Two of America’s favorite national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, are nestled in Wyoming’s northwestern corner. Yellowstone’s surreal bubbling hot pots and steaming geothermal features, as well as its breathtaking mountain landscapes, enormous canyons, and rich wildlife, captivate visitors. With its impressively cut peaks and stunning alpine lakes and rivers, Grand Teton awes visitors in its own way.
Visiting both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks on the same trip can seem daunting. Despite the fact that these two parks are technically neighbors, they are both massive and demand at least a day to explore, if not more.
Where is Yellowstone National Park?
Yellowstone is the only national park in the United States that spans three states. The vast majority of the reserve, in fact, lies in Wyoming (more than 95 percent). Travelers can enjoy some magnificent stretches of the Yellowstone River in Montana, while alpine meadows and views of the huge Teton ranges beckon in the park’s little section in Idaho. Yellowstone National Park, in general, straddles the Continental Divide in the center of the Rocky Mountains, around 1,000 kilometers from the West Coast and 1,800 kilometers from the Great Lakes.
How to Get There
Although a minor piece of Yellowstone National Park lies in Montana and Idaho, the majority of the park is in Wyoming’s northern corner. The park has five entrances: north, northeast, east, south, and west, all of which are restricted to vehicles during the winter months save the north gate.
The closest large city to Yellowstone National Park is Bozeman, Montana, which is roughly a 90-minute drive from the park’s north gate. West Yellowstone, Montana lies directly outside the park’s west entrance, and Cooke City, Montana, Gardner, Montana, and Cody, Wyoming are also great places to visit.
Grand Teton National Park is located immediately north of Jackson, Wyoming, and south of Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance. Grand Teton National Park has four different entrances, some of which have limited vehicle access from November to May.
Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
During the summer, the majority of visitors will visit Yellowstone National Park. Between June and August, the weather is often warm, with highs in the 70s and 80s. Although there is plenty of sunshine, the days are frequently interrupted by tremendous electrical storms. Insects might be a problem as well.
Consider visiting the park in the spring or autumn if you want to avoid the crowds. Months like May and September are ideal for catching the best of them. Things grow increasingly unpredictable as we approach closer to winter. In fact, violent rainstorms and blizzards can strike in the blink of an eye thus far up (Yellowstone has an average elevation of 7,800 feet!).
Yellowstone National Park is officially open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The reality, on the other hand, is a little different. Throughout the winter, inclement weather – aka snow – closes nearly all of the interior highways. The big lodges and campgrounds usually wait until the thaw in late April to reopen. They reopen around mid-October, but a few remain open throughout the winter. Thankfully, the official NPS website keeps track of which entrances and exits are open at any given time, allowing you to better plan your next trip to Yellowstone.
Park Entrance Fee
To see the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, you’ll have to pay a small fee. A seven-day permit costs $35 for non-commercial automobiles and $30 for motorcycles. It’s only $20 for the week if you arrive at foot or by bicycle (congratulations!). An annual pass, which costs $70 for the car and three passengers, is also available. What’s the good news? Up to 80% of the entrance fee is invested in Yellowstone’s own important projects.
Best Yellowstone National Park Hiking Trails
Lone Star Geyser Trail
North Rim Trail
Mystic Falls Trail
Trout Lake Trail
Uncle Tom’s Trail
Electric Peak Trail
Mount Washburn Trail
Storm Point Loop Trail
Elephant Back Mountain Trail
Mammoth Hot Springs
Grand Prismatic Spring
Morning Glory Pool
Norris Geyser Basin
Where to stay?
When it comes to lodging in Yellowstone National Park, there are numerous possibilities. The number of days you intend to spend in the park, which park entrances you’ll be using to enter and exit, how far ahead of time you can make bookings, and the level of comfort you desire will all influence where you stay.
Within the park’s limits, hotel-style lodging, rustic cottages, and luxury suites are all offered. Yellowstone National Park’s lodging sells out months in advance. Reservations for the following summer open on May 1st, and it’s not uncommon for them to sell out almost a year in advance. To increase your chances of acquiring a reservation, be flexible with dates and lodgings.
For those who wish to be closer to nature, campgrounds and RV parks are ideal. Only five of Yellowstone’s twelve campgrounds accept bookings in advance. If you don’t have reservations, arrive early in the morning, especially during the busy summer season, for the best chance of getting a place at one of the first-come, first-served campgrounds. If you’re going by RV, keep in mind that many park campgrounds have length restrictions.