Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Regulations and Saftey

Park Regulations

Carefully read park regulations listed in park newspapers and posted at visitor centers and ranger stations.

Firearms: Firearms regulations vary by park. Check with the National Park Service or the park you plan to visit before your trip for most up-to-date information.

Fires: Campfires are restricted to designated campgrounds and picnic areas with permanent fire grates. Backcountry campfires require special permits. You may use any dead, downed and detached material as firewood, but chainsaws are prohibited. Some campgrounds sell firewood as well. Please use extreme caution with all fires and smoking materials. Fires must be completely extinguished before leaving an area.

Permits: Permits are required for boating, fishing, or overnight hiking or camping in the backcountry. Permits are available from visitor centers or ranger stations. To ensure safety, read the accompanying information you receive with the permit. Talk to park rangers about trail conditions, bear sightings, wildlife migrations, weather warnings and stream crossings.

Pets: Owners must assume complete responsibility for their pets, which must be leashed at all times. For the safety of your pet and the wildlife, pets are prohibited on trails, in the backcountry and all thermal areas. Pets are allowed in campgrounds and in cabin units of the park’s lodging facilities, but may not be left unattended. There are no kennels in the park. Guests will be charged a one-time $25 fee for each unit occupied by an animal during the stay. For more information about having pets in park lodging, visit

Swimming: Bathing, wading or swimming in any thermal feature or stream whose waters flow exclusively from thermal features is prohibited because it can damage the hydrothermal system. The NPS discourages swimming in park rivers, streams and lakes.

Technical Climbing: Park mountains are not well suited for this sport due to loose and broken rock. For your safety, climbing is discouraged. Climbing in Yellowstone's Grand Canyon is illegal.

Vandalism: It is illegal to deface, damage or remove any plants, animals or minerals. With your help, Yellowstone can be protected for future generations.

Wildlife: Respect the wild nature of park animals. Feeding wildlife is strictly prohibited. Do not tease, crowd or frighten animals. Startled animals may charge—bison can sprint 37 miles per hour! Keep at least 25 yards from most animals and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Staying Safe

In wilderness areas, remember that you will experience the land on its own terms. Talk with park rangers before you leave on a trip to learn all you can about survival and seasonal hazards.

Blisters: To prevent blisters, wear comfortable shoes or boots that suit your needs and the terrain. Likewise, wear quality outdoor socks to cushion and protect your feet.

Falling Trees: Avoid areas with dead trees, including areas that have burned. They may fall without warning, especially on windy days. Heed park rangers' warnings about areas to avoid and be alert, even in your car and especially on windy days.

Giardiasis: Giardia lamblia is present in streams and lakes at Yellowstone, making the water unsafe to drink unless boiled or treated. If you develop symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps and bloating, consult a physician. Carry adequate filtered or bottled water for short hikes and, on longer trips, boil water from streams or lakes for at least one minute before drinking or cooking with it.

Hypothermia: Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when you are so cold your body can no longer warm itself. Surprisingly, you can even experience hypothermia if you are tired and wet on a breezy summer day. If you find yourself shivering and feeling disoriented, seek shelter and drink warm liquids. This serious condition may require medical assistance.

Lightning: If you are hiking and see a storm developing, retreat to a lower location to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning. Avoid water, ridges, isolated trees and boulders. If you feel the tingle of an electrical charge building up, crouch down, lean forward and place your hands on your knees. Do not seek refuge under rock overhangs.

Scalding Water: All thermal pools are near or above boiling temperature. Venturing off marked trails or boardwalks is hazardous and prohibited; the thin crusts around thermals may suddenly break. Scalding hot water inflicts serious, and possibly fatal burns. Always keep small children safe in these areas.

Ticks and Mosquitoes: To lessen your risk of being bitten by ticks, stay on trails and avoid going into grassy, brushy areas. After hiking, do a "tick check" to ensure that no ticks have attached themselves to your body. Ticks carrying Lyme Disease have not been found in Yellowstone. There have been cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, an illness transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Note: Visitors should take precautionary measures against the West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.