4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, water, geyser, steam-60211.jpg

4 Days In Yellowstone Itinerary For An Epic Adventure

According to the second-richest man on earth, Jeff Bezos said that “future generations will visit Earth the way you visit Yellowstone”. While space tourism is far-fetched, our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary isn’t. 

In our itinerary, we explore the best way to see Yellowstone in 4 days with our trip highlights being:

  • Grand Prismatic Hot Spring
  • Old Faithful Geyser
  • Mammoth Hot Spring
  • Hurricane Vent
  • Roaring Mountain
  • Obsidian Cliff
  • Lamar Valley

Our post will answer your many questions about Yellowstone National Park, its history, the best month to visit, and which is the best entrance to stay at.

  1. Where is the Yellowstone National Park?
  2. Are 4 days in Yellowstone enough?
  3. What is the best month to visit Yellowstone National Park?
  4. Which entrance of Yellowstone is best to stay at?
  5. Is it worth it to go to Yellowstone?

Come with us on a journey as we explore America’s first national park, the Yellowstone National Park.

Disclaimer: Some of the links here are my affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA COST to you. Please read my Disclaimer Policy for more information. Hope you find the information here useful! Thank you!

Where is the Yellowstone National Park?

The Yellowstone National Park is America’s first and largest national park that is largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extends to the states of Idaho and Montana. President Ulysses Grant signed the Act of Declaration in 1872 which created the Yellowstone National Park.

Fun Fact

Former United States President, Gerald Ford once worked as a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park in 1936. He described it as “one of the greatest summers of my life”.

Some of the Native American tribes here are Cheyenne River Sioux, Crow, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Spirit Lake, and Northern Arapaho.

Origin of the name “Yellowstone”

The name may have come from the French word, Roche Jaune which is a translation of the Minnetaree word for Mitseadazi which means “Rock Yellow River”. However, it was explorer-geographer, David Thompson, that first used the word “Yellow Stone”.

The name, “Yellow Stone” was soon formalized as “Yellowstone” in subsequent years. The park is named after the Yellowstone River which flows north and forms Yellowstone Lake before joining the Missouri River at the Montana-North Dakota border.

History

The ancestors of the Blackfeet, Cayuse, Coeur d’Alene, Bannock, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Umatilla were the earliest known tribes who hunted, gathered plants, conducted ceremonies and engaged in trade, and lived within the park more than any other tribe.

The first European-American to have seen the geysers and hot springs was John Colter. He could have passed through Yellowstone during the winter months of 1807 while looking for native customers for a new trading post down the Yellowstone River.

With fashion evolving, the fur trade came to an end in 1840 and 20 years later, the discovery of gold led prospectors to Yellowstone. Although gold was found within the park, there were no big strikes made.

Two “formal discoveries” of the park were made although the park had been thoroughly discovered by the Native Americans and the fur traders. 

In 1860, Captain William Raynolds led a military expedition to the park. His expedition was hampered by late spring snow and the government was preoccupied with the Civil War soon after.

The second expedition was the Folsom-Cook-Peterson expedition in 1869 which led to the Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition in 1871 and the Hayden expedition in 1872.

It was the reports, lectures, and articles by these explorers that led to Yellowstone being gazetted national park in 1872.

How do I get to Yellowstone National Park?

There are several options to get to Yellowstone National Park. You can get there by plane or by car. 

Plane

The closest airport is the West Yellowstone Airport that is operational from May to mid-October with flights coming in from Salt Lake City, Utah. This airport is located near the park’s West Entrance.

Another regional airports are the Jackson Hole Airport that is within the Grand Teton National Park. As the plane descends, you can be sure of scenic views. This airport is 1.5 hours from the South Entrance with beautiful views as you make your way towards Yellowstone.

The Yellowstone Region Airport is in Cody and is about a 2-hour drive to the park’s East Entrance. Another smaller airport is Idaho Falls Regional Airport which is about 1.5 hours drive from the park’s West Entrance.

The larger airports are the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is a 2-hour drive to the West or North Entrance. Another large airport nearby is the Salt Lake International Airport which is a 4.5-hours drive to Yellowstone’s West Entrance. 

Car

If you are driving, you would have at least 6 options available which would take you along scenic routes, small towns, and climb Yellowstone’s mountains. 

The route with the most breathtaking views is from Highway 191 via Grand Teton. This route would take you to Yellowstone’s South Entrance. A separate entrance fee would be charged when you enter Yellowstone National Park.

