The Complete Visitor’s Guide to Yellowstone National Park

People love Yellowstone National Park for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and widespread geothermal activity.

Much of the park can be seen from the road, but we recommend taking time to stop, get out of the car, and hike for at least a mile. The real beauty of Yellowstone National Park is off the beaten path.

Below is Beyond the Tent’s Ultimate Visitor’s Guide to Yellowstone National Park. We cover both the most popular destinations as well as the hidden places few people have heard about.

Use our comprehensive guidebook to make the most of your next trip to Yellowstone.


  1. Park Highlights
  2. Ecosystems
  3. History
  4. Weather
  5. Camping
  6. Lodging
  7. Hiking & Backpacking
  8. Other Activities
  9. Must-See Destinations
  10. Plan Your Visit
  11. Additional Resources
  12. Resources Used

Yellowstone National Park Highlights

Over 4,200,000 people visit Yellowstone National Park each year. It’s the 6th most visited national park in the country.

Largely located in Montana and Wyoming (with a sliver in Idaho), the 2.2-million-acre park has a little something for everyone.

Animal lovers rejoice at the startling array of wildlife, including the largest concentration of mammals in the continental United States. Head out bright and early to spot grizzly bears, gray wolves, bison, bighorn sheep, and other species.

Bird lovers have just as many viewing opportunities. 330 species of birds have been seen in the park. 150 of these species are known to nest in the park.

Yellowstone’s unique position atop the Yellowstone Caldera, a massive super volcano, gives the park its amazing geothermal features.

Old Faithful, a highly predictable geyser whose water eruptions rise to over 100 feet roughly every hour, is the most popular. The park has over 300 additional geysers plus boiling mud pots, brilliantly colored hot springs, and steaming fumaroles.

Around 1,300 miles of hiking and backpacking trails are located in Yellowstone. Horseback riding is allowed in select areas. The best times for hiking the Yellowstone backcountry are late spring through early fall.

Temperatures are warmest and snow levels lowest from June to August. The downside to visiting in the summer is dealing with huge crowds. U.S. News recommends visiting from April to May or September to November instead.

Visiting Yellowstone in winter is possible yet much of the park is closed. Only two out of the five entrances are open year-round (the two northern entrances). Popular winter activities in Yellowstone include skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

It’s just not possible to see all of Yellowstone National Park in a single visit. Even locals that visit the park regularly are only able to scratch the surface.

Yellowstone National Park Ecosystems

Yellowstone National Park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

One of the last and largest intact ecosystems in the world, it’s centered on the national park and continues to span outward far outside its borders.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the world. In addition to geothermal activity and other geologic wonders, it boasts an amazing concentration of wildlife and vegetation.

The park is mostly made up of subalpine forest (the area just below the tree line). The average elevation throughout the park is about 8,000 feet above sea level. Most of the park is above at least 7,500 feet above sea level.

This high elevation along with thousands of years of volcanic activity have created one of the most unique ecosystems on earth.

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the continental United States.

An amazing variety of plant life is also found in Yellowstone. It ranges from thick forests of lodge pole pines to colorful wildflower meadows to sagebrush steppes and wide open grasslands.

Yellowstone National Park History

The history of Yellowstone National Park can be broken down into three subsections. These are its natural/geologic history, early human history, and national park history.


Long before humans arrived, a massive eruption, estimated at 1,000 times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980, occurred in the Yellowstone area. It left behind a massive (34 by 45-mile) caldera.

Eruptions such as these are relatively common in Yellowstone. They occur roughly every 600,000 to 900,000 years. The eruptions are so large they actually change the climate as well as the landscape.

Thousands of small earthquakes also occur in the area each year. Each of these has further shaped the geology of the park.

Early Humans

Native Americans first showed up in what is now Yellowstone National Park at least 11,000 years ago.

Numerous tribes used the area for hunting and fishing, including the Blackfeet, Crow, Nez Perce, and Shoshone among others.

Abundant obsidian was perfect for crafting arrowheads. Some of these have been found as far away as the Mississippi River valley.

French trappers were the first Europeans to visit the area. The legend of Yellowstone grew quickly as explorers, trappers, and mountain men told tales of its geothermal activity.

