By Ruffin Prevost
Where is Yellowstone National Park is a question most first-time visitors find themselves asking as they begin planning a trip. To some extent, the answer depends on how you plan to travel to the park, where you’re coming from and what you plan on doing when you get there. So let’s try to answer the question by first locating the park from a global perspective.
Where is Yellowstone National Park: Global perspective
Yellowstone National Park is located in the United States of America, on the continent of North America. Most international travelers to Yellowstone are likely to arrive by airplane to an airport in Salt Lake City, Utah or Denver, Colorado. Arrivals to those two airports may then travel to another smaller, regional airport closer to the park, or rent a car or bus to drive to Yellowstone.
The closest major international airports to Yellowstone National Park are:
Denver International Airport — Denver, Colorado (airport code: DEN) is 525 miles from the East Gate of Yellowstone.
Salt Lake City International Airport — Salt Lake City, Utah (airport code: SLC) is 325 miles from the West Gate of Yellowstone.
So now let’s answer the question of where is Yellowstone National Park from a regional point of view.
Where is Yellowstone National Park: Regional perspective
Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, created at a time when the Western region of the United States was still being settled by white Europeans and their descendants. Consequently, it is not neatly contained within the boundaries of a single state, which is part of what makes it tricky to explain where is Yellowstone National Park. The park is located almost entirely within the U.S. state of Wyoming, but its northern boundary edges slightly into the state of Montana, and its eastern boundary spills over just a bit into Montana and the neighboring state of Idaho.
If you’re arriving by airplane to one of the regional airports around Yellowstone Park, then you’re getting a better idea of where is Yellowstone National Park. Your final air destination will probably be:
West Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Montana (airport code: WYS) is 5 miles from the West Gate of Yellowstone, but the airport operates only during the summer season.
Jackson Hole Airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (airport code: JAC) is 49 miles from the South Gate Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming (airport code: COD) is 54 miles from the East Gate Yellowstone.
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Bozeman, Montana (airport code: BZN) is 94 miles from the North Gate Yellowstone.
Idaho Falls Regional Airport in Idaho Falls, Idaho (airport code: IDA) is 109 miles from the West Gate of Yellowstone.
Billings Logan International Airport in Billings, Montana (airport code: BIL) is 129 miles from the Northeast Gate of Yellowstone.
About 96 percent of Yellowstone Park is in Wyoming, while 3 percent is in Montana and 1 percent is in Idaho.
Where is Yellowstone National Park: Local perspective
Yellowstone Park is a remote and isolated place, surrounded by wide open spaces and only a handful of sparsely populated communities that are probably much smaller than most travelers might expect. Local residents might define where is Yellowstone National Park as the park and its surrounding areas lying between the gateway communities. Though the gateway communities around Yellowstone all have basic services like gasoline, food and lodging, they may offer limited shopping, medical care or other special services than what travelers are used to. The Yellowstone gateway communities closest to the park are:
Cody, Wyoming — 52 miles from the Yellowstone East Gate.
Cooke City, Montana — 4 miles form the Yellowstone Northeast Gate.
Gardiner, Montana — 1 mile from the Yellowstone North Gate.
West Yellowstone, Montana — 1 mile from the Yellowstone West Gate.
Jackson, Wyoming — 60 miles from the Yellowstone South Gate.
Where is Yellowstone National Park: Inside perspective
Once you’ve entered the park from one of the five gates, it’s important to keep in mind how truly vast Yellowstone is. The world’s first national park is 2.2 million acres, or more than 3,400 square miles. That’s bigger than the countries of Luxembourg and Singapore combined, or larger than the U.S. states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. So then, where is Yellowstone National Park if you’re trying to take it all in? It’s not a park you can see all of on foot, or even by car in a single day, or even a week. It’s going to take some time, and since most visitors drive through the park, then it’s likely most folks will learn where is Yellowstone National Park from the 310 miles of paved roads that traverse the park.
For the latest information on road conditions in the park, check the National Park Service website or call a 24-hour recorded information phone line at 307-344-2117.
So no matter where you’re coming from or how you plan to enter our tour the park, learning ahead of time where is Yellowstone National Park will give you the best chance at getting the most out of your visit.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].