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 Utah Travel Center National ParksYellowstone • Park Info


Established: In 1872, legislation was passed making Yellowstone the world's first national park.

Land Area: 2.2 million acres, 80% forest, 15% meadow, 5% water

Lowest & Highest Elevations: 5,282 feet at Reese Creek to 11,358 feet at Eagle Peak summit

Plant and Animal Species: 12 tree, over 80 wildflower, 58 mammal and 290 bird species

Sights: Geysers, hot springs, 110 waterfalls of 15 foot drop or greater

Hiking Trails: More than 1,210 miles of marked hiking trails

Visitation. Highest in June, July, August

Location. Located primarily in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, with portions extending into southwestern Montana and southeastern Idaho
Address
Yellowstone National Park
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168
Telephone
(307) 344-7381; TDD (307) 344-2386

Park Entrances. There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
North Entrance: U.S. Hwy 89 from I-90 at Livingston, Montana
Northeast Entrance: US Hwy 212 from I-90 at Billings, Montana or Hwy 296 from Cody, Wyoming
West Entrance: US Hwy 191 from Bozeman, Montana or US Hwy 20 from Idaho Falls, Idaho
East Entrance: US Hwy 16 from Cody, Wyoming South Entrance: US Hwy 89 from Jackson, Wyoming

Park Headquarters. NPS Park headquarters are located in the historic site of Fort Yellowstone in Mammoth Hot Springs. From 1886 to 1916 the US Army was in charge of protecting the park from vandals, poachers, robbers and any lawlessness which threatened the preserve or its visitors. The old army building now houses the park's administration offices.

Entrance Fees. Entrance to the park costs $20 per vehicle, $10 per hiker, bicyclist or snowcoach passenger, and $15 per motorcyclist or snowmobiler over the age of 16 and under 62.
Persons aged 16 and under are admitted free.
Entrance permits are good for seven consecutive days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
Entrance fees are waived with an annual Yellowstone Passport or Golden Eagle, Golden Age or Golden Access Passport. You can obtain these passes at any national park, monument or recreation area, including any Yellowstone Park entrance.
Yellowstone Passport: $40 annually
Golden Eagle Passport: $50 annually for all national parks
Golden Age Passport: $10 one time charge for US citizens or residents age 62 or older
Golden Access Passport: Free for disabled US citizens or residents

Reservations and Permits. Campground / Lodging / Restaurants - Reservations are strongly recommended for all concession operated facilities. Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible. For reservation information, call (307) 344-7311.

Backcountry Camping - Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a permit is required for all overnight stays.

Operating Hours.
Summer
Season runs from mid-April to late-October. Once a road/entrance opens, it is open 24 hours. (Exceptions: road construction and weather-caused restrictions.) For current road conditions and construction, contact the NPs at 307-344-7311.
Winter
Season runs from mid-December to mid-March. The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, MT to the Northeast Entrance and Cooke City, MT is open to wheeled vehicle use year round.
Park interior roads close to the public at 8:00 AM on Monday after the first Sunday of November; open to tracked, over the snow vehicles in mid-December through mid-March, and begin to reopen for wheeled vehicles in mid-April.
For current road conditions and construction, contact the NPs at 307-344-7311.

Transportation.
To Park:
Commercial airlines serve the following airports near Yellowstone National Park all year: Cody and Jackson, WY; Bozeman and Billings, MT, and Idaho Falls, ID. The West Yellowstone, MT airport is serviced from June to early September. Bus service from Bozeman, MT to West Yellowstone, MT via Highway 191 is available all year. Bus service directly from Idaho to West Yellowstone is limited to the summer months. Commercial transportation from Bozeman, MT to Gardiner, MT is available during the winter and summer seasons. Commercial transportation to the park from Cody and Jackson, WY is available during the summer season.

In Park: Xanterra Parks & Resorts provides bus tours within the park during the summer season. The Lower Loop Tour departs from locations in the southern part of the Park only. The Upper Loop Tour departs from Lake Hotel, Fishing Bridge RV Park, and Canyon Lodge to tour the northern section of the park only. The Grand Loop Tour departs from Gardiner, MT and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to tour the entire park in one day. During the winter season, they provide several snowcoach tours from various locations. Please call (307) 344-7311 for information or reservations.

Climate
Spring Weather in Yellowstone.
Cold and snow linger into April and May, although temperatures gradually climb. Average daytime readings fall in the 40s to 50s (5-15C), reaching the 60s and 70s (15-25C) by late May and June. Overnight temperatures fall below freezing and may plunge near zero (-20C). These are statistical averages; actual conditions can be vastly different from long-term "norms." At any time of year, be prepared for sudden changes; unpredictability, more than anything else, characterizes Yellowstone's weather. Storms in late May and early June may result in significant accumulations of snow, to a foot of snow in 24 hours is not uncommon. We recommend that you bring a warm jacket and rain gear. Spring visitors should be prepared for any type of weather. Call ahead for current weather and road information since sudden storms may result in cold temperatures, snow and/or temporary road closures. Yellowstone's weather is always unpredictable. Carry extra clothing when hiking. Good walking shoes and layers of clothing are recommended throughout the year.