However, it wasn’t until after the Civil War that the first expedition was dispatched to Yellowstone for surveying and research. Soon after, in 1872, Yellowstone National Park was created by President Ulysses S. Grant.

Park History

Yellowstone National Park was a largely lawless place after it was created in 1872.

Poaching was common even though the park was supposed to be protected. The creation of Fort Yellowstone helped put an end to this problem.

Yellowstone was initially very difficult to get to. Visitor numbers skyrocketed from only 300 a year to over 5,000 a year when a railroad station opened in nearby Livingston in 1883.

However, it was the advent of the automobile that truly made Yellowstone a popular travel destination. The 20th century led to a boom in visitors, especially after World War II ended.

Yellowstone National Park Weather

Yellowstone National Park has a highly variable climate because of its high elevation. The weather can change rapidly from one minute to the next.

It’s important for visitors, no matter the season, to pack extra layers of clothing. It’s not uncommon to experience warmth and sun as well as cold and rain in a single day.

The summer months are the best time to visit as far as weather in concerned. Temperatures during the day tend to hover around 70°F, but cool off considerably at night, often dipping to freezing or below.

Spring and fall are decent times of the year to visit Yellowstone. Expect temperatures between 30°F and 60°F during spring and fall months. Be aware that snow is common in both spring and fall.

Expect cold temperatures if you visit Yellowstone in winter. The average temperature is anywhere from 20°F all the way down to 0°F and below.

Yellowstone receives a ton of snow during the winter. 150 inches is the annual average throughout the park. Higher elevations regularly receive 300 inches or more.

It’s important to emphasize the unpredictability of Yellowstone’s weather. Prepare for cold, rain, and even light snow even if you’re planning a visit for the middle of summer.

Camping in Yellowstone National Park

We highly recommend camping in Yellowstone National Park. It’s one of the best ways to get the full Yellowstone experience.

The park is home to 12 campgrounds. Dozens of others are located just outside of its borders.

Yellowstone’s 12 campgrounds are spread throughout the area. If you’re attempting to see the entire park, it’s best to camp in multiple campgrounds rather than stay in a single one for the duration of your trip.

Xanterra manages 5 of the campgrounds. They are the largest campgrounds and feature the most amenities, including flush toilets and sometimes showers. Reservations are available (and usually needed) at these campgrounds.

The National Park Service manages the remaining 7 campgrounds. These campgrounds are smaller and only have vault toilets. All NPS campgrounds are first-come, first-served.

Here is our brief guide to camping in Yellowstone National Park:

Madison Campground (Xanterra)

Madison Campground is located just 13 miles from Yellowstone’s west entrance. It’s the perfect jumping off point for exploring Old Faithful and the Madison River. It’s proximity to the river makes it a hit with anglers.

The campground is open from late April to mid-October. It has 278 reservable sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets and running water are available.

Learn more about Madison Campground.

Canyon Village Campground (Xanterra)

Canyon Village Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park. It’s located just one mile from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The campground is open late May to late September. It has 270 reservable sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets, running water, and showers are available.

Learn more about Canyon Village Campground.

Bridge Bay Campground (Xanterra)

Bridge Bay Campground is the biggest campground in Yellowstone National Park. It’s located next to Lake Yellowstone. It’s very popular with fishers and boaters.

The campground is open mid-May to mid-September. It has 400 reservable sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets and running water are available.

Learn more about Bridge Bay Campground.

Fishing Bridge RV Park (Xanterra)

Fishing Bridge RV Park is the ultimate spot for RV camping in Yellowstone. It’s the only campground with full hook-ups for RVs. It’s located on Yellowstone Lake’s north shore.

The campground is open early May to mid-September. It has 340 reservable sites designated for RVs only. Flush toilets, running water, showers, and laundry services are available.

Learn more about Fishing Bridge RV Park.

Grant Village Campground (Xanterra)

Grant Village Campground is located on Yellowstone Lake’s southwest shore. It’s the best jumping off point for exploring the nearby geothermal features of West Thumb Geyser Basin.

The campground is open early June to mid-September. It has over 400 reservable sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets, running water, and showers are available.

Learn more about Grant Village Campground.

Norris Hot Springs Campground (NPS)

Norris Hot Springs Campground is undoubtedly one of the most pleasant places to camp in Yellowstone. It sits on the Gibbon River next to a large meadow where bison sightings are common.

