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What is the Best Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

What is the Best Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Planning a trip to Yellowstone and wondering what is the best entrance to Yellowstone National Park?  Anyone who has been to the park will tell you it is vast and full of amazing things to do. However given it’s enormous size it should come as no surprise that there are 5 Yellowstone entrances that are great distances from one and other. In this guide we will tell you all of the entrances, and what entrance for Yellowstone is best for specific reasons. 

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What are the 5 Yellowstone Entrances? 

Roosevelt Arch Yellowstone - Best Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Roosevelt Arch Yellowstone – Best Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

As I mentioned above, Yellowstone is vast. In fact it is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined at a whopping 3,472 square miles (2,221,766 acres). 
As such the 5 entrances to Yellowstone are spread over vast distances so it is important that you pick the right entrance for you. 
The five entrances to Yellowstone National Park are:
  • North Entrance
  • North East Entrance 
  • East Entrance
  • South Entrance
  • West Entrance 

And from the names you can probably guess their geographic spread across the park. 

Now you know what the entrances are we will discuss what is the best entrance to Yellowstone, what is near each Yellowstone entrance and amenities at each entrance. 

But before we do that there are some practical points you need to know about some of the entrances such as Yellowstone entrance closures which will obviously influence whether or not you can use a specific entrance.

Yellowstone Entrance Closures

Yellowstone sign

Yellowstone sign

Note: the dates and opening of entrances given in this guide are indicators only. Bad weather, and rare occurrences can cause entrances to unexpectedly close. We always recommend checking the NAtional Park Service website to check status of entrances before you travel. 

Obviously if an entrance is closed then you will be unable to use it. And the truth is that there are frequent Yellowstone entrance closures.

This isn’t usually because of maintenance or traffic but due to weather. Several of the Yellowstone entrances close during bad weather and some entrances are completely seasonal they are:

Does the North Entrance to Yellowstone close?

The North Entrance at Yellowstone is in fact the only Yellowstone entrance that is open all year round.

If you want to visit Yellowstone in Winter then you will definitely want to use North Entrance as it is the only one which will be open. 

However it is worth noting that the road between the Norris Geyser Basin to Mammoth Hot Springs closes between November and April which will greatly influence your Yellowstone winter itinerary. 

North-East Entrance to Yellowstone closures 

This entrance may close in Winter. Be sure to check the Yellowstone National Park Service Website before traveling to find out whether this entrance will be open or shut for you dates of visit. 

East Entrance to Yellowstone Closures 

This entrance is one of the seasonal entrances to Yellowstone. This entrance is only usable between May and 1st November every year (for exact dates for your year of travel be sure to check the Park service website). 

South Entrance to Yellowstone Closures? 

As with the East entrance, the South entrance has a limited opening period between mid-May through early November for all vehicles usually.

The entrance then reopens in December but only to certain types of traffic. From Mid December to Mid March oversaw vehicles such as snowmobiles will be permitted to use this entrance. 

When is the West Entrance to Yellowstone Closed?

West Yellowstone entrance is another Yellowstone entrance that closes seasonally. Usually this entrance is open and permitted to be used by cars from the third Friday of April at 8:00 until c. November 1st.

However this and other entrances are always liable to close if the weather and conditions dictate. Therefore it is always important to check your entrance status before you set off. 

So now you have an overview of the entrances to Yellowstone and their operational dates we want to discuss which is the best Yellowstone entrance. 

What is the Best Entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone - Yellowstone with toddlers

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

When you think about the best Yellowstone entrance to use I would say that this will depend on a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Time of year you are visiting  as some entrances are closed during certain times of year
  • Road Closures within Yellowstone – There is an extensive system of roads in Yellowstone, which all require maintenance. BE sure the roads you need close to your entrance or Attraction you want to visit are operational to precvent a long and circuious journey. 
  • What you want to see – if there is an attraction you most want to see more than anything else I would advise picking the entrance nearest to it to make sure this is a priority on your Yellowstone itinerary.

If you are traveling during the main Yellowstone season with no road or entrance closures then I would personally always pick to base myself near West Yellowstone at the West Entrance. 

Next Read: Yellowstone Summer packing list

However if you are traveling in the off season or if you are worried or if there is a chance of bad weather causing closures then you absolutely should only consider entering via the North Entrance

For more information pin where to stay by each Yellowstone entrance check out this post. 

What is the main entrance to Yellowstone?

There actually isn’t one entrance that can be categorised as the MAIN entrance to Yellowstone. 

Some people may consider North Entrance the main entrance because it is the one that has year round opening. 

Another reason that North Entrance could be considered to be the main entrance is because it is often considered the ceremonial entrance to Yellowstone. 

The famed Roosevelt arch is at North entrance and is perhaps the most visually and iconic entrance at the park.

Which entrance into Yellowstone is the best for certain attractions ?

If you want to pick your entrance to Yellowstone based on their proximity to certain attractions then this is the breakdown of what each entrance is best for:

North Entrance


  • Mammoth Hot Springs 
  • Fort Yellowstone Historic District

Closest Town: Gardiner

Closest Airport: Bozeman International Airport

This entrance has longest opening dates of any entrance. 

Northeast Entrance


  • Lamar Valley

Closest Town: Cooke City

Attractions Outside of Yellowstone near entrance:

  • Beartooth Highway – a beautiful scenic drive that goes to a height of 11,000feet.

East Entrance

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone


  • Yellowstone Lake.
  • Hayden Valley
  • Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Closest Town: Lake Yellowstone

Cody is also popular but over a 50 mile drive but is a great location for those happy to stay further outside of the park. 

Attractions Outside of Yellowstone near entrance:

  • Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway

South Entrance


Closest Town: Jackson

Attractions Outside of Yellowstone near entrance:

  • Grand Teton National Park

West Entrance

West Yellowstone view - Best Entrance for Yellowstone

West Yellowstone view – Best Entrance for Yellowstone


  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Midway Geyser Basin
  • Norris Geyser Basin
  • Old Faithful

Closest Town: West Yellowstone

Attractions Outside of Yellowstone near entrance:

  • Grizzly and Wold Discovery Center

FAQS About the Best Entrance for Yellowstone

Now we have given you are overview of the best entrance for Yellowstone we will answer some of your specific questions. However if you don’t see your question answered here please leave us a comment and we are happy to answer.