Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park? We don’t blame you! There’s a reason Yellowstone is one of the most-visited National Parks in the United States. It’s home to one of the largest concentrations of mammals in the United States (except for Alaska), and it has half the world’s hydrothermal features.
Which airport is closest to Yellowstone? How can you make the most of your time there?
In this article, we answer these questions and more as we discuss everything you need to know to plan your epic trip. Let’s get started!
What Entrance Will You Use When Visiting Yellowstone?
Yellowstone National Park spans 2.2 million acres and is larger than some states, so it’s crucial to plan your trip accordingly. There are five entrances to the park; each access is close to different sights and landmarks. Let’s break them down.
First, the North Entrance is essential to remember because it’s the only entrance to Yellowstone that’s open year-round. This entrance has proximity to Mammoth Hot Springs, an attraction that features swimmable hot springs. It’s also close to the eclectic town of Gardiner, Mont. This is also an excellent entrance for those coming from the Pacific Northwest.
Next, we have the Northeast Entrance. If you’re coming to Yellowstone for the wildlife, this is the entrance for you. It provides access to Lamar Valley, which has a high population of grizzly bears, bison, wolves, and black bears. You’ll also have a front-row seat to breathtaking views of landscapes that human activity hasn’t disrupted. It’s a must-see.
Going clockwise, the East Entrance is next. This one gives you access to Yellowstone Lake. The lake is a 20-mile-long body of water with many geothermal features. You can also hike to Lake Butte overlook and Elephant Back Mountain.
Below the East Entrance is the South Entrance. This entrance is unique as it provides access to two National Parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. There’s much thermal activity in the area, including the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
Last but not least, we have the West Entrance, which is geyser-heaven. It accesses the largest geyser basin in Yellowstone, including Old Faithful, Biscuit Basin, and at least 150 geysers within one square mile.
Pro Tip: We uncovered if you can reasonably Visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks on the Same Day? Find out!
What Is the Closest Major City to Yellowstone National Park?
Because Yellowstone is so vast, several populous cities surround the park. Which one you stay in or fly into will depend on where you’re coming from and what part of the park is most important to you.
For example, if you’re interested in exploring Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, you may want to stay in Jackson, Wyo., sandwiched between the two parks.
However, if you’re interested in exploring the West Entrance, West Yellowstone, Mont., will be your best bet. If you visit the East entrance and Yellowstone Lake, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring the old Western town of Cody, Wyo. which Buffalo Bill Cody founded.
As for the North and Northeast entrances, your best bet is Gardiner, Mont., just five miles from the North Entrance. But if you’re looking for a town closer to the Northeast entrance, you’ll find the tiny town of Cooke City, Mont., which has dining and lodging, but not much else.
Airports Closest to Yellowstone National Park
Now let’s talk about Airports. Specifically, which airport should you fly to based on your travel plans?
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Mont. (BZN) is perfect if you’re interested in exploring either the North or West entrance. It’s less than a two-hour drive from either entrance, and you can find direct, non-stop flights from 21 airports in the U.S.
Next, Cody / Yellowstone Regional Airport, Wyo. (COD), accommodates travelers interested in the East or Northeast entrances to the park. Cody is an exciting town full of Western history. You won’t regret spending a day or two there exploring eclectic shops and eating great food. It’s also less than two hours from the East and Northeast entrances.
Jackson Hole Airport, Wyo. (JAC) is another excellent option, especially if you’re interested in exploring Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. It’s a 70-minute drive from the South entrance and is perfect if you want to drive the stunning John D. Rockefeller Jr. Highway that connects the two parks.
Remember the West entrance (otherwise known as geyser-heaven)? If you want to explore this area, your best bet is to fly to Yellowstone Airport, Mont. (WYS). