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All the Best Ways to Get to Yellowstone National Park

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Faithful. Prismatic. Grand.

These are just some of the words used to describe the many natural wonders found in Yellowstone National Park.

As the very first national park in the United States, Yellowstone is truly the stuff of legends. Not only was it the first National Park in the U.S., but it was actually the first in the entire world. It’s credited for sparking the global preservation and conservation movement, and a visit here is sure to show you just how special this area is.

The park’s 2.2 million acres spread across three states (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) and protect countless biomes and habitats. From jagged mountain peaks to spitting geysers, flowing rivers to vibrant hot springs, and dense forests to raging waterfalls, the Yellowstone landscape is varied and breathtaking. These photogenic sights make Yellowstone one of the most Instagrammed National Parks in the country.

It’s hard to consider any landscapes truly “untouched,” but this large swatch of land is nearly hidden away from the modern world. A trip to the remote area will take some planning, but that’s what we’re here for.

Wanderu is your go-to for booking bus tickets and train tickets (because you obviously love to travel sustainably), and we love to encourage journeys to America’s incomparable National Parks. Traveling between National Parks is actually where our founders came up with the idea for Wanderu! 

But before you can kick off your epic Yellowstone itinerary, you have to make it to the park itself. Which is why we’ve created this handy guide on all the best ways to get to Yellowstone National Park! Empowering travelers is our whole thing, after all. Read on to discover how to get to Yellowstone for your next adventure.

Entrances to Yellowstone National Park

There are five entrances to get to Yellowstone – one on each side of the compass, plus one on the northeastern corner of the park. 

North Entrance

The North Entrance is in Gardiner, Montana and it’s the only entrance that’s open year-round. 

Northeast Entrance

The Northeast Entrance is in Silver Gate, Montana and is open seasonally between late May and mid-October, depending on snowfall. 

East Entrance

The East Entrance is about 53 miles west of the city of Cody, Wyoming and is open seasonally, generally between late May and mid-October.

South Entrance

The South Entrance is about 64 miles north of the city of Jackson (in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Valley). Depending on snowfall, it is open seasonally, generally between late May and mid-October. Pro tip: the Yellowstone South Entrance is likely the entrance you’ll use if traveling from Denver to Yellowstone.

West Entrance

The West Entrance is in West Yellowstone, Montana, and has the closest airport to Yellowstone National Park. This entrance is open seasonally, usually between late April and early November. You’ll likely use this entrance if you’re traveling from Bozeman to Yellowstone.

The South, East, North, and Northeast entrances are only accessible by car. If you plan on using any of these entrances, scroll down to the driving section below for more detailed directions. 

The West Entrance has bus service available, so check out some of the best bus routes to Yellowstone below.

Bus to Yellowstone National Park

One of the cheapest and most convenient ways to go to Yellowstone is by bus. 

Though Yellowstone is massive, there is only one bus station in the park. The West Entrance bus station is conveniently located at the West Yellowstone Visitor Center. This bus stop is near many of West Yellowstone’s amenities like restaurants and hotels, and of course, the Visitor Center is a great place to get more info about the park before you begin your adventure. 

West Yellowstone Visitor Center

30 Yellowstone Ave

West Yellowstone, MT 59758

Just outside the park’s West Entrance

Salt Lake Express provides the most bus trips to Yellowstone National Park, and while they do serve a popular Salt Lake City to Yellowstone bus route, Salt Lake Express also provides service from many other cities, too.

Here are some of the cities with bus routes to Yellowstone National Park:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

Many additional bus routes stop at cities on the outskirts of Yellowstone, including Bozeman and Jackson Hole. Big carriers like FlixBus and Greyhound operate these routes. However, FlixBus and Greyhound do not currently run any routes that drop you off directly at park entrances.

If you take the bus to Bozeman or Jackson Hole, you’ll likely need to rent a car to get into the park from these cities. Or, you could join an organized group tour that departs from Jackson and brings you back at the end of the day.

Train + Bus to Yellowstone National Park

Loco Steve / Flickr

There is no direct train to Yellowstone National Park. The closest Amtrak train stations are in Salt Lake City (335 miles away, or about a 6-hour drive) and Shelby, MT (311 miles away, about a  5-hour drive). 

If you’re traveling to Yellowstone without a car, you’ll need to rely on train and bus travel. Luckily, Wanderu makes it easy to plan your route, no matter where you’re coming from. If you want to experience the joy of train travel in the United States as part of your trip to Yellowstone, we’ve got you.

Adventurous travelers can hop on the train to Salt Lake City and then transfer to a bus to West Yellowstone, or take the train to Shelby, rent a car, and drive the remaining distance to the National Park. It’s about the journey, right?

Train to Salt Lake City + Bus to West Yellowstone

Your first option is a train and bus journey with a transfer in Salt Lake City. 

For the first leg of the journey, hop on the train to SLC. Amtrak operates tons of routes to Salt Lake City from other major cities, including:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

Once you arrive in Salt Lake City, transfer to a bus headed for Yellowstone National Park. Check out the above section for more detailed information on bus routes from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. 

Note that you will book train and bus tickets separately. Book your train to Salt Lake City first, then book your bus ticket from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone.

Train to Shelby + Rent a Car & Drive to Yellowstone

Your other option includes a train journey to Shelby, Montana and driving the remaining few hours to Yellowstone. 

Amtrak offers numerous routes to Shelby, including:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

After taking the train to Shelby, you can pick up your rental car and enjoy the scenic drive to the park. Bonus: driving this route means you can take detours to Glacier National Park and Grand Tetons National Park, both located on the outskirts of Yellowstone.

Driving to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

For true road trippers, driving is always the best option. Because Yellowstone National Park is a significant distance from most big cities, you’ll get plenty of time to soak in the scenery on the open road. 

Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip

The Las Vegas to Yellowstone National Park drive is a long one: about 740 miles and 10.5 hours of active driving time. Luckily, there are tons of epic sites for pit stops and detours along the way, including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Salt Lake City, and more. 

From Las Vegas, hop onto I-15 N and follow it up through Arizona’s northwesternmost tip and all the way through central Utah. You’ll stay on I-15 N for most of your trip, until you reach Idaho Falls, ID, where you’ll hop on US-20 E until you reach the West Yellowstone Entrance.

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone Road Trip

If you’re driving from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, you’ll follow the same route as those coming from Las Vegas, just with fewer miles. Simply hop on I-15 N until you reach Idaho Falls, ID. From there, get on US-20 E until you reach the park’s West Entrance. The drive takes just under five hours.

Alternatively, you can take I-80 out of Salt Lake City and drive up through Wyoming via WY-89N, UT-16 N, UT-30 E, US-30W, and US-89 N. This route is a bit longer (about six hours total), but if you want to explore Yellowstone’s southern region, it’s a great place to start.

Denver to Yellowstone Road Trip

There are two logical routes to drive from Denver to Yellowstone, and each takes about 8.5 hours. Follow the route that leads to your preferred entrance: South Entrance or East Entrance.

Exit Denver via I-25 N and then merge onto US-287 N . Just outside of Grand Teton National Park, you’ll take a slight right onto US-191 N and continue until you reach the Yellowstone South Entrance.

If you prefer to access the park from the East Entrance, you can continue straight on I-25 N until you reach Casper, WY. From there, follow US-20 W and WY-120 W to the town of Cody. Then, follow signs to the National Park along US-14 W.

Bozeman to Yellowstone Drive

The trip from Bozeman, MT to Yellowstone is less of a road trip than a quick commute. Simply head east on I-90, then take Exit 333 toward Yellowstone National Park. Depending on traffic, you should make it to the park within an hour and a half!

Jackson Hole to Yellowstone Drive

The drive from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone is about as straightforward as they come. Just hop on US-191 N and stay on it until you reach the Yellowstone South Entrance. The drive may be short (just 48 miles and about an hour, depending on traffic), but there are plenty of scenic areas to stop off for pictures or picnics if you want to prolong your road trip. 

Summer may be the best time to visit Yellowstone, but it’s also the busiest. If you’re driving to the park during these months, try to arrive early if you plan on seeing some of the more popular spots around the park. 

If you don’t have your own set of wheels for your Yellowstone road trip, find a rental car with Wanderu to compare the best deals from all the rental car agencies.

Flying to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

When searching for flights to Yellowstone, there are a few different options to choose from. 

Bozeman is home to the largest airport near Yellowstone National Park. Big carriers like United, Sun Country, Delta and more service the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport from the East Coast, West Coast, down south and everywhere in between. From the airport, it’s about an hour and a half drive to the park.

There are also a few regional airports you could fly into. The West Yellowstone Airport is the closest airport to Yellowstone, just five minutes from the park entrance. This is the most convenient option by far, though you may end up paying a little extra for that convenience. A few national airlines like United, Delta, and JetBlue have flights into West Yellowstone.

Other regional airports close to Yellowstone include the Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody (55 miles away), Jackson Hole Airport (72 miles away), and Idaho Falls Airport (109 miles away). 

You’ll likely need to drive from whichever airport you fly into (with the exception of West Yellowstone Airport). To get the best deal, search, compare and book your rental car on Wanderu!

How to Get Around within Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

There is no public transport available within Yellowstone National Park, so the best way to get around Yellowstone is by driving. No matter which entrance you are coming through, you can expect to pay $35 per vehicle. The good news is this pass lasts seven days, so you’ll have plenty of time to get all the bang for your buck. 

Summer is the best time to visit Yellowstone. It’s the only time of year when all five park entrances are open, and it’s also the only time you’re guaranteed access to all the main attractions. Once the snow begins to fall, road conditions within the park are a bit dicey. Due to the high Yellowstone elevation, most roads are closed through the winter and into early spring. 

If you are visiting Yellowstone without a car, various hotel shuttles drop passengers at park entrances. You could also join a tour and leave all the planning logistics to the pros! This tour from Yellowstone Tours includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in West Yellowstone plus a local guide to show you all the sights. Don’t worry – there’s free cancellation if your plans change.

Things to Do in and around Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

As one of the largest national parks in the US, there are TONS of things to see and do in Yellowstone National Park and all along park boundaries. 

Encounter wildlife like bison, wolves, and bears in Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley (this adventure with a naturalist lets you spot wildlife via high-power spotting scope).

The Grand Loop Road includes highlights like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Yellowstone Lake.

There are too many other adventures to list: kayaking on Yellowstone Lake, whitewater rafting on Yellowstone River,  hiking in and around Yellowstone’s own Grand Canyon, and watching the faithful geysers gush. 

If you’re looking for fun detours to add to your Yellowstone itinerary, hit up Glacier National Park or Grand Tetons National Park, too!

Getting to Yellowstone National Park isn’t as simple as taking a bus to New York City or a train to Philadelphia, but that doesn’t mean taking buses or trains is impossible. The Wanderu app is here to help! With hot deals from all the best bus and train carriers in North America, you can compare and book your tickets to Yellowstone, stress-free.

Whether you opt for the eco-friendly option of ground travel or appreciate the freedom of having your own set of wheels, getting to the park is only the beginning. Once you get there, Yellowstone and its magical environment ensure endless adventures. Enjoy!

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About the author
Abby Valinski

Abby Valinski

Abby is a traveler, writer, and lover of all things outdoors. When she's not traveling, you can find her devouring a fantasy novel, conquering a hiking trail, or researching her next destination.

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