If you are coming from Bozeman, you would take Highway 191 to Yellowstone’s West Entrance. This road is a basic 2-lane highway with stunning views. 

If you prefer to enter via Yellowstone’s North Entrance, you would take Highway 89 from Livingston to the town of Gardiner in Montana. 

If you are coming from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone, you would take Highway 20 which passes through Island Park in Idaho. Island Park is a popular stop-over for ATV-ing, hiking, and fishing which is just 30-minutes from Yellowstone’s West Entrance.

Finally, for the most beautiful drive to Yellowstone, that would be via Beartooth Highway or Highway 212 that starts from Red Lodge and Cooke City in Montana and ends at Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance. This road is closed from May to mid-October, weather permitting.

If you are coming from Cody, you would take Highway 14 to Yellowstone’s East Entrance as you drive past Yellowstone Lake. The drive from Cody is about 2-hours.

The RV-friendly highways are Highway 14, 89, 20, and 191 while Highway 212 is not suitable for RVs as the snow lingers well into the summer months. 

What is the park entrance fee to Yellowstone National Park?

There are several pass options available at Yellowstone, suitable for both single and multiple entries. The revenue collected from these fees goes towards improving campground facilities, roads, infrastructure, native fish restoration, and accessibility improvements.

The Seven Day Passes are good for entry into Yellowstone from the date of purchase. The prices are $20 for individuals coming by foot, bike, ski, etc. Private non-commercial vehicles are charged $35 while motorcycles and snowmobiles are $30.

The Yellowstone National Park Annual Pass allows multiple entries for one year is priced at $70 which can admit up to 4 persons if traveling by snow coach. 

If you are coming via Grand Teton, it would be useful to purchase America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series which gives you access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites and costs $80 per person. 

There are two categories of Senior Passes for persons aged 62 years and above. These are Lifetime Senior Pass which costs $80 while the Annual Senior Pass costs $20 per person. Persons with permanent disabilities are given a Free Lifetime Pass where a processing cost of $10 is charged if you want to receive the pass via snail mail.

For your convenience, you can book your digital pass at Recreation.gov which can be downloaded and sent via email in PDF to be printed for display before your trip to Yellowstone. 

Can you get into Yellowstone for free?

Yes, you can. Check out the park’s fee-free days where the park offers free admission to everyone. The purpose of fee-free days is to provide the public with an opportunity to visit a new place or simply re-visit an old favorite. 

The fee-free days DO NOT cover amenity or user fees for camping, transportation, special tours, and boat launches. 

Are 4 days in Yellowstone enough?

Yes, four days are enough to see the park’s main attractions with plenty of time to see the less touristy areas of the park. In our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, the bulk of our highlights would be on Day 1 with Grand Prismatic Hot Springs and Old Faithful.

Did you know that the Yellowstone National Park is home to the Yellowstone Supervolcano?

The Yellowstone Caldera was formed over the last three eruptions with the last eruption taking place more than 640,000 years ago. This earthquake was 1,000 bigger than the eruption of Mount St Helen’s and caused the ground to collapse.

Day 1: Geysers and Hot Springs

On Day 1 of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, we explore the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the Old Faithful, Black Sand Basin, Blue Star Spring, and end with the gorgeous views of the West Thumb Geyser Basin. 

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin

The first in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the iconic Grand Prismatic Spring. This hot spring is the largest in the United States and third-largest in the world, after the Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and the Boiling Lake in Dominica. 

The spring is located at the Midway Geyser Basin which is North of Old Faithful and West of the Grand Loop Road. This spring is about 25 miles from the West Entrance.

Can you get into the Grand Prismatic Spring?

No, you can’t bathe, swim, or wade in the Grand Prismatic Spring. The waters are scalding.

What caused the Grand Prismatic Spring?

The colors of the spring are from the various bacteria and thermophiles which are heat-loving algae that contain colorful pigments. 

How deep is the great prismatic spring?

The Grand Prismatic Spring is about 121 feet deep and has a diameter of 370 feet.

Can you see the Grand Prismatic Spring from the road?

No, you can’t see the Grand Prismatic Spring from the road. However, you can hike the Fairy Falls Hike to the Overlook to get a bird’s eye view of the spring.

How hot is the water at the Grand Prismatic Spring?

The water temperature at the Grand Prismatic Spring is about 160°F (70°C) and can reach up to 189°F (87°C). The water cools as the water flows outwards from the center. With every change in temperature, the chemistry of the water changes.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

The second in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Old Faithful. This geyser is about 14 miles from the Grand Prismatic Spring. The Old Faithful is the first geyser to be named during the Washburn Expedition in the 1870s.

The name, Old Faithful was given by Nathaniel Langford who noticed that the geyser “spouted nine times, with columns of water being thrown from ninety to one-hundred and twenty-five feet at each discharge, which lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes”.

Does the Old Faithful still erupt?

Yes, it currently erupts about 20 times a day and was known as “Eternity’s Timepiece” due to the regularity of its eruptions. Check out Geyser Times and discover when the Old Faithful last erupted. 

Has the Old Faithful ever stopped erupting?

According to Science.org, a drought once shut down the Old Faithful almost 800 years ago. The geyser shut down completely for several decades. The Guardian mentioned that if temperatures rose to 10°F (-12.22°C), Old Faithful could stop erupting and the snowpacks around the region could disappear completely.

How hot is the water at the Old Faithful?

There are varying water temperatures around the Old Faithful. For example, deep within the Old Faithful, the temperatures exceed 400°F (204°C) while the temperature is at 244°F (117°C) at the throat of the Old Faithful. Just before an eruption, the water temperature is approximately 204°F (96°C). 

Black Sand Basin

Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The third in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Black Sand Basin. This basin is about 2-miles from the Old Faithful and is located in the Upper Geyser Basin of the Yellowstone National Park.

The Black Sand Basin is a group of geothermal springs that was once known as Emerald Pool, a name given by AC Peale in 1871. A famous pool within this group is the Handkerchief Pool.

Back in the days, tourists would drop their handkerchiefs into the Handkerchief Pool where the currents would whisk it away, only to reappear and rise to the surface, cleaned. 

How long is the Black Sand Basin Trail?

The Black Sand Basil Trail is a 0.8 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail that features a lake, hot springs, and Rainbow Pool. This boardwalk hike is easy and suitable for all levels.

What can visitors feel if they stand along the fences of the Black Sand Pool?

At the southern end of the Black Sand Pool trail, visitors would feel the ground move beneath them, if they stand along the fences. The ground movement is caused by gases being released in the underground water system of the pool.

Blue Star Spring

Blue Star Spring, Yellowstone National Park

The fourth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Blue Star Spring. This spring is about 1.5 miles from Black Sand Basin and is hardly a 5-minute drive or 40-minute walk, whichever you prefer.

The Blue Star Spring is a clear, deep blue pool with a rim of solid sinter that vaguely resembles a star, hence the name. The spring is usually gentle. However, do watch out for rare 1 to 2 feet splashes.

Fun Fact

During the early days of Yellowstone, this pool was used as a trash can. In the 1940s, George Marler decided to clean the spring. He came out with a rubbish pile that was 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. 

West Thumb Geyser Basin

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Fishing Cone, West Thumb Geyser Basin

The fifth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the West Thumb Geyser Basin. This group of geysers is about 20 miles or a 30-minutes drive from Blue Star Springs. 

The geysers here were formed 162,000 years ago when a magma chamber burst onto the earth’s surface and cracked along the ring’s zone. The source of the magma is about 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet below the surface.

The iconic landmark on West Thumb is the Fishing Cone, which is shown in the photo above. The Fishing Cone or the Fishing Hot Pot Springs as the cone no longer erupts. In the early 20th century, the cone used to erupt as high as 12 meters.

Fishing Cone got its name from the mountain men who used to fish in the cone and would immediately dunk the fish into the cone and cook in on the hook. By 1912, the park had banned the fishing and boiling of live fish at West Thumb Geyser Basin area.

How long do you need at West Thumb Geyser Basin?

The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is a 1.6 kilometer heavily trafficked loop on a boardwalk with views of the geyser and Yellowstone Lake.

What is interesting about West Thumb?

West Thumb is interesting in that it is the largest geyser on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The geysers here are one of the smallest and most scenic in the park.  

Is West Thumb worth visiting?

Yes! Definitely! Make sure to visit the Abyss Pool, Black Pool, the Fishing Cone, the Lakeshore Geyser, West Thumb Paint Pots, and the elk that roam the area.

Day 2: Hot Spring, Geyser, Mountain, and Cliff

On Day 2 of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, we visit other iconic sites in Yellowstone which are Mammoth Hot Spring, Hurricane Vent, Roaring Mountain, and end our day at the Obsidian Cliff.