The campground is open mid-May to late September. It has 111 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets and running water is available.

Learn more about Norris Hot Springs Campground.

Mammoth Hot Springs Campground (NPS)

Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is the only Yellowstone campground open year-round. It’s located a short walk away from its namesake hot springs.

The campground is open all year, though there’s a 30’ length limit for RVs in the winter. It has 85 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly. Flush toilets and running water is available.

Learn more about Mammoth Hot Springs Campground.

Indian Creek Campground (NPS)

People love Indian Creek Campground for its quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Unlike most other campgrounds in Yellowstone, generators are not allowed here.

The campground is open mid-June to mid-September. It has 70 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly (no generators). It has vault toilets only.

Learn more about Indian Creek Campground.

Pebble Creek Campground (NPS)

Pebble Creek Campground is the best choice for those that want a remote Yellowstone experience. It’s location in the northeast corner of the park makes it ideal for early morning wildlife watching in the Lamar Valley.

The campground is open mid-June to late September. It has 27 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly (no generators). It has vault toilets only.

Learn more about Pebble Creek Campground.

Slough Creek Campground (NPS)

Slough Creek Campground is the most legendary campground in Yellowstone. It’s nestled along the banks of Slough Creek two miles into the Lamar Valley. Arrive early – this first-come, first-served campground fills just after sunrise.

The campground is open mid-June to early October. It has 16 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly (up to 30’). It has vault toilets only.

Learn more about Slough Creek Campground.

Tower Fall Campground (NPS)

Those interested in a convenient home base for exploring the northern reaches of Yellowstone should check out Tower Fall Campground. It’s just across the road from Tower Fall.

The campground is open late May to late September. It has 31 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly. It has vault toilets only.

Learn more about Tower Fall Campground.

Lewis Lake Campground (NPS)

The southernmost campground in Yellowstone, Lewis Lake Campground is perfect for those on their way to Grand Teton National Park.

The campground is open mid-June to early November. It has 85 first-come, first-served sites and is RV friendly. It has vault toilets only.

Learn more about Lewis Lake Campground.

Backcountry Camping

Just visiting Yellowstone’s developed areas is a recipe for a great trip. But it’s truly a whole different experience to step off the beaten path and camp in the backcountry.

Opportunities for backcountry camping in Yellowstone National park are numerous. Dozens of sites are scattered throughout the park, each capable of accommodating anywhere from 1 to 12 backpackers.

Trail Guides Yellowstone has an excellent backcountry campsite locator.

You must pick up a backcountry permit from one of the 9 ranger stations, visitor centers, or information stations in the park.

Lodging in Yellowstone National Park

Nine lodging options are available within Yellowstone’s borders. These range from simple cabins to sprawling lodges.

Remember that Yellowstone’s hotels, lodges, and cabins fill up fast, especially during the summer months. Make reservations well in advance.

Dozens of lodging options are also available just outside the park’s borders. These are perfect for those that forgot to book in-park lodging in advance.

Here is our brief guide to lodging in Yellowstone National Park:

Canyon Lodge

Canyon Lodge is the largest lodging facility in the park with over 500 rooms and cabins. It’s located just minutes from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

It’s open from early June to early October. It features multiple lodge buildings and a smattering of cabins as well as restaurants and gift shops.

Learn more about Canyon Lodge.

Grant Village Lodge

Grant Village Lodge boasts two hotel buildings with 50 rooms each. Rooms are slightly cheaper than most others in the park. It’s located near Grant Village Campground next to the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.

It’s open mid-May to the beginning of October. In addition to the two hotel buildings, it features two restaurants, a cafeteria, a lounge, and a gift shop.

Learn more about Grant Village Lodge.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins

Lake Yellowstone Hotel is one of the most historic structures in the park. It’s designed in the Colonial Revival style. It sits on the beautiful shores of Lake Yellowstone.

It’s open from early May to early October. Once known for their simple, rustic charm, recent renovations give rooms much more elegance. A dining room, bar, and boat pier are all available.

Learn more about Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins.

Lake Lodge Cabins

Lake Lodge Cabins are located on the shore of Lake Yellowstone. They feature a main lodge building flanked with several small log cabins.

