What You Need to Know About Yellowstone’s Entrances to Choose the Best One for Your Trip

Yellowstone National Park is an iconic destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its vast expanse of wilderness, stunning geothermal features, and diverse wildlife, there is no shortage of things to explore within the park. But before you can begin your Yellowstone adventure, you must first choose which entrance to use.

There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park, each offering its own unique gateway to this incredible landscape. In this article, we will take a closer look at each entrance and what you can expect when entering the park from each one.

North Entrance

Roosevelt Arch by the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Arch: This iconic entrance to Yellowstone National Park by Gardiner will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance is one of the five main entrances to the park, and it is located in Gardiner, Montana, which is the nearest town outside the park. Gardiner is a small town with a population of about 900 people, but it offers a variety of lodging and dining options for visitors.

The North Entrance is a great starting point for exploring Yellowstone National Park, with plenty of lodging and dining options nearby and several attractions located within a short distance from the entrance. It is also the only entrance open year-round (weather permitting).

We consider the north entrance to be the most iconic since it has the famous Roosevelt Arch with the Teddy Roosevelt quote inscribed above it: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”

Inside the park near the North Entrance, visitors can find several lodging options, including Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, which offers a range of accommodations from hotel rooms to cabins. Visitors can also find dining options at Mammoth Hot Springs, including a restaurant and a cafeteria.

There are several attractions near the North Entrance, including Mammoth Hot Springs, which is a series of hot springs and terraces that are formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate. Visitors can also see wildlife, such as elk and bison, near the entrance. In addition, the Lamar Valley, which is known for its wildlife viewing opportunities, is located just east of the North Entrance.

Northeast Entrance

Cooke City is a small town in Montana that is right by the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Cooke City

The northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park is a picturesque gateway to one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world. The nearest town outside the park is Cooke City, Montana, which offers a small range of lodging and dining options for visitors.

Inside the park, there are several lodging and food options near the northeast entrance, including the historic Roosevelt Lodge Cabins, which offer rustic accommodations and a dining room serving up hearty western fare. The nearby Canyon Village also has a range of lodging options, including cabins, lodges, and campsites, as well as several dining options.

The northeast entrance is home to several popular attractions, including the Lamar Valley, known for its abundant wildlife, and the Tower Falls, a stunning waterfall that cascades down a 132-foot drop. Visitors can also explore the Petrified Tree, a unique fossilized tree that is estimated to be over 50 million years old.

Driving along the Beartooth Highway to get to and from the northeast entrance is a breathtaking experience. The highway winds through the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, connecting Red Lodge with Cooke City. The drive has stunning views of snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, and vibrant wildflowers. It’s important for visitors to note that the highway is only open seasonally, typically from late May to mid-October, due to snow and other weather-related conditions. It’s also not for the faint of heart though due to numerous cliff-hugging bends in the road.

East Entrance

Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance is a stunning gateway to the park’s natural wonders. The nearest town outside the park is Cody, Wyoming, which is approximately 53 miles away from the east entrance.

There are several lodging options available inside Yellowstone National Park near the east entrance, including Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Lake Lodge Cabins, and Grant Village. These options provide visitors with comfortable accommodations and easy access to the park’s attractions.

When it comes to food options, visitors can enjoy dining at Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room, Lake Lodge Cafeteria, or Grant Village Restaurant. These restaurants offer a variety of delicious meals that cater to different dietary needs.

The east entrance of Yellowstone National Park is home to several exciting attractions, including Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest high-altitude lake in North America. Visitors can also explore the Fishing Bridge, which is a popular spot for fishing and observing wildlife. For those looking for a scenic drive, the east entrance also offers the opportunity to drive along the Sylvan Pass, which provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

—> Read More: Best Things to See in Yellowstone National Park

South Entrance

Jackson Lake, one of the last main stops in Grand Teton before you get to Yellowstone border

Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance is located near the town of Jackson, Wyoming. The south entrance is one of five entrances to the park, and is used most often for those coming from Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park.

Inside the park, there are several lodging options near the south entrance, including the Old Faithful Inn and the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Both of these options offer a variety of room types and amenities, including restaurants, gift shops, and other services.

In terms of food options, there are several options near the south entrance. For a quick bite, the Geyser Grill and the Old Faithful Deli offer fast food options. For a more formal dining experience, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room and the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room offer fine dining options.

Near the south entrance, there are several attractions that visitors can enjoy. The Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most popular attractions in the park, with eruptions that occur every 60-90 minutes. The Grand Prismatic Spring is another popular attraction, with its vibrant colors and unique geology. Additionally, visitors can take scenic drives along the park’s roads, go hiking, or enjoy wildlife watching.

West Entrance

View shortly after driving through the West Entrance

Last, but certainly not least is the west entrance, Yellowstone’s busiest entrance during the summer. The west entrance is located near the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. This town is just a mile from the west entrance and offers a variety of lodging and dining options for visitors.

During summer, this is by far the busiest entrance in the park due to the amount of lodging in West Yellowstone and how close it is to Big Sky. This can create traffic backups in the morning, but usually is quick to get through the gates in the afternoon.

Inside the park near the west entrance, there are several options for lodging and dining as well. The Old Faithful Inn and the Old Faithful Lodge are two popular options for lodging, both offering rustic charm and easy access to the park’s attractions. The Geyser Grill and the Bear Paw Deli are two dining options located near the Old Faithful area.

The west entrance is an easy gateway to some of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions, including the iconic Old Faithful geyser. Other popular attractions near the west entrance include the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Norris Geyser Basin, and Firehole Canyon.

Visitors to the west entrance can also enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives throughout the park. With its convenient location and variety of attractions, the west entrance is an excellent starting point for any Yellowstone adventure.

Each Yellowstone Entrance Has Something to Offer

Yellowstone National Park offers visitors a variety of entrances to explore its natural wonders, each with its own unique characteristics and attractions. Whether entering from the north, south, east, west, or northeast, visitors are sure to be greeted with breathtaking views, diverse wildlife, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. With so much to see and experience, it’s no wonder why Yellowstone National Park remains one of the most popular and beloved destinations in the United States.

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