Mammoth Hot Spring

4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, Mammoth Hot Spring

The sixth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Mammoth Hot Springs. These iconic hot springs are a complex of several hot springs that sit on a hill of travertine. The springs were created thousands of years ago as the water from the springs cooled and formed travertines.

The hot water at Mammoth travels from the Norris Geyser Basin through an underground fault line that is parallel to the Norris-Mammoth Road.

What is travertine?

Travertine is a limestone deposit that is found near hot mineral springs such as the Mammoth Hot Spring. This sedimentary rock is usually white, tan, or has a rusty color. In Italy, these rocks are used as building materials.

Are Mammoth Hot Springs open?

The Mammoth Hot Springs are open all year round.

How much time is needed for Mammoth Hot Springs?

You can expect to spend at least 2-hours hiking the Lower Terraces and Main Trail. This portion is a boardwalk trail which is about 1.75 miles with an elevation of 300 meters. The Upper Terrace Drive is a 1.5-mile loop that you can do in the comfort of your car. 

Hurricane Vent, Norris Geyser Basin

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Hurricane Vent, Norris Geyser Basin

The seventh in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Hurricane Vent. This vent is sometimes dry and other times is a murky blue color. This vent is within the Norris Geyser Basin which is the hottest geyser basin within the park.

Hurricane Vent is about 21 miles or a 40-minute drive from Mammoth Hot Springs. This vent is in Porcelain Basin within the Norris Geyser Basin. The fumarole here was once steamy and noisy. Due to geological activity, the steam has been reduced. 

Fun Fact

The tallest geyser in the world, the Steamboat Geyser is in Norris Basin. This geyser can launch superhot water 400 feet into the sky. Read The Cold Case of What’s Heating Yellowstone’s Steamboat Geyser and What Triggered Yellowstone’s Geyser to know more.

Roaring Mountain

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Roaring Mountain

The eighth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Roaring Mountain. Although no one knows who gave the mountain its name, the fumaroles on the western slope were so loud that you could hear the mountain roar, hiss, sigh, or whistle during the 1900s.

The mountain is located mid-way between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Basin and has a height of about 7,400 feet above sea level. 

Obsidian Cliff

4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, Obsidian Cliff

The ninth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Obsidian Cliff. This cliff is a 5-minute drive as it is about 3.4 miles from Roaring Mountain. It is easily recognizable with its vertical thickness of about 30 meters.

The cliffs are a result of a thick lava flow that cooled and crystallized about 180,000 years ago. The name was given by Philetus Norris who was the second Superintendent of the Yellowstone National Park in 1978. He referred to these cliffs are “The Glass Mountain”.

Where are the obsidian cliffs in Yellowstone?

The cliffs are about 13 miles south of Mammoth Hot Spring and on the East-side of the Mammoth-Norris section of the Grand Loop Road. From Roaring Mountain, head North along the US-89N where you will pass by the Semi-Centennial Glacier until you reach the cliffs. 

What is the significance of the Obsidian Cliff?

The cliffs were an important source of lithic materials for the pre-historic people of Yellowstone National Park. Several artifacts from Texas, Ohio, Washington, and Southern Alberta can trace their origins from the Obsidian Cliff at Yellowstone National Park.

Day 3: Canyon, Volcano, and Lake

On Day 3 of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, we explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mud Volcano, and end our day at Yellowstone Lake.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The tenth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This canyon is the first large canyon along the Yellowstone River. The canyon is about 24 miles in length with varying depths of 800 to 1,200 feet in certain areas.

The canyon was created more than 630,000 years when a massive volcanic eruption occurred in Yellowstone. Yellowstone River weakened the rocks that widen and deepen the canyon, which continues today.

The multi-hued colors of the canyon are the result of hydrothermal alteration. The rocks are a combination of iron compounds and when the rock oxidizes, the rusting effect takes place. This is the yellow that we see in the canyon.

What entrance is closest to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone?

The closest entrance is the North Entrance where you can take the North Rim Drive which begins 1.2 miles south of Canyon Junction. This one-way drive takes you to four accessible viewpoints of the canyon, with each stop showcasing the canyon’s power, color, and geology.

The South Rim Drive begins 2.3 miles south of Canyon Junction and takes you to the Upper Falls Viewpoint and the beautiful views of the canyon at Artist Point.

