Visiting the Yellowstone National Park for the First Time

 A plume of hot magma under the Earth’s crust, combined with Yellowstone’s geologic diversity, creates a dynamic array of geothermal features at Yellowstone National Park, such as the famous Old Faithful and the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Within the park are about one-half of all the world’s known thermal features, including geysers and hot springs, as well as bubbling mud pots and steaming vents, known as fumaroles.


Wildlife at Yellowstone National Park


Wolves were reintroduced into the park in 1995 and since then have developed a cult following second only to the park’s grizzly and black bears, which create “bear jams” during the heavy summer traffic.


The Northern Range of the park has been aptly called the American Serengeti, and it’s no wonder with the abundance of bighorn sheep, bison, pronghorn, deer, elk, and moose seen there. And don’t forget the coyotes, foxes, bobcats, lynx, and mountain lions. Yellowstone has the highest concentration of mammals in any state but Alaska, according to the park service.


Learning Programs and Guide Services


The vast majority of park visitors just drive through the park to enjoy roadside wildlife and top features, including the Yellowstone River Waterfall. But Yellowstone takes on a whole new dimension via guided learning programs. Park rangers give interpretive nature and history lectures throughout the park. And seasonal Lodge and Learning programs are available from the Yellowstone Association Institute.


Other Activities include hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, boating, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and camping.


Attractions Nearby Yellowstone National Park


Majestic Grand Teton National Park and the John D Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway border Yellowstone’s southern entrance. Several hours to the east of Yellowstone is Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area, straddling Wyoming and Montana.


Visitors may also want to soak in the hot spring-fed thermal pools at Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Montana. The resort has an excellent restaurant, and day guests are welcomed to use the mineral-rich open-air pools for a small fee.


Yellowstone National Park Admission and Operating Hours


Basic admission is about $25 per vehicle for a 7-day visitor pass to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.


Although Yellowstone is open every day of the year, operating hours for visitor centers vary by season, and not all roads are open year-round. Park guides suggest you plan your visit carefully.


Allow several days to explore the 2.2 million-acre park, which is both a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.


Directions and Lodging Info for Yellowstone National Park


The rectangular-shaped park is in the northeast corner of Wyoming, just overlapping Montana and Idaho, and can be approached from multiple directions.


North Entrance: Highway 89 South past Gardiner, Montana, to the entrance.

West Entrance: Highway 191 South past West Yellowstone, Montana, to the entrance.

South Entrance: Highway 89 North through Grand Teton NP to the entrance.

East Entrance: From Cody, Wyoming, Highway 20 West to the entrance.

Northeast Entrance: Highway 212 South past Silver Gate, Montana, to the entrance.


Lodging is available in the park through Yellowstone National Park Lodges or in towns near the park’s five entrances.


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