Where is Yellowstone National Park?
Even though it's one of the most popular national parks in the United States, Yellowstone National Park is kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Located mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone's borders extend into parts of Montana and Idaho as well, but there are no large cities or major airports very close to the park. That can make planning a Yellowstone vacation a little tricky, but the extra work is well worth it. The park is home to natural features unlike anything else in the country. So where is Yellowstone National Park, and what's the best way to get there? We'll help you plan your visit.
There are several small airports serving the Yellowstone National Park area. The only one that's actually in the park is the West Yellowstone (WYS) airport, open June through September with flights from Salt Lake City on Skywest. Other options are a little farther away, but may be cheaper or more convenient to your lodging. There are airports about an hour away from the park in Cody, WY (YRA) and Jackson Hole, WY (JAC), and still farther out, you can try to get a better deal by flying into Billings, MT (BIL), Bozeman, MT (BZN) or Idaho Falls, ID (IDA).
The vast majority of Yellowstone National Park (about 96% of it) is located in northwest Wyoming, with the northern and western borders of the park crossing into Montana and Idaho. The entire park spans an area of 3468 square miles, so you're going to need a car if you want to see much of it. Some national parks can be seen in a day, but to take in all that Yellowstone has to offer, you'll want to spend at least several days visiting. You can arrange to stay at one of the lodges or campgrounds inside the park, or if you want more modern amenities, you should try a hotel outside the park.
The lodges inside Yellowstone National Park are not much like hotels – you won't have wi-fi or cable television. If you can't imagine a vacation without your computer (we totally understand), there are lots of hotels within a short drive of the park. Jackson, Wyoming has a huge selection of hotels and resorts for all budgets. From Jackson, the drive to the south entrance of Yellowstone is about an hour. It's a very scenic route that will take you past Grand Teton National Park, just five miles to the north of Jackson. This is a great place to stay if you want to tour both parks on your trip – and you absolutely should!
Yellowstone National Park is open every day of the year, but some roads will be closed during the winter. Interior park roads are only open to over-snow vehicles in the winter months, so if you're planning a trip for the snowy season, book a snowmobile tour for a fun way to see the park. Even in the summer, temperatures and weather can be unpredictable. Normal highs are in the 70s during the day, but it can get much colder at night, especially in the higher elevations, and thunderstorms are common. Be sure you bring gear to keep you warm and dry, especially if you plan to camp.
Remember that Yellowstone National Park is too large to just park your car and walk around. Roads throughout the park provide easy access to all the main attractions, like Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake and other favorites, but these attractions are quite spread out in the park. You can almost make a road trip out of your visit just inside the park. If you'd rather not man the map on your vacation, you can opt instead for a Yellowstone Tour.
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