Yellowstone National Park Travel Guide

Saturday, January 8, 2022


The first National Park in the United States was Yellowstone in 1872. The park is known for its geothermal activity, including over 500 active geysers and an abundance of wildlife. Yellowstone sits on top of an active volcano and experiences 1,000-3,000 earthquakes each year.

The best advice I received before visiting Yellowstone was to remember that a lot of time spent in the park would be driving. This National Park spans 3,472 square miles and is consistently in the top five most visited national parks. On top of that, bison are known for causing traffic jams. 


  • North Entrance near Gardiner, MT
  • Northeast Entrance, near Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
  • East Entrance, near Cody, WY
  • South Entrance, near Grand Teton National Park
  • West Entrance, near West Yellowstone



  • Spring is a quieter time at Yellowstone National park, with winter travel restrictions easing up in April. Highlights include grizzly bears emerging from their dens, birds arrive and bison calves being born. This is a great time of year to visit for wildlife watching and to avoid the summer crowds.
  • The busiest time of year at Yellowstone is late summer, with all roads and most campgrounds open. The bison rut - breeding season - occurs in July, with optimal viewing in Lamar and Hayden valleys. Summer visitors can also enjoy boating services on Yellowstone Lake along with hiking and ranger-led programs. 
  • Fall in Yellowstone may be considered "hit-or-miss" as weather may cause closures and roads begin closing for winter in October. However, bears are more visible from the road as they return to lower elevations. The foliage colors are also worth seeing, as well as the raptor migration and elk rut.
  • For extra steamy geyser basins, few crowds and snowy landscapes, head out west in winter. There are travel restrictions for all areas except Mammoth to the northeast entrance. In the coldest months, you can ski and snowshoe around the park and may see wolves and the bighorn sheep rut near the north entrance.


Every part of Yellowstone has something unique to offer, with more than 10,000 hydrothermal features and an abundance of wildlife. There are ten visitor centers around the park to learn about the history and speak with park rangers. I highly recommend taking a map when you enter the park, as there is no cellphone service within the park.

Check out this blog post for more: Must-See Sights at Yellowstone National Park.


  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Norris Geyser Basin
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Old Faithful Geyser
  • Morning Glory Pool
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin


Lamar Valley is known as the "America's Serengeti", named for the large populations of bison, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, wolves and bears. Hayden Valley (pictured above) is another area that many bison call home. For optimal wildlife viewing, get into the park before sunrise and keep an eye out in all directions. Maintain a safe distance from all wildlife - that's 100 yards for predators (wolves and bears) and at least 25 yards for any other animals. If an animal is showing clear signs that it notices your presence, that's a good sign you are too close


Nearby Towns

  • Gardiner, MT ~10 miles from North Entrance
  • Bozeman, MT ~90 miles from North Entrance
  • West Yellowstone, MT ~1 mile from West Entrance
  • Big Sky, MT ~50 miles from West Entrance
  • Cody, WY ~50 miles from East Entrance
  • Jackson, WY ~60 miles from South Entrance

Yellowstone National Park Lodges

  • Canyon Lodge and Cabins
  • Grant Village Lodge
  • Lake Hotel and Cabins
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
  • Old Faithful Inn
  • Old Faithful Lodge
  • Old Faithful Snow Lodge
  • Roosevelt Lodge


  • Bridge Bay Campground
  • Canyon Campground
  • Fishing Bridge RV Park
  • Grant Village Campground
  • Madison Campground
  • Mammoth Campground
  • Norris Campground
  • Slough Creek Campground
  • Pebble Creek Campground 
  • ower Fall Campground
  • Indian Creek Campground
  • Lewis Lake Campground
We stayed in an Airbnb in Gardiner, MT while visiting Yellowstone. It made the most sense for us to approach Yellowstone from the North Entrance, given our route from Badlands National Park. It was also important to us that we were close to the park, since we knew we would be driving a lot within. Our journey continued south into Grand Teton National Park after a few days in Yellowstone.

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