Mud Volcano

4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, mud volcano

The eleventh in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Mud Volcano. It was the Washburn Expedition and the Hayden Survey Group that discovered the mud volcano in the 1870s. This mud volcano is a 30-minute drive from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

This area is also known as the Black Dragon’s Caldron, Sour Lake, Mud Caldron, and Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The mud volcanos here are a combination of hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. 

Where is the mud volcano area in Yellowstone?

The mud volcano is 9.7-miles south of Canyon Junction of the Canyon to Fishing Bridge section of the Grand Loop Road. If you are coming from Fishing Bridge, it is 5.9 miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction.

Is mud volcano a real volcano?

No, mud volcanos are not real volcanos in the sense that they do not produce lava and are not driven by magmatic activity. Instead, mud volcanos are formed when water that has been heated below the Earth’s surface mixes with mineral deposits creates a mud slurry.

Is Mud Volcano worth visiting?

Yes, the Mud Volcano Trail is a 1.3 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail across geothermal features and educational signages throughout the wooden boardwalk trail.

Yellowstone Lake

4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, Yellowstone Lake, sunrise

The twelfth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Yellowstone Lake. This lake is the largest in the park and has an elevation of 7,732 meters above sea level and a depth of 139 feet and is about a 15-minute drive from the mud volcano. The lake freezes in winter and remains frozen until early June.

To admire the true beauty of the lake, hike the Pelican Creek Trail which is an easy 1.3-kilometer track with beautiful views of the lake. For the adventurous, hike the Storm Point Trail which is a 4-kilometer moderately tracked loop trail. 

The challenging trails are Elephant Back Mountain Trail which is a 5.8-kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail. The most difficult trail is the Avalance Peak Trail which is a 7.2-kilometer heavily-trafficked trail that would test your physical stamina with views that are worth the hike.

Is Yellowstone Lake safe to swim in?

No, swimming in Yellowstone is not safe and not recommended at all. As this is a high elevation lake that is frozen most of the year, its waters are extremely cold. If you decide to take a dip, you are doing it at your own risk as no lifeguards are available.

How cold is the water in Yellowstone Lake?

The water at Yellowstone Lake remains cold all year round with an average temperature of 41°F (5°C). Humans have an average survival time of a maximum of 30 minutes before hypothermia sets in. 

Day 4: Roosevelt Tower & Lamar Valley

On Day 4 of our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, we take it easy and spend a relaxing day with two of Yellowstone’s iconic landmarks. The first is Roosevelt Arch and the second is Lamar Valley.

Roosevelt Arch

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Roosevelt Arch, Gardiner, MT

The thirteenth in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is the Roosevelt Arch. This arch is a triumphal arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone. The arch was built under the supervision of the US Army while its cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The idea to build the arch came from Hiram Martin Chittenden who felt that the town of Gardiner needed an impressive statement of arrival to the park. The arch stands at 52 feet and the hexagonal blocks used to build it was quarried locally.

What did Roosevelt have to do with Yellowstone?

President Theodore Roosevelt is the “conservation president” of the United States as during his tenure, he signed legislation that created five new national parks. These are Crater Lake, Oregon; Wind Cave, South Dakota; Sullys Hill, North Dakota; Mesa Verde, Colorado; and Platt in Oklahoma. 

During his visit, he decided to “rough it out” and spent two weeks at the park. While the president found the geysers boring, he was awestruck with Yellowstone’s scenery and wildlife.

Where did Teddy Roosevelt stay in Yellowstone?

President Teddy Roosevelt stayed at the Roosevelt Lodge that is located near the Tower Junction on Grand Loop Road. This lodge is part of the National Historic District within Yellowstone Park.

Lamar Valley

4 days in Yellowstone Itinerary, Lamar Valley, America's Serengeti

The fourteenth and last in our 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary is Lamar Valley. The Lamar River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River and is about 40 miles in length. The river is entirely in Yellowstone National Park.

Lamar River Valley is a popular destination for anglers for fly fishing, its wildlife teeming with bison, bears, and two famous wolfpacks. The valley is known as “America’s Serengeti”. The valley is about a 40-minute drive from the Roosevelt Arch.

What is special about Lamar Valley Yellowstone?

If you are into wildlife viewing, then Lamar Valley is perfect for you. We brought our Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binoculars that are waterproof, fog-proof, and are easy to use. The wildlife here includes grizzly bears, black bears, antelopes, osprey, bald eagles, and big-horn sheep.

What is there to do in Lamar Valley?

