© Montana Office of Tourism 

YELLOWSTONE

NATIONAL PARK

There are many reasons why Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the U.S., is also one of the most popular. It’s full of wildlife, geysers, colorful hot pots, waterfalls and geologic wonders that exist nowhere else in the world. And it just happens to be in our back yard.

Located less than an hour from the West Entrance, many people choose Big Sky, Montana as their base camp for Yellowstone National Park excursions, enjoying the high quality amenities that Big Sky has to offer, along with the spectacularly unforgettable scenery and experiences of time spent in the park.

SEASONS

Summer in Yellowstone features lush, green landscapes, fast-moving rivers and abundant wildlife with deer, elk, bison, wolves and bears grazing with many birds flying overhead. And the geysers and thermal features are definitely the park’s “hot spot,” home to more geysers and hot springs than anywhere else in the world.

In the winter, the landscape shifts as steam from the hot pots rise from sparkling blankets of snow, and the park’s diverse creatures meander through the landscape. With fewer crowds, the serene views can be experienced from the warm comforts of a snowcoach, from the back of a snowmobile, or on cross country skis.

 

GETTING

THERE

Although the boundary of Yellowstone National Park is only 19 miles from Big Sky, Montana, the official West Entrance of the park is in West Yellowstone, Montana, just 48 miles south.

DIRECTIONS

From Big Sky, head south on Highway 191 and travel the scenic road along the Gallatin River to the quaint town of West Yellowstone.

GETTING

AROUND

SUMMER

By Car: In the summer months, there are driving loops that travel through different areas of the park, including a drive to Old Faithful, just 30 miles from the West Entrance. Along the way, visitors can stop at designated turnouts and explore park highlights.

Bus Tours: Yellowstone tours by bus can be a great way to leave the driving to someone else, so visitors are free to take in the awe-inspiring natural wonders and learn about them along the way.

By Bike: Biking is allowed on the paved roads through the park and on designated routes, but they are prohibited on trails. Rentals are available at Old Faithful for cruising around that area, and in the spring some of the park roads are open to bikes before they open to cars.

WINTER

By Car: Most roads through the park are closed to car traffic during the winter season, typically from early November through late April. The only roads that remain open and plowed are between the North Entrance and Cooke City, Montana and from Mammoth Hot Springs to the parking area at the Upper Terraces.

Snowcoach: Snowcoach tours offer comfortable and scenic access to park highlights, with daily trips from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and surrounding geyser basins, regular trips to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and ski shuttles for cross-country ski access into different locations.

Snowmobile: Guided snowmobile tours head out from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and surrounding park highlights for a snowy, motorized adventure.

PARK

ACTIVITIES

SUMMER

Camping -

There are a variety of front-country campgrounds that are perfect for car-accessible camping throughout the park. Due to crowds, reservations are recommended. Yellowstone also has an extensive backcountry campsite system and a permit is required for all designated backcountry sites.

Hiking -

With a wide variety of hiking trails, from short and sweet day hikes to overnight backcountry excursions, there are hikes in Yellowstone for every ability.

Fishing -

Yellowstone National Park has world renown fishing opportunities on many of its rivers, streams and lakes, with some areas restricted to fly fishing only. Permits are required for all in-park fishing, with the season typically running Memorial Day through October. Guided fishing boat trips are also available on Yellowstone Lake.

Boating -

A permit is required for all boating vessels in the park. Non-motorized boats are allowed on any lakes in Yellowstone, motorized boats are only permitted on Yellowstone Lake and Lewis Lake, and there is no boating permitted in any of the park's rivers or streams. Boat rentals are available at Yellowstone Lake.

Biking -

Bike rentals are available at Old Faithful, and road biking is allowed on all paved roads and other designated routes, but not on park trails.

WINTER

Snowcoach Tours -

Commercial snowcoach companies travel through designated routes on park roads that are not accessible by car in the winter months. A snowcoach looks like a van that is designed to travel on snow and ice, and they are a relaxing way to sit back and enjoy the spectacular winter scenery in warmth and comfort.

Snowmobiling -

Local and knowledgeable guides can lead you through designated areas of Yellowstone on snowmobile as a fast and fun way to explore the winter landscape and wildlife. There are a number of roads in the park that are open in the winter months for snowmobile tours, typically from December 15 through March 15. All in-park snowmobiling is handled through commercial guide services, no private snowmobiles are permitted.

Education -

There are a number of ranger-led programs throughout Yellowstone National Park in the summer and winter seasons, ranging from star watches to nature lessons, and lectures catering to kids and adults.

Cross-Country Skiing -

Skiing in the park is a truly magical experience and a great way to explore the park and the serene winter landscape. For Nordic enthusiasts, there are five major cross-country ski areas, some that are accessible by car and others that are accessible by backcountry snowcoach shuttles. Ski rentals are also available.

More information on Yellowstone National Park