They’re open from early June to late September. Both recently renovated and more rustic cabins are available. A large lobby with two fireplaces is located in the main lodge building.

Learn more about Lake Lodge Cabins.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is notable as the only year-round lodging in Yellowstone National Park. The main hotel was built in 1936.

Though the hotel is open year-round, the cabins are only open during the summer. Both simple cabins and premium cabins (with hot tubs) are available. A popular restaurant is also on-site.

Learn more about Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins.

Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn is the most well-known lodge in the park. It was originally constructed in 1903. It’s registered as a national historic site.

It’s open from early May to early October. It boasts 327 rooms as well as a gigantic stone fireplace in the lobby. A restaurant, lounge, and snack bar are available.

Learn more about Old Faithful Inn.

Old Faithful Lodge Cabins

Old Faithful Lodge Cabins consist of a main lodge building (complete with a view of Old Faithful Geyser) plus several small cabins.

It’s open from mid-May to the beginning of October. It features a restaurant, bakery, and gift shop.

Learn more about Old Faithful Lodge Cabins.

Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins

The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins are one of the newest additions to the park’s lodging buildings.

They’re open from December to March and May through October. Two restaurants and a gift shop are also available.

Learn more about Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins.

Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins

Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins are just minutes from Tower Fall. They’re notable for their location near where President Theodore Roosevelt once camped.

They’re open from early June to early September. A main lodge plus several cabins (both premium and rustic) are available. Ride out into the backcountry on horseback or a stagecoach for the delicious Old West Dinner Cookout, a hit with families with children of all ages.

Learn more about Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins.

Outside the Park

Staying outside the park is a great option for those visiting Yellowstone National Park on a budget.

Dozens of additional options for campgrounds, hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and more are available just outside the park’s borders.

Look for lodging in nearby towns like Gardiner, Cooke City, Island Park, East Yellowstone, Cody, West Yellowstone, Livingston, and Jackson.

Note that lodging outside of the park is often available even when all of the accommodations in Yellowstone National Park are booked full.

Hiking & Backpacking in Yellowstone National Park

Hiking in Yellowstone National Park is one of the best ways to see the area the way it was meant to be seen – with minimal other human beings around.

Remember that most of Yellowstone is covered in snow during the fall, winter, and spring months, so most of these hiking trails are for summer use only.

Recommended Trails by Region

Yellowstone National Park hiking can be broken down into 8 distinct regions. Each region contains dozens of great hikes, but we’ve decided to list the absolute best one for each.

AllTrails guide to the best trails in Yellowstone National Park is another essential resource for those interested in hiking and backpacking in the area.

Also of note is our guide to planning a backpacking trip. It’s designed to help backpacking newbies prepare for a safe and fun trip.

Pelican Valley (Region: Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, & Yellowstone Lake)

Pelican Valley is a classic Yellowstone National Park hike. It takes you 6.8 miles roundtrip through prime grizzly bear country. The trail meanders through meadows, a forest, and a small hydrothermal area before reaching a cutbank with views of Pelican Creek. Day hikers turn around here while overnight backpackers continue on into the vast backcountry beyond.

Learn more about Pelican Valley.

Lake Overlook (Region: West Thumb & Grant Village)

Lake Overlook is a short, sweet hike for those that want to see something off the beaten path. It’s just 1.2 miles roundtrip. The trail starts near the West Thumb Geyser Basin, passing geothermal features, before passing a high mountain meadow with views of Yellowstone Lake.

Learn more about Lake Overlook.

Fairy Falls (Region: Old Faithful)

Fairy Falls is either a 5-mile or 7-mile round trip hike. It’s known as one of the most beautiful hikes in Yellowstone National Park. You pass countless geysers and other thermal features (including the impressive Imperial Geyser) before ending at the 197-foot Fairy Falls.

Learn more about Fairy Falls.

The Sky Rim Trail (Region: Madison)

Backpacking in Yellowstone National Park doesn’t get better than The Sky Rim Trail. The 21-mile trail is perfect for a short overnight trip. It passes along several ridges and peaks with amazing views. Be wary though – over 3,000 feet of elevation gain makes this a demanding hike.

Learn more about The Sky Rim Trail.

