A Family Affair: Vacationing in Yellowstone National Park

Getting to and around Yellowstone
  |  Gorp.com
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, winter
Mammoth Hot Springs in the winter, Yellowstone National Park (Hemera/Thinkstock)

Getting Here
You’ll most likely find that the best flight deals are to Salt Lake City International Airport, where you can rent a car and make the half-day scenic drive to Yellowstone. Smaller airports include Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, and Bozeman and Billings, Montana, but flights are less frequent and often more expensive. There is no train service to the park.

The entrance fee is $25 per vehicle ($12 per person if entering on bike or hoofing it) for a seven-day pass for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. A $50 annual pass is available for frequent visitors to Yellowstone/Grand Teton, or spring for an $80 America the Beautiful pass, which covers admission/amenity fees for all national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and grasslands.

Getting Around
Yellowstone is big—"bigger than two eastern seaboard states" big. It’s possible to drive through Yellowstone in a day and catch a couple of quick sights, but this is a place to savor. There are five entrances to the park, so it’s a good idea to know your itinerary and choose the best access point based on where you’re staying. It’s easiest to plan activities and lodging by region and/or highway junction. All attractions, lodging, and trailheads are referenced in terms of these main park regions/junctions: Canyon Village, Grant Village/West Thumb, Madison/West Yellowstone, Lake Village/Fishing Bridge, Old Faithful, and Mammoth/Norris.

Yellowstone weather can be fickle, especially when it isn’t summer. Check the National Park Service website for road closures, construction updates, and available facilities before visiting—no matter the time of year. Most entrances are closed during winter, with private snow-ready vehicles transporting visitors to the handful of areas that remain open during winter in the park interior. Check the NPS website for winter road and lodging information, which changes annually.

Published: 26 Mar 2012 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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