Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

In A Nutshell

Getting to Yellowstone

Park Entrances: Yellowstone is accessible from five major entrances during the summer: North (U.S. 89) from Gardiner, Montana; West (U.S. 20) from West Yellowstone, Montana; South (U.S. 89) from Jackson, Wyoming; East (U.S. 20-16-14) from Cody, Wyoming; and Northeast (U.S. 212) from Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana.

Seasonal Road and Entrance Closures: The North and Northeast entrances are open year-round, as is the road from Gardiner, MT at the North Entrance to Cooke City, MT at the Northeast Entrance. In the winter, visitors must return to Gardiner to drive back to Interstate 90 and destinations beyond. All other park entrances and interior roads close to the public at 8 a.m. on Monday after the first Sunday of November. They reopen to tracked, over-the-snow vehicles from mid-December through mid-March and begin to reopen for wheeled vehicles in mid-April.

Construction: Yellowstone is currently reconstructing its roads. For current road construction and conditions, contact the NPS at: Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190; call (307) 344-2117 for recorded road information, or visit nps.gov/yell.

Pulblic Transportation

Air: Commercial air service is available to Billings (129 miles), Bozeman (77 miles) and West Yellowstone (three miles) in Montana; and to Jackson (57 miles) and Cody (53 miles) in Wyoming. Air service to West Yellowstone is only available in summer.

Bus: Greyhound Lines serve Bozeman and Livingston, Montana, and Cody, Wyoming. Powder River also offers bus service into the park from Cody. Gray Line Tours serves West Yellowstone and offers connecting bus service into the park from Jackson via the South Entrance. Several of these connections are only offered seasonally.

Rental Car: Automobiles may be rented at some airports and in major towns near the park.

Train: There is no direct rail service to the park.

Entrance Fees

Entrance fees to the park vary. Unless otherwise noted, entrance permits are good for seven consecutive days in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Persons aged 16 and under are admitted for free.

• Private, non-commercial vehicles: $25

• Motorcycles: $20

• Hikers, bicyclists, and skiers: $12

An annual Yellowstone Passport (valid in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton) costs $50 and is available at park entrances.

Weather

Yellowstone's weather is always unpredictable. Storms can come up suddenly, causing a drop in temperature or resulting in precipitation. Always carry extra clothing when hiking.

What to Wear

Whatever the season, be prepared by dressing in layers. Don't forget a jacket or sweater, rain gear, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Park Newspaper

Pick up a copy of Yellowstone Today, an NPS publication that offers seasonal news and current information about park facilities and programs. Yellowstone Today is free and available at visitor centers and park entrances.

Further Reading

If you would like to learn more about Yellowstone, we recommend the following books: Yellowstone—The Official Guide to Touring America's First National Park by the Yellowstone Association, and It Happened in Yellowstone by Erih H. Turner.

Park Headquarters

Located at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park Headquarters is the historic site of Fort Yellowstone where, from 1886 to 1918, the U.S. Army was in charge of protecting the park from poachers, vandals, robbers and whatever lawlessness threatened the park and its early tourists. Now the old army buildings house the park's administrative offices. You can take a self-guided walking tour of the fort.

Visitor Centers/Ranger Stations

Visitor centers, the park's main information hubs, are conveniently located near most lodging complexes. Purchase books, maps and other publications, and obtain current information about hiking trails and interpretive programs in each of Yellowstone's five regions or countries. Opening and closing dates vary, but most have shortened hours of operation (or are closed) between September and late May. See Yellowstone Today for current hours of operation. Ranger stations are located at most developed areas in the park.

Albright Visitor Center

Located within the historic Bachelor Officers Quarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, informative displays acquaint you with the park's wildlife and human history. Films are shown throughout the day, and are free. Albright Visitor Center is open year-round. For more information, please call (307) 344-2263.

Old Faithful Visitor Center 

Interpretive rangers here explain and predict geyser eruptions. Open during summer and winter seasons, an informative film, A Symphony of Fire and Water, plays throughout the day. A temporary visitor center is located near the Old Faithful Lodge while the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center is under construction. Please call (307) 545-2750 for more information.

Canyon Visitor Center 

The  Canyon Visitor Education Center contains a variety of engaging exhibits explaining Yellowstone's geologic story with particular focus on the volcano beneath the park. Films are shown throughout the day. The Canyon Visitor Education Center is open from May through late September. Please call (307) 344-2550 for more information.

Grant Village Visitor Center

Exhibits here tell the story of the 1988 Yellowstone fires. A film related to the 20th anniversary of the fires plays regularly. Located on the west shore of Yellowstone Lake, Grant Village Visitor Center is open late May to late September. Please call (307) 242-2650 for more information.

Fishing Bridge Visitor Center 

This National Historic Landmark was built in 1932 and houses exhibits about Yellowstone's birds and other wildlife. A "three dimensional model" of Yellowstone Lake reveals the fascinating geology of the lake bottom. Located at the north end of Yellowstone Lake, Fishing Bridge Visitor Center is open from late May to late September. Please call (307) 242-2450 for more information.

Museums Outside the Park

Outside Yellowstone, visitors can continue to learn more about the area's natural and cultural history.

The Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana, shows you the park in its early years through its permanent exhibit on the work of F. Jay Haynes, Yellowstone's official photographer from 1887 to 1916.

Learn more about dinosaurs, geology and paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Interest in Yellowstone's wildlife can be explored at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, tells the story of the American West in five museums under one roof. The Draper Museum of Natural History offers an interactive journey through the Greater Yellowstone Eco-system and is the first American natural history museum of the 21st century. Visitors can also experience the life and times of Buffalo Bill, explore a world-class gallery of Western art, discover the history and culture of the Plains Indian people, and see the world's most comprehensive collection of American firearms.

At the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center near Cody, you can look straight down a 353-foot-drop to the Shoshone River. In Pinedale, Wyoming, the Museum of the Mountain Man focuses on the life of Jim Bridger and also tells the story of other fur trappers and early explorers. Several museums in the town of Meeteetse, Wyoming, give history buffs a glimpse of the old Wild West.