Grizzly Lake (Region: Norris)

Just south of Beaver Lake, the 4-mile roundtrip hike at Grizzly Lake meanders through pleasant meadows to a long, narrow lake. The area around the lake is heavily wooded and quite swampy, but many anglers push on to fish it for brook trout.

Learn more about Grizzly Lake.

Bunsen Peak (Region: Mammoth)

Just 5 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs is the ever popular Bunsen Peak hike. At 4.2 miles, it’s not exactly long, but it’s still strenuous. It climbs 1,300 feet from a thick forest to the peak’s summit. Stop for breathtaking views of Blacktail Plateau, Yellowstone River Valley, and the Gallatin Mountain Range.

Learn more about Bunsen Peak.

Mount Washburn (Region: Tower-Roosevelt)

The trail at Mount Washburn ranges in length from 2.5 to 8.7 to 13.6 miles depending on your starting point. The strenuous hike climbs 1,400 feet to the mountain’s summit. Keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep as you enjoy the beautiful view from the top.

Learn more about Mount Washburn.

Cascade Lake (Region: Canyon)

Cascade Lake is a 5-mile long, mostly flat trail. It’s easy enough for Yellowstone hikers of all ages and skill levels. The trail wanders through colorful wildflower meadows. Keep your eyes open – you might just spot some of the wildlife that also loves the area.

Learn more about Cascade Lake.

Backcountry Permits

Those backpacking in Yellowstone National Park must first obtain a backcountry permit.

They can be found at 9 locations throughout the park, including Bechler Range Station, Bridge Bay Ranger Station, Canyon Visitor Center, Grant Village Visitor Center, Mammoth Visitor Center, Old Faithful Ranger Station, Tower Backcountry Office, and West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center.

You must obtain your backcountry no more than 48 hours before the start of your trip.

A small backpacking fee of $3 per person per night is required for those backpacking between Memorial Day and September 10th.

Also note that many of the campsites along the park’s most popular backpacking routes can (and should) be booked in advance.

Wildlife Safety

You are required to bring and properly use a bear resistant container while overnight backpacking in Yellowstone National Park, no matter the specific location or elevation.

The container you use must be approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Other Activities in Yellowstone National Park

Camping, hiking, and backpacking aren’t the only recreational activities in Yellowstone National Park.

Here are a few other great ways to enjoy the park:


Bicycling in Yellowstone National Park is a popular way to enjoy the area. Bring your own bikes or rent bikes at the Old Faithful Lodge.

Bicycling is restricted to established public roads and designated routes. Always wear bike safety gear and be wary of automobiles since you’ll be sharing most roads with them.


Both motorized and non-motorized boating in Yellowstone National Park is allowed in designated areas.

Permits must be obtained at a ranger station, backcountry office, or visitor center. All passengers must wear Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices.

Eating & Drinking

Yellowstone offers numerous in-park opportunities for eating and drinking, including snack shops, cafeterias, casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and lounges.

Roosevelt Lodge is top rated for its “cowboy” style fare and “after dinner libations.” Eat in the dining room or ride out into the backcountry via horse or wagon for a cowboy cookout.


Yellowstone is home to some of the best fishing in the world. Anglers target Yellowstone cutthroat trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout among others.

Be sure to check fishing season dates and regulations before fishing in Yellowstone National Park.

Horseback Riding

There are ample opportunities for horseback riding in Yellowstone National Park.

Bring private stock into the park (overnight trips are only permitted in summer) or take a guided horseback ride out of the lodge areas at Mammoth, Tower-Roosevelt, or Canyon.

Ranger Programs

Yellowstone has a variety of informational ranger programs including guided ranger walks, junior ranger programs, and young scientist programs.


One of the most popular winter activities in Yellowstone National Park is skiing. There are numerous opportunities for both cross country and downhill skiing, ranging from easy to difficult to backcountry.


It’s long been a winter tradition to snowmobile Yellowstone National Park. However, years of controversy have led to new regulations that restrict the number of snowmobiles allowed into the park each day.

However, snowmobiling is still a great way to see the park in the winter, whether you bring your own or join a snowmobile guided tour.


Miles of trail are available for those interested in snowshoeing Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Be sure to know your personal limits and talk with rangers about specific weather and snow conditions before heading out.