Some of the things do in Lamar Valley are:

  1. Visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Centre.
  2. Stop by Hayden Valley which is home to the largest free-roaming bison in the world.
  3. Get a panoramic view of Yellowstone from Mount Washburn which is 10,200 meters above sea level and has a visibility of 20 to 50 miles.
  4. Hike the Trout Lake Trail Route which is 30 miles northeast of Mount Washburn. The trail is an easy 1.2-mile loop and is flat and well-maintained.
Is Lamar Valley worth visiting?

Yes! Lamar Valley is worth visiting. However, the best time to view the wildlife is either at dawn or dusk

What is the best month to visit Yellowstone National Park?

Before considering 4 days in Yellowstone itinerary, it is essential to determine the best months to visit Yellowstone National Park.

The spring months of April to May are the best times to visit as you experience the park slowly coming out from its winter hibernation. There are no hordes of tourists as the average temperatures are between 11.1°C with lows of -7.8°C. 

During the summer months of June to August, you can expect hordes of tourists as all park facilities are open. The park welcomes about 2 million visitors during these months, so it would be wise to book your accommodation months in advance.

The autumn months of September to October are another best time to visit the park as the summer crowds have reduced with the weather being mild. By mid-September, facilities would close early and by mid-October, seasonal road closures begin.

The winter months begin from November to March and at this time, only the North Entrance is opened to vehicles. Winters are severe as there is heavy snowfall with daytime temperatures hardly above freezing levels. 

Which entrance of Yellowstone is best to stay at?

To determine which entrance is the best to stay at, we take you through the five entrances, its closest attractions, and our choice of hotels to stay in Yellowstone.

North Entrance

The Yellowstone North Entrance is the only entrance that is open all year round and comprises the North Entrance Road Historic District that begins from Gardiner, Montana to the Mammoth Hot Springs. 

Gardiner has an authentic Old West quaint and is nestled in Paradise Valley with Yellowstone River running through the town. The iconic Roosevelt Arch is here with the Mammoth Hot Springs just 5 miles away. The Old Faithful is 56 miles from Gardiner.

Some of the best hotels to stay here are:-

Yellowstone Basin Inn

Yellowstone Riverside Cottages

Creek Cabin

Northeast Entrance

If you are into beautiful scenery, then this entrance is for you as it takes you to the doorstep of Lamar Valley. The closest city is Cooke City in Montana and Silver Gate. This entrance is closed during the winter months.

Some of the best hotels to stay near this entrance are:-

Alpine Lodge

Chateau Rouge

Red Lodge Retreat

East Entrance

If you just want to visit Yellowstone Lake, then the East Entrance is the best place to stay. The accommodation options are at the town of Cody, which was founded by the legendary Buffalo Bill himself.  Cody is about 53 miles from the park’s East Entrance.

The best hotels in the town of Cody are:-

The Cody

Irma Hotel

Hampton Inn & Suites

South Entrance

If you are planning on taking on two national parks on one trip, then your best option would be the South Entrance. From Jackson, you can stop by the Grand Teton National Park along the 57 miles to get to Yellowstone National Park.

Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch

West Entrance

The West Entrance brings you to the best geysers of the park. You can choose either the Lower Geyser Basin, Upper Geyser Basin, and the Midway Geyser Basin with Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Steamboat Geyser, and Fountain Paint Pot which are all within miles from each other.

The best hotels to stay in are:

Yellowstone Park Hotel

Holiday Inn West Yellowstone

The Adventure Inn Yellowstone

Is Yellowstone worth it?

Yes! Absolutely! A trip to Yellowstone is a must-do, at least once in a lifetime. 

Although the park isn’t the most visited national park in the United States, here are 5 reasons why you must make that trip to Yellowstone.

  1. First National Park in the United States. The park is the first to be established by law in 1872 for the pleasure and enjoyment of the people.
  2. Geysers. The most famous geyser, the Old Faithful, and the world’s tallest active geyser, the Steamboat are both at Yellowstone National Park.
  3. Ancient Tribal Connections. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Yellowstone was inhabited by the Kiowa tribe whose oral stories place their ancestors in this area between the 1400s to 1700s. 
  4. America’s Serengeti. The Lamar Valley within the park is nicknamed America’s Serengeti where wild bison, bears, deers, wolves, and coyotes roam the land. 

RELATED:

9 Beautiful Lavender Fields in California

5 Days In Los Angeles Itinerary: A Captivating Guide

5 Days In Oahu Itinerary: Your Exclusive Guide