Comparing Yellowstone’s Four Entrances

Yellowstone National Park, one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, boasts four entrances that provide access to this stunning natural wonder. Each entrance offers unique features and attractions that make it special. In this article, we will compare Yellowstone’s four entrances and assist you in deciding which entrance to choose based on your interests and travel plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Yellowstone National Park has four entrances: North, East, South, and West.
  • Each entrance has its own attractions and highlights.
  • Understanding the differences and best times to visit each entrance can help you plan your Yellowstone adventure more effectively.
  • The North Entrance is best for those interested in geothermal features and wildlife.
  • The East Entrance offers breathtaking views and access to Yellowstone Lake.

North Entrance

The North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is situated near the charming town of Gardiner, Montana. This entrance offers easy access to some of the most iconic sites in America’s first National Park.

The highlight of the North Entrance is the stunning Mammoth Hot Springs, a geothermal wonder that boasts a series of multi-colored terraces shaped by hot springs. The springs’ vibrant hues come from thermophiles – heat-loving microorganisms that thrive in hot water.

Another popular attraction near the North Entrance is Lamar Valley, known as “America’s Serengeti,” which provides a natural habitat for a vast array of wildlife. Visitors can spot wolves, elk, bison, bears, and coyotes, among others. Additionally, be sure to pass through the iconic Roosevelt Arch spanning the park’s North Entrance, which was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt himself.

East Entrance

The East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is a popular starting point for visitors coming from the town of Cody, Wyoming. It offers breathtaking views of the Absaroka Mountains and access to the iconic Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest lake in the park and is teeming with trout, salmon, and other fish. The East Entrance is open year-round, but snow and ice can make it difficult to visit during the winter months.

One of the main attractions of the East Entrance is Fishing Bridge, which spans the Yellowstone River and is famous for its excellent fishing opportunities. Visitors can also explore Pelican Valley, which is home to a variety of wildlife such as elk, bison, grizzly bears, and wolves. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a rare trumpeter swan.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is a must-visit destination for anyone entering the park through the East Entrance. Known for its stunning beauty, the lake is surrounded by pristine forests and mountains and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and hiking. Be sure to take a walk along the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which features a stunning collection of geothermal pools and geysers.

Tip: The East Entrance is the closest to the park’s Grand Canyon, which is famous for its stunning views and dramatic waterfalls. Be sure to visit this area and take a hike on the North or South Rim trails.

The East Entrance is also home to the historic Lake Lodge, which offers comfortable accommodations and stunning views of Yellowstone Lake. You can also visit the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the park’s history, ecology, and wildlife.

Overall, the East Entrance is an excellent starting point for your Yellowstone adventure. Whether you’re interested in fishing, wildlife watching, or simply admiring the park’s natural beauty, the East Entrance has something for everyone.

South Entrance

The South Entrance is a favorite among Yellowstone visitors, as it provides easy access to both the park and the nearby Grand Teton National Park. Located near the charming town of Jackson, Wyoming, this entrance offers a unique blend of stunning natural beauty and modern amenities.

One of the must-see attractions at the South Entrance is the iconic Old Faithful geyser, which can be accessed via the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Visitors can also explore the thermal wonders of the Upper Geyser Basin, which is home to some of the park’s most picturesque geysers and hot springs.

Beyond the geothermal features, the South Entrance is also home to the gorgeous Snake River, which offers abundant opportunities for fly fishing, rafting, and kayaking. And for those seeking a taste of history, the entrance is also home to the historic Jackson Lake Lodge and the elegant Jenny Lake Lodge.

If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, be sure to consider the South Entrance as a starting point. With its breathtaking scenery, thrilling activities, and easy access to Grand Teton National Park, it’s no wonder why so many visitors choose this entrance as their gateway to Yellowstone.

West Entrance: Exploring Yellowstone’s Gateway from West Yellowstone, Montana

The West Entrance, located in the charming town of West Yellowstone, Montana, is one of the most popular entry points to Yellowstone National Park. With plenty of lodging, dining, and recreational opportunities, the town is an ideal base for exploring the park.

The West Entrance offers access to some of the most captivating geothermal features in the park, including the world-renowned Norris Geyser Basin. Visitors can witness the impressive eruptions of Steamboat Geyser, the tallest active geyser in the world. The mesmerizing colors of Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the park, are also nearby.

For those interested in wildlife, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is a must-visit attraction. The center offers visitors an opportunity to learn about grizzly bears, wolves, and other wildlife that call Yellowstone home.

Attractions Best Times to Visit
Norris Geyser Basin Summer and Fall
Old Faithful Spring, Summer, and Fall
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center Year-round

Aside from the geothermal wonders and wildlife viewing opportunities, the West Entrance offers access to the Yellowstone Historic Center. The museum provides an insight into the area’s rich history, including the role of the Union Pacific Railroad in the development of West Yellowstone.

Visitors to the West Entrance during the winter months can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing through the park. The West Entrance is the only park entrance open to snowmobiles during the winter season, making it an ideal entry point for winter enthusiasts.

Whether you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park for the first time or returning for another adventure, the West Entrance offers a beautiful and convenient gateway to the park.

  • Location: West Yellowstone, Montana
  • Attractions: Norris Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, Yellowstone Historic Center
  • Best Times to Visit: Summer and Fall for geothermal features, year-round for wildlife, winter for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing


Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, and with four unique entrances to choose from, visitors are spoilt for choice. Each entrance has its own attractions, accessibility and best times to visit, providing visitors with a varied and unique experience.

By comparing the North, East, South and West entrances, visitors can choose the best entrance that meets their needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for stunning scenic views, incredible geothermal wonders, or an up-close encounter with wildlife, there’s something for everyone in Yellowstone National Park.

So, whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, Yellowstone’s four entrances offer an incredible experience that should not be missed. Book your trip today, and get ready to be awed by the natural beauty of this iconic national park.