Getting to Know the Yellowstone Area


The first step in planning your trip to Yellowstone is picking out a home base for your explorations. There are several lodges inside the park itself and many other nearby communities and towns that offer dining, hotel, cabins, and entertainment. Planning a trip to Yellowstone often involves a road trip, but don’t let your entrance gate determine where you’ll end up staying. There are lodges inside the park and many places to stay in nearby cities.

Entrances to Yellowstone

There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Each entrance is near a gateway city that offers some amenities.

  • Northeast entrance (near Cooke City, MT)
  • North entrance (near Gardiner, MT)
  • East entrance (near Cody, WY)
  • South entrance (near Jackson Hole, WY)
  • West entrance (through West Yellowstone, MT)

There are more amenities near the South and West entrances than there are near the other three entrances. Jackson Hole (near the South entrance) is a great excursion but it’s a little too far for many visitors to use it as a home base to explore Yellowstone (as it’s over an hour away from the park itself). Many visitors find that the city of West Yellowstone is the best place to stay outside the park, since it’s just 1 mile from the entrance and has a variety of entertainment, hotels, restaurants, and other services than the other entrances. It offers good Wi-Fi service and a full array of lodging and dining options.

West Entrance Attractions (in West Yellowstone, Montana)

Getting to Know the Yellowstone Area

In West Yellowstone, you can visit the Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center and see many large species up close. Here, many rescued bears, wolves, and raptors live. Live theater performances are also a top attraction in West Yellowstone, and several local theaters (including the Playmill Theater) bring the best of small-theater plays to visitors looking for a relaxing and fun-filled evening. Numerous hotels and restaurants make West Yellowstone a pleasant and comfortable home base for exploring Yellowstone National Park. It’s also where you’ll fly in if you are arriving at the Yellowstone airport. Evening entertainment in West Yellowstone (including theaters, shopping, zip line tours, and dining) will give you a chance to unwind from your daily adventures.

Top things to do near the West Entrance (West Yellowstone, MT)

There’s a lot of fun to be had in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so if you’ve got an extra day or two on your Yellowstone getaway, check out these top attractions.

  • Visit the Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center
  • See a movie at the Yellowstone Giant Screen Theater
  • Take a chartered tour of Yellowstone National Park
  • Zip line and high ropes courses
  • Shopping and dining

South Entrance Attractions (Jackson Hole, Wyoming)

Getting to Know the Yellowstone Area

Although Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a 1 hour 15 min drive from the park, it’s a fun place to visit and has a lot to offer. As a gateway to Grand Teton National Park, it’s a good place to stay after you’ve finished your touring at Yellowstone and you’re ready for outlet shopping or the majestic vistas of the Grand Tetons.

Top things to do near the South Entrance

There’s a lot of fun to be had in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so if you’ve got an extra day or two on your Yellowstone vacation, check out these top attractions.

  • Jackson Hole Aerial Tram Rides
  • Jackson Hole Playhouse
  • River Rafting
  • Shopping
  • Granite Hot Springs
  • Art Galleries

North Entrance Attractions (Gardiner, Montana)

There are several hotels and a few dining options in Gardiner, Montana, which is a small western community with a population of less than 900. The main attractions in Gardiner are river rafting trips or excursions into the park.

Northeast Entrance Attractions (near Cooke City, MT)

In the small community of Cooke City, you can visit a western trading post, tour a natural history museum, have a drink at the Miners Saloon, or visit the Cooke City General Store for souvenirs. There are cabin rentals, a few motels, and some scenic hiking trails in the area.

East Entrance Attractions (near Cody, WY)

About an hour from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is the old west town of Cody, Wyoming. Here, you can visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a favorite museum for Wild West enthusiasts. Several other museums in town make Cody a fun spot to visit.

Top Attractions near East Entrance to Yellowstone

Although it’s a good 52 miles from one of the more remote sections of the park, the town of Cody, Wyoming has some interesting historical sites and museums to explore.

  • Buffalo Bill Dam & Reservoir
  • Firearms Museum
  • Museum of the Plains Indians
  • Draper Natural History Museum
  • Teton National Forest
  • Buffalo Jump Winery
  • Tecumseh’s Old West Miniature Village and Museum

Looking for lodging in one of these gateway communities? Check out affordable Brandin Iron lodging in West Yellowstone, Montana, located 1 mile from the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Contact us today!