The complete guide to Yellowstone National Park

Written by MEGHAN O'DEA

Sitting at the confluence of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Snake River Plain, Yellowstone is the world's first-ever national park.

There's no bad time to visit Yellowstone National Park – it's open about ten months of the year, and is spectacular in all seasons.

From strolling the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalk to see Old Faithful cross-country skiing to Lone Star Geyser, there's a little something for everyone. Here's what you need to know before going.

When to Visit

The most popular months to visit are July and August. Winter is also a great time, with prime opportunities for viewing wildlife like bison, elk, foxes, and even wolves.

Yellowstone generally closes between March through April each year for maintenance. The park also shuts down in September and October to winterize its infrastructure.

Getting there by air

Fly into nearby airports including Jackson, Wyoming; Bozeman, Montana or Idaho Falls. Cody, Wyoming and Billings, Montana are also options. In peak season, fly directly into West Yellowstone, Montana.

Getting there by road

Highways 20, 191, 89, 212, and 14/16 all connect to or border Yellowstone National Park. Make a road trip of reaching Yellowstone from Jackson by driving north through Grand Teton National Park.

Where to Stay

In summertime, you'll have your pick of accommodations from lodges to cabins to campgrounds and even yurts, with a wide range to choose from. Book in advance, especially in peak season.

In the winter months, Yellowstone operates limited facilities including the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. These are open from mid-December to the first of March.

Yellowstone Wildlife

Bison are everywhere but there are many more animals to view in Yellowstone including grey wolves, elk, moose, mountain goats, bears, lynx, coyotes, mule deer, foxes, otters, and wolverines.

One of the best ways to see wildlife is to visit in the winter and take a tour on one of Yellowstone's snow coaches with the park's knowledgeable, close-knit team of guides.

Hiking and Backpacking

There's plenty in Yellowstone to please outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels – just remember to pick up a backcountry camping permit if you'll be heading out on overnight.

Morning Glory Pool sits not from the Upper Geyser Basin and is well worth adding a little extra perambulation. The colors are even more brilliant in person than in photos.

Lone Star Geyser can be reached by hike, mountain bike or cross-country ski tracks – an outing which follows a picturesque section of the Firehole River to an impressive 45-foot high gusher.

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