Planning to explore Yellowstone?
What’s better than starting by visiting a place that displays the wonders of nature at its best and also holds a historical significance.
Yellowstone National Park, undoubtedly the best, and arguably the oldest national park, is a mesmerizing territory of the states that lies in northwestern Wyoming. The premises of the park, however, extend to southern Montana and eastern Idaho too.
The park dates back to 1st March 1872 when the U.S. Congress established it as the first national park of the United States. While the majority consider Yellowstone National Park to be the first-ever national park on the globe, some naturalists have come forward with evidence that Bogd Khan Mountain National Park situated in Mongolia, was established in 1778.
UNESCO declared the park as a biosphere reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage site in 1978. Yellowstone is a volcanically and seismically active area, with a major region of the park consisting of broad volcanic plateaus. The steam vents, colorful hot pools, mud cauldrons, hot springs, and geysers are a breathtaking sight to watch.
Several lakes and rivers inside the vast area add to the beauty of the park. The Yellowstone Falls are sure to take your breath away.
Treat your eyes with over 1,350 species of flowering plants spread all across the area while you walk in between animals such as elk (wapiti), mule deer, black bears, foxes, and coyotes. There are smaller populations of brown (grizzly) bears, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, mountain goats, moose, and Bobcats.
When Does Yellowstone Open Its Gate to the Public?
Yellowstone National Park is open for the public all year round. But be mindful that out of a total of 5 entrances to the park, only one entrance is open for the public for 365 days a year. All other entrances open seasonally in different parts of the year.
The 365-days Accessible Entrance
The North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana is open 24/7 for the whole year. In winters, vehicles can only get through the snow-packed roads with the help of snow tires and chains sometimes. Visitors may have to experience temporary closures due to bad weather or other unforeseeable conditions.
The Entrances that Open Seasonally
- The Northeast Entrance is closed throughout the winter.
- The gates for West Entrance usually open on the Third Friday of April at 8:00 AM.
- The East Entrance opens two weeks after the opening of the West Entrance.
- The South Entrance opens three weeks after the West Entrance opens.
The opening dates, however, vary depending on factors such as road plowing, snow and ice removal, and the weather.
How to get through the closed gates?
In the spring, when the roads are plowed and vehicle travel is closed, visitors may hike, bike, or rollerblade the park roads from Mammoth to Norris, from Norris to Madison, and from Madison to the West Entrance. The road going further from Madison to Old Faithful is completely closed due to spring bear activity.
In the fall, when the East, South, and West Entrances close their gates to vehicles, visitors may hike, bike, or rollerblade the park roads from Mammoth to Norris, from Norris to Madison, and from Madison to the West Entrance.
Which Entrance Shall I Use?
Yellowstone National Park is a humongous territory. One can simply not explore all of it in one visit. It is highly advised to plan your tour smartly and choose the places you want to explore in the park beforehand. The very next step would be to choose the appropriate entrance that will take you to your desired places directly.
Choose North Entrance to Discover the Unmatched Beauty of Mammoth Hot Springs
The park’s only year-round entrance will take you to the most spectacular region of the park. The park’s natural wonder, The Mammoth Hot Springs, is situated very close to the North Entrance. How about a bonus? One can also see the park’s incredible wildlife from this entrance. Adding more to all of this, you can find the historic hotel and dining room just beside the Mammoth hot springs.
For those coming from the Pacific Northwest or Missoula, Mont., the north entrance, along US 89, is the most suitable route.
On the road from Gardiner to Mammoth, you will also get to see the Boiling River turnoff. By going further away from Mammoth and
heading east on the northernmost road in the park, you will get to the Lamar Valley, also called the Serengeti of the United States, owing to the vast diversity of mammals living there.
Northast Entrance will take you to Experience the Park’s Wildlife
The easiest access to Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, heaven for animal lovers. You will find a huge variety of mammals in the valley. Animals like grizzlies, black bears, bison, and wolves roam around the valley all day long. One may find decent dining and lodging a few blocks away downtown.
For the people coming from the northeast side of Montana, this is the ideal entrance.
Choose the West Entrance to Reach the Most Liked Attraction of the Park- the Geyserville
If you are visiting the park mainly to witness half of the world’s active geysers, you should opt for the US 20 route and the West Entrance. The West Entrance takes you directly to the heart of the most attractive region of the park.
Keep in mind that this is the most liked region of the park, the entrance is the busiest of all. For the visitors coming from Idaho or western Montana, especially Missoula, the west entrance is the most suitable route to get inside the park.
Want to take some rest in between all the exploring? West Yellowstone, Mont., home to the Grizzly &Wolf Discovery Center, as well as lodging and dining, are a few minutes drive from the West Entrance. You will also find a theatre nearby.
South Entrance Lets You Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds
South Entrance is for those who want to visit two National Parks in one go. From Jackson, Wyo., you can stop at the amazing Grand Teton National Park and then drive up north for 57 miles Rockefeller Jr. Highway straight to Yellowstone National Park. For the people of Jackson, Wyo., The South Entrance is the most convenient entrance to reach Yellowstone.
East Entrance Goes Straight to the Yellowstone Lake
The East Entrance is the easiest route to Yellowstone Lake, the largest mountain lake at an elevation of 7,733 feet. You will get to experience geothermal features too along the shores of the lake. Along the route to the East Entrance, you will also pass through Cody, Wyo., a beautiful town that has a rich history.
Types of Transportation in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park covers a large landmass and to explore all of that, reliable and convenient transportation is necessary.
Many means of transportation make traveling to and inside the Yellowstone National Park easy.
You can now make it to the Yellowstone National Park by commercial airlines that carry flights to the following airports in the vicinity of the park, MT, Cody and Jackson, Wy; Bozeman and Billings and Idaho fall, etc.
Bus service is available for people who opt to travel by road. It is an economical and convenient method of transportation. Throughout the year, buses move back and forth from West Yellowstone to Bozeman and MT on Highway 191 and many other routes.
There is no train station near Yellowstone National Park. You can find the closest railway station in southeast Idaho and another in Utah.
Inside The Park
Yellowstone National Park stretches on a wide swath of territory. The popular destinations in the Park like Grand Canyon and the Old Faithful are separated by almost 80 kilometers. One would need a vehicle to move into the park. Apart from the shuttle services and tours provided by travel and tourism companies, public transportation is absent in Yellowstone.
Vehicle movements on the road continue around the year except for the harsh winter weather when the snow hampers the movement along the road. Roads are well maintained and you will certainly have a great road experience while driving. Most of the visitors use their vehicles to travel in the Yellowstone National Park as it is the most convenient and economical way. The maximum speed at which you can drive in the Yellowstone National Park is 45 mph. This implies that it would take longer to cover distances than usual in the park.
The fact that there are fewer gas stations inside the Yellowstone National Park than one would expect should be kept in mind when commuting around the national park. To be on the safer side, keep your fuel tank full while you’re in the park.
Many Yellowstone roads pass through mountains which means you will have to encounter sharp curves and slopes. Owing to this, vehicles longer than 75 feet are prohibited in the park. You can also use the option of Alternative fuel vehicles and go green for your tour.
Imagine walking around in a place where you see nature in all its forms. Isn’t it a treat for the admirers of divine nature? Getting to see all the creations of mother nature in one place instantly leaves a very soothing effect on our minds. Especially, when one is in the search for peace and tranquility.
Visit the Yellowstone National Park and explore the wildlife in an intact ecosystem, enjoy the breathtaking views in geothermal areas that are home to about half the world’s active geysers, and view geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.