Established in March 1872, Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the world and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. It was named after the Yellowstone River, the main river in the park. Because of its location above Yellowstone Volcano’s magma chamber, there are approximately 10,000 hot springs and 300 geysers in the area. The Old Faithful Geyser, which regularly spits its water fountain into the air at intervals of 60 to 90 minutes, is particularly popular with tourists. This volcanic activity is caused by the water seeping into the porous lava rock, which is heated by the volcano’s magma chamber and reappears on the earth’s surface in the form of hot springs, geysers or bubbling mud pools.
According to itypemba, Bison and pronghorn can be found in the park’s sanctuary. Mule deer, cougar and lynx are native to the lower regions, and in the hinterland one may see wolves, coyotes and grizzly bears. Since Yellowstone’s inception, a variety of conservation laws have helped once endangered species recover. The absolute ban on hunting has been in place since the creation of wildlife, bird and natural resource protection laws. Since this law came into force in 1894, the population of some endangered species has been secured. The small number of bison increased from around 50 animals in 1902 to 4,900 animals in 2010. About 80% of Yellowstone is covered by coniferous forests, most of which consist of long-needled pines.
The park can be reached via five entrances and offers a wide range of tourist opportunities. Around three million guests visit the region every year. Hikers can choose from around 2,000 km of marked trails, which are distributed throughout the area and lead past natural beauties. Exhibitions at the national park’s visitor centers explain more about the ecosystem. Ranger-led tours also start here.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Located near the northernmost point of Yellowstone National Park are the Mammoth Hot Springs and calcareous terraces, which were discovered in 1871 during a geological expedition. The approximately 70°C hot spring water contains an above-average proportion of lime and minerals, which precipitates at the spring outlet and is deposited in the form of terraces. Algae and bacteria settle in the resulting shallow pools, which change color from white to blue, brown, green, yellow, orange or red depending on the water temperature and direction of flow. The water deposits up to two tons of limestone every day and visitors can view the natural wonder from boardwalks.
The small town outside of Yellowstone National Park is surrounded by forest areas and the imposing Rocky Mountain range. Due to its location, it is an ideal starting point for excursions to the adjacent national park. It is convenient to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center and has easy access to the geysers of southern Yellowstone. Because of the good snow conditions, the area is also a preferred destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The almost 650 km of hiking trails in the area are then used by snowmobilers. With its flair, West Yellowstone offers visitors a relaxing stay in the midst of untouched nature.
Yellowstone National Park information
Location and size
Due to its size of almost 9,000 km², Yellowstone Park is one of the largest national parks in the USA, stretching across the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and being part of the Rocky Mountains.
Via Cody, Jackson (WY), Bozeman, Billings, Idaho Falls or West Yellowstone.
by car, motorbike or bus:
- For the north entrance, take Highway 89 to Gardiner
- The western entrance can be reached on Highway 20 or 191 at West Yellowstone
Hours of Operation and Seasons
Yellowstone is open year-round. Most entrances (except the North and Northeast entrances) close to car traffic in November. During the winter months, the roads in the park are open only to snow vehicles. Once the access roads open for the summer season, they will be open 24 hours a day. The only restrictions are due to road construction or weather conditions.
Most driveways and roads are closed from early November to late April. The road from the north entrance to Cooke City is open year round.
Fees Admission fees are $35 for a private, non-commercial vehicle, $30 for any snowmobile or motorcycle, or $20 for all visitors 16 years and older who visit the park on foot, bike, or ski. This fee allows visits for seven days and is valid for Yellowstone National Park.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.
All visitor centers and information stations are
open during the summer. Most visitor centers are open from 09:00 to 17:00, exact opening times are given in the park newspaper.
Streets in the park Take
a lot of time! Roads in Yellowstone National Park are narrow and speed limits are strict. Roadworks can cause delays and nighttime closures. Road closures may occur at any time due to weather conditions or construction. The obligation to use stop bays to spot wildlife, enjoy the scenery and allow other vehicles to pass. Watch out for animals on the road, especially at night.
Road situation in Yellowstone Park
After the record floods in Yellowstone National Park in June 2022, where roads were washed out and partially destroyed, the park’s Nordschleife is now open again. The Nordschleife reopens 93% of the roads in Yellowstone Park and includes Norris Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction. Visitors can enter the park through West Yellowstone, Montana and through the south entrance in Cody, Wyoming near Jackson, Wyoming.
The north and north east entrance gates in Gardiner and Cooke City will remain closed until further notice, entering the game rich Lamar Valley is not possible as roads in the area have been flooded. Park officials say it could be years before they are fully repaired.
Climate and Weather
Spring & Autumn
Daytime temperatures range from 0°C to 20°C. Snowfall is also possible in spring and autumn. At any time of the year, one must be prepared for sudden changes. One of the hallmarks of Yellowstone Park’s weather is its unpredictability.
Daytime temperatures often reach up to 25°C and occasionally up to 30°C, especially at lower altitudes. Nights are mostly cool and temperatures drop below freezing at higher elevations. In the afternoon there are often thunderstorms.
During the day, temperatures are often in the range of -20° C to -7° C. Sub-zero temperatures at night are not uncommon. The record for particularly low temperatures is -54° C. There is frequent snowfall, on average there can be up to 3 meters of snow, at higher altitudes it can be twice as much.
|Average temperatures in Yellowstone Park in °C|
It is recommended to wear padded clothing, a warm jacket and rain gear, whatever the calendar or weather forecast says.
There are numerous hiking trails of varying length and difficulty throughout the park. 1,500 km of hiking trails, boardwalks and vantage points open up the imposing nature.
Swimming, bathing or wading is discouraged due to the extremely cold water and is prohibited in hydrothermal areas or streams from hydrothermal areas. Where swimming is permitted, you do so at your own risk.
Programs and Activities
During the summer, various programs and activities are offered by the National Parks Service, the Yellowstone Association, and park concessionaires. These include walks, lectures, guided programs, campfire excursions, horseback riding, boat and bus tours.
In winter, snow sleigh rides, snowmobile and ski trips, lectures and guided excursions are offered there.
Dangerous and Unpredictable Animals
It is strongly advised to observe animals from a distance or from the car. It is against the law to approach bears within 100 meters, other animals within 25 meters or to shoo animals from any distance. Feeding animals is also not permitted – this also applies to birds. Feeding animals can make them fastidious and aggressive, causing them to harm humans or be killed.
Boiling Water and Smooth Ice
Boiling water flows in hydrothermal zones and collects in many pools. It is strongly recommended to stay on the footpaths and hiking trails. Take special care in the mornings and in winter: hiking trails and footpaths can be covered with ice. Slipping!
Dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide rise in some hydrothermal areas. VUSA TIP: Leave the place immediately if you feel unwell.
Fauna and Flora
Yellowstone Park has a diverse fauna with bison, elk, elk, elk, mule deer, bear, lynx, puma, wolf, beaver, as well as numerous species of swans, geese and ducks. The less spectacular flora is mainly characterized by conifers and grassy areas.