Summer Weather in Yellowstone. Average maximum summer temperatures are usually in the 70s (25C) and occasionally in the 80s (30C) in the lower elevations. Nights are cool and temperatures may drop into the 30s and 40s (0-10C). Depending on the elevation, temperatures may even fall into the 20s (-5C) with a light freeze. June can be cool and rainy; July and August tend to be somewhat drier, although afternoon thundershowers and lightning storms are common. During lightning storms get off water or beaches and stay away from ridges, exposed places, and isolated trees. At any time of year, be prepared for sudden changes; unpredictability, more than anything else, characterizes Yellowstone's weather. We recommend that you bring a warm jacket and rain gear even in the summer. If you plan to visit Yellowstone during spring or fall, call ahead for current weather and road information since sudden storms may result in cold temperatures, snow and/or temporary road closures. In summer, stop at visitor centers or ranger stations for weather forecasts. Always carry extra clothing when hiking. Good walking shoes and layers of clothing are recommended throughout the year.

Fall Weather in Yellowstone. Fall weather can be pleasant, although temperatures average 10 to 20 degrees lower than summer readings--highs in the 40s to 60s (5-20C). Overnight temperatures can fall into the teens and single digits (-10 to -20C). Snowstorms increase in frequency and intensity as the weeks go by. At any time of year be prepared for sudden changes; unpredictability, more than anything else, characterizes Yellowstone's weather. Sudden storms can cause a drop in temperature or result in precipitation. Always carry extra clothing when hiking. Good walking shoes and layers of clothing are recommended throughout the year. If you plan to visit Yellowstone during spring or fall, call ahead for current weather and road information since sudden storms may result in cold temperatures, snow and/or temporary road closures.

Winter Weather in Yellowstone. Winter temperatures often hover near zero (-20C) throughout the day but may reach highs in the 20s (-5 C). Subzero overnight temperatures are common. Occasionally, warm "chinook" winds will push daytime temperatures into the 40s (5-10C), causing significant melting of snowpack--especially at lower elevations. Yellowstone also typically experiences periods of bitterly cold weather. The lowest temperature recorded in Yellowstone was -66F (-54C) near West Yellowstone on February 9, 1933. Annual snowfall averages near 150 inches (380cm) in most of the park. At higher elevations, 200-400 inches (5-10m) of snowfall have been recorded. At any time of year, be prepared for sudden changes; unpredictability, more than anything else, characterizes Yellowstone's weather. Snowmobilers and skiers should always check on temperatures and wind chill forecasts; subzero weather can make travel dangerous even with proper gear. Always carry extra clothing when hiking, skiing, or snowmobiling. Take advantage of the warming huts (heated shelters) provided in some park areas. Good walking shoes and layers of clothing are recommended throughout the year, but in the winter you'll also need warm boots. Cross-country skis or snowshoes are a 'must' in winter if you plan to go beyond the main roads and boardwalks.

Safety Tips

  • Prevent blisters by wearing comfortable boots or shoes which fit the terrain.
  • Some tree are weak at the base due to the 1988 fire, so heed ranger's warnings.
  • Prevent hypothermia by wearing layers. If you find yourself shivering and feel disoriented, seek shelter and drink warm liquids. Hypothermia can develop and is a serious condition requiring medical attention.
  • If you see a storm developing, reduce the risk of lightning strike by retreating to a lower location and avoid water, ridges, isolated trees and boulders. If you feel an electrical charge building up, kneel down, lean forward and place your hands on your knees. DO NOT seek refuge under rock overhangs.
  • All thermal pools are near or above boiling temperature. DO NOT venture off marked trails or boardwalks. Be particularly vigilant watching your children.
  • To lessen the possibility of being bitten by a tick, stay on the trails and avoid grassy, brushy areas. Do a tick check to ensure that no ticks have attached themselves to you. Also, when possible, wear long pants and long sleeves shirts. No ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in Yellowstone to date, but there have been cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick.

Visitor Centers and Exhibits. The Visitor Centers are the hub for park information and are located near most lodging complexes. Ranger stations are located at all developed areas of the park. Most have shortened or closed hours between late August and Memorial Day.