Swimming in Yellowstone National Park is allowed at the Firehole Cascades swimming area as well as the Boiling River and Yellowstone Lake.

No lifeguards are on duty at any of these locations. Temperatures, especially in the lake, rarely exceed 66°F. The National Park Service doesn’t encourage swimming anywhere in Yellowstone.

Wildlife Viewing

Perhaps the single most popular reason to visit Yellowstone National Park is the wildlife viewing.

The park contains dozens of species of big mammals, including bison, deer, wolves, bears, big-horn sheep, and elk. Many of these animals, especially wolves and bears, are only active early in the morning and just before sunset.

Ask rangers where wildlife activity has been heavy to increase your chances of spotting the animals you’re looking for.

Also note that the wildlife in Yellowstone is dangerous. Stay at least 100 yards away from bears or wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other wildlife.

Lamar Valley is one of the most common places to see wildlife in the park.

Yellowstone National Park Must-See Destinations

Yellowstone National Park is filled to the brim with must-see destinations. Below are a handful of the most popular Yellowstone National Park destinations that every visitor should add to their travel plans.

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser is the face of Yellowstone National Park. The large geyser erupts on a regular basis, drawing in huge crowds of onlookers. The geyser basin surrounding Old Faithful has over 150 additional geysers of all sizes. Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the largest and most colorful in the park, is also located nearby.

Yellowstone Lake

A must-see destination if there ever was one, Yellowstone Lake is roughly 20 miles long by 14 miles wide. The 132-square mile lake is the largest lake above 7,000 feet sea level in North America (it sits at 7,733 feet above sea level).

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

One of the most impressive geologic features in the park, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is roughly 20 miles in length. The Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone are two of the most popular individual overlooks, both with short hikes to the viewpoints.

Mammoth Hot Springs

No other thermal feature in Yellowstone is quite like Mammoth Hot Springs. The process behind their formation leaves a white chalky material on the surface. The formations change rapidly with the flow of the springs fluctuating daily.

Lamar Valley

One of the most rugged regions in the park, Lamar Valley is one of the best places to spot wildlife, especially bear and wolves, in Yellowstone.

Norris Geyser Basin

Norris Geyser Basin is home to a variety of geothermal features. These include colorful hot springs, bubbling mud pots, geysers, and more.

Plan Your Visit to Yellowstone National Park

Use the resources below to help plan your next Yellowstone National Park vacation, whether you visit for just a day or two or for a whole week or longer.

How to Get There

A car is one of the best ways to enter and explore Yellowstone National Park.

However, a car will only get you so far. To truly experience the park in all its glory, it’s essential to do a little hiking.

There are 5 entrances to the park: North, Northeast, East, South, and West. The two northern entrances are the only ones open in the winter.

Bicycling is another rewarding way to get to and around in the park. Bus tours are also available from all Xanterra lodges during the summer.

Hours and Seasons

Yellowstone National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, because of its high elevation, winters are harsh. The best time to visit the park is late spring through early fall.

Fees and Passes

Yellowstone National Park hosts free entrance days several times a year.

If you visit at any other time of the year, you must pay $25.00 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.

Buy the America the Beautiful Pass for $80 for entrance to all federal recreation sites, including national parks, for one year.

Visit with Pets

Leashed pets are permitted in all front-country campgrounds, picnic areas, and parking lots.

Pets are not allowed off leash or on trails. All hotels and lodges restrict pets, except for certain cabins.

Nearby Points of Interest

The area surrounding Yellowstone National Park has countless points of interest. The must-see one is Grand Teton National Park to the south.

Additional Resources

At Beyond the Tent, we’re here to help you make the most out of your next trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Check out our family camping checklist and camping for beginners guide if you plan to camp in Yellowstone.

Want the best camping gear for your trip? Check out our posts on luxury camping gear and the coolest new camping gear.

Taking the adventure to the next level by backpacking in Yellowstone National Park? Then our complete guide to planning a backpacking trip is for you.

Yellowstone National Park Photos Pinterest

Resources Used


  1. Wow! I had no idea that there was so much available at Yellowstone! This article made what once was a “Eh maybe I should visit it one day” place into a “Must-See Bucketlist” place. Thanks for this great article 🙂


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