Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Since its designation as a national park in 1872, Yellowstone National Park has been a cherished part of the region’s rich tapestry. It’s easy to see why. The very definition of “unspoiled,” Yellowstone has served for generations as a sort of living museum, its natural splendors giving visitors an up-close-and-personal glimpse of what the continent was like in the days before recorded history. With 2.2 Million acres of sprawling wilderness to explore, Yellowstone stands as one of North America’s greatest assets — and it’s open year-round for visitors to enjoy. The park’s vast network of trails will take hikers to hundreds of secluded places where vehicles are prohibited. You’re bound to see wildlife wherever you go. Yellowstone’s legendary wildlife includes grizzly and black bears, gray wolves, buffalo, elk, pronghorn antelope, trumpeter swans, eagles and much more. The iconic spots — Old Faithful, Lower Falls, Yellowstone Lake — will be familiar from paintings and photographs, but seeing them in person is a humbling, enthralling experience. They’re not just as good as you’ve heard — they’re better.
You can access the park from five entrances: two entrances from Wyoming and three from Montana.
The east entrance is on highway 20 (also highways 14 and 16 at this point). Yellowstone Regional Airport is located about 50 miles away in Cody and has service from Salt Lake City and Denver. Vehicles can be rented in Cody as well.
The south entrance is on highway 89 (also 191 and 287 at this point). This entrance is in Grand Teton National Park and is about 60 miles from Jackson. Jackson Hole Airport is located inside Grand Teton National Park and has service from several cities including Salt Lake City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver. Vehicles can be rented in Jackson.
The Montana community West Yellowstone serves as the western entrance to the park. Though comparatively quite during the winter, West Yellowstone booms in the spring when summer residents return and tourists come to visit Yellowstone National Park.
Gardiner is located in southwest Montana, at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Founded in 1880, Gardiner is a centre of activity for visitors to the region, serving as the original and only year round entrance to the Park. Year-round activities include hiking, fly-fishing, snowmobiling, whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing, dog sledding and horseback riding. The town was established in 1880 and began thriving as the park’s northern entrance. In 1903, on April 24, Theodore Roosevelt attended the ceremony to mark the placement of the cornerstone of the Roosevelt Arch, which was designed to act as the gate to the park’s northern entrance. Constructed of basalt, it stands 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide and is inscribed “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of All People”, a line from the congressional act that created the park.
Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana sits at the northeast entrance to the park. Cooke City is an alpine village with snow much of the year. It is perhaps most famous for the road that connects Cooke City with Red Lodge. Called “the most scenic drive in America”, the Beartooth Pass on U.S. Highway 212 has dramatic switchbacks traversing the spectacular Beartooth Range of south-central Montana. Silver Gate is located on the Montana/Wyoming border. Since 1932, Silver Gate has served as the gate to the park.
Lodging and Accommodations
In the summer, visitors may select from eight locations within park boundaries with hotels and/or cabins including Yellowstone’s Canyon Lodge & Cabins, Grant Village, Lake Lodge Cabins, Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins, Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge Cabins, and Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins. Amenities and dining options vary at each location. All park lodging is nonsmoking and rooms do not have televisions, radios, air conditioning or internet. Numerous sites are also available for tent and RV camping. The National Park Service provides resources, including videos and a trip planner, for both winter and summer backcountry excursions.
Although the wildlife in Yellowstone National Park may seem tame, important safety rules should be followed at all times while in the park and will not diminish your enjoyment of the animals. Obey rangers and law enforcement officials immediately if they make a request. Remember to stay hydrated and to pace yourself while enjoying your high altitude nature experience.
What to wear
Weather in the region is unpredictable. During both the summer and winter seasons, be sure to bring plenty of layers so you can add and remove clothing as your own comfort dictates. Even at the height of summer, temperatures can drop to below freezing at night. Be sure to bring a warm, waterproof jacket and a hat. Plenty of socks to keep your feet warm and dry are also a good idea.
Most roads into the park are closed in November and open again in late March or April, as conditions allow. Visitors can travel through the park in snow coaches or on snowmobiles with an authorized guide. Visitors may cross country ski or snowshoe in the park on miles of groomed trails, on any unplowed roads and in the backcountry. A backcountry use permit is required for all overnight trips. Contact a park ranger at a visitor center or ranger station before beginning a trip. Warming huts are available throughout the park. As the authorized concessioner in Yellowstone National Park, Xanterra Parks & Resorts will supply much of your food, lodging and entertainment options. Visit their website for more information.
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