  • Albright Visitor Center, Mammoth Hot Springs - open year round
  • Old Faithful Visitor Center - open mid-April to late October and Mid-December to mid-March
  • Canyon Visitor Center - open mid-May through September
  • Fishing Bridge Visitor Center - open mid-May through September
  • Grant Village Visitor Center - open mid-May through September
  • Norris Geyser Basin Museum - open mid-May through September
  • Norris Geyser Basin Bookstore - open mid-May through September
  • Museum of the National Park Ranger, Norris - open mid-May through September Madison Information Station - open early June through October
  • West Thumb Information Station - open early June through Labor Day

    Exhibits can be viewed during the summer season in Yellowstone. Only the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs is open year round.
  • Albright Visitor Center, Mammoth Hot Springs
    Exhibits on the park's natural and human history can be found in this historic structure.
  • Canyon Visitor Center
    The bison-related exhibits featured here were produced in partnership with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.
  • Fishing Bridge Visitor Center
    Exhibits on Yellowstone's birds and other wildlife will help you identify some of the animals you may see in and around Yellowstone Lake.
  • Lake Hotel
    Photographs on display in the lobby document the history of transportation in Yellowstone.
  • Grant Village Visitor Center
    Yellowstone and Fire exhibit and film tell how fires have been a part of Yellowstone's history for thousands of years.
  • Norris Geyser Basin Museum
    This location hosts exhibits on the geothermal features of Yellowstone.
  • Museum of the National Park Ranger
    Norris Exhibits at this historic soldier station trace the development of the park ranger profession.

    SEE: Visitor Centers

Trails and Roads. Yellowstone has seven self-guiding trails, each with its own 25 cent trail guide which will help you explore the park's features on foot. The guides are sold in visitor centers and are available at trailheads. Thermal basins lack shade in most places and can be very hot on sunny summer days; take along a hat and sunglasses if you plan to walk the trails in these areas. Stay on trails and boardwalks; watch your step in thermal basins and along steep drop-offs.
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Surreal in appearance, travertine terraces such as these are not found anywhere else in the park. As an early visitor described them: ". . .The hot springs fall over a lofty hill of snowy whiteness, resembling cascades." A walking trail through the Lower Terraces and a one-way drive through the Upper Terraces offer views of these fascinating formations.
• Upper Geyser Basin. The world's greatest collection of geysers is located here, including Old Faithful Geyser. Several miles of trail begin at the Old Faithful Visitor Center; stop in for orientation and geyser eruption information. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone The Canyon and the Upper and Lower Falls can be seen from overlooks along the rim drives.
• The North Rim Drive takes you to Inspiration, Grandview, and Lookout Points. A spur road leads to an overlook at the brink of the Upper Falls. The South Rim Drive leads to Uncle Tom's Trail and Artist Point. Trails also wind along both rims.
• Norris Geyser Basin. Explore the hottest, most active thermal basin in the park. Trails start at the museum and lead to colorful hot springs and a number of active geysers.
• Fountain Paint Pot. Located eight miles north of Old Faithful on the road to Madison Junction. Active, ever-changing mud pots make this area unique, as does the variety of thermal activity and color.
• Mud Volcano. Located approximately six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction (approximately 10 miles south of Canyon Junction). Intriguing and explosive mudpots such as the Mud Volcano and the Dragon's Mouth have captured the imagination of park visitors through the years.
• West Thumb Geyser Basin. Situated on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, boiling springs meet icy lake water. View West Thumb Bay, a volcanic explosion crater (or caldera).

Lodging and Camping Facilities. Lodging in Yellowstone National Park is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Please call (307) 344-7311 for more reservation information about accommodations at the following locations:

  • Old Faithful Inn - open from early May to mid-October
  • Old Faithful Lodge Cabins - open from mid-May to mid-September
  • Old Faithful Snowlodge - open from mid-May to early October and from mid-December to mid-March
  • Lake Yellowstone Hotel - open from mid-May to the end of September
  • Lake Lodge Cabins - open from mid-June to mid-September
  • Grant Village - open from mid-May to mid-September
  • Canyon Village Lodge and Cabins - open from early June to the end of August
  • Roosevelt Lodge Cabins - open from early June to the end of August
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins - open from mid-May to early October and from mid-December to early March
    Lodging accommodations range from rustic cabins to luxury suites.
Campgrounds in Yellowstone. Five of Yellowstone's campgrounds are operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Only these five campgrounds accept reservations. Please call (307) 344-7311 for more reservation information about camping at the following locations:
  • Bridge Bay Campground - open from mid-May to mid-September - $15.00
  • Canyon Campground - open from early June to early September - $15.00
  • Grant Village Campground - open from mid-June to early October - $15.00
  • Madison Campground - open from early May to late October - $15.00
  • Fishing Bridge RV Park - open from mid-May to mid-September - $27.00

Food and Supplies. Food service and groceries available in the park and in surrounding communities.

Accessibility. The park's major sites can be viewed by automobile. Some trails and facilities are wheelchair accessible.

Basic Visit Recommendations. Check at Visitor Centers for current information on road closures, weather forecasts, ranger-led activities, park regulations, and permits. Visitors should keep in mind that, due to high levels of visitation, travel through the park can be slow, especially during July and August. Make Lodging and Camping reservations as early as possible. Yellowstone is large and its major scenic attractions are widely dispersed. You will get more from your visit by limiting your travels to one or two areas if you have one day or less to spend in Yellowstone. Allow at least two days or more if you wish to see most major park attractions.

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