, including grizzly bears and wolves.

5. Union Falls

Nestled within the remote Bechler region, Union Falls is a captivating waterfall worth the journey. With its impressive height and scenic surrounding, it’s a hidden gem that will leave you in awe.

Guided Tours: Unlocking Yellowstone’s Secrets

While exploring Yellowstone independently can be a rewarding adventure, joining a guided tour can provide unique insights and access to hidden spots you may otherwise miss. Here are some types of guided tours that can enhance your Yellowstone experience:

1. Wildlife Safari

A wildlife safari guided by an experienced naturalist will take you to the best locations for spotting Yellowstone’s iconic animals. From wolves to grizzly bears, you’ll have the best chance to observe and learn about these magnificent creatures.

2. Geothermal Excursion

Embark on a geothermal excursion with a knowledgeable guide who will reveal the secrets of Yellowstone’s fascinating geothermal features. Learn about the park’s unique geology and witness colorful hot springs, powerful geysers, and bubbling mud pots up close.

3. Hiking Adventure

Join a hiking adventure that allows you to explore Yellowstone’s remote trails and hidden wonders. Whether you’re a novice hiker or an experienced trekker, guided hikes can provide safety, knowledge, and company for an unforgettable outdoor experience.

4. Photography Workshop

If you’re looking to capture the park’s natural beauty through your lens, consider joining a photography workshop. Led by professional photographers, these tours provide expert guidance on composition, lighting, and showcasing the true essence of Yellowstone.

5. Historical Tours

Delve into Yellowstone’s rich history and cultural heritage by joining a historical tour. Learn about the Indigenous people, early explorers, and the park’s formation while visiting historic sites, such as Fort Yellowstone and the Obsidian Cliff.

Ensuring Safety: Wildlife Encounters and Outdoor Preparedness

While Yellowstone is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s important to prioritize safety during your visit. Here are some essential tips for encountering wildlife responsibly and being prepared for outdoor adventures:

  • Maintain a safe distance from wildlife. Respect their natural behavior and avoid approaching or feeding them.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Yellowstone is home to grizzly bears and black bears, and it’s crucial to be prepared for potential encounters.
  • Stay on designated trails and boardwalks to protect yourself and preserve the park’s delicate ecosystems.
  • Check weather conditions and be prepared for sudden changes. Dress in layers, carry rain gear, and be aware of potential hazards, such as lightning and flash floods.
  • Carry essential supplies, including water, food, a map, and a first aid kit. Inform others of your itinerary and expected return time.

Exploring Yellowstone’s Surroundings: Beyond the Park Boundaries

While Yellowstone itself offers an abundance of natural wonders, the surrounding areas also have much to offer. Here are some nearby attractions that can complement your Yellowstone adventure:

1. Grand Teton National Park

Located just south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is renowned for its towering mountain peaks, serene lakes, and abundant wildlife. Enjoy activities such as hiking, boating, and wildlife watching in this spectacular park.

2. Cody, Wyoming

Immerse yourself in the cowboy culture and Wild West history of Cody, Wyoming. Visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, explore the lively downtown area, and experience thrilling rodeo performances.

3. Jackson Hole

Indulge in outdoor adventures and explore the vibrant town of Jackson Hole. From skiing in the winter to hiking and wildlife safaris in the summer, this popular destination offers a wide range of activities and attractions.

4. Big Sky, Montana

Embrace the beauty of Big Sky, Montana, a charming mountain community nestled between Yellowstone and the Gallatin National Forest. Enjoy skiing, fishing, hiking, or simply savor the idyllic mountain scenery.

5. Bozeman, Montana

Discover the lively city of Bozeman, Montana, known for its vibrant arts scene and outdoor recreation opportunities. Explore museums, dine in renowned restaurants, and embark on adventures in the nearby Bridger Mountains.

Maria Allison

Amber is a DIY enthusiast who loves to make her own things. She's always trying to find new ways to be creative and connect with others. She's also an artist, a musician, and a lover of all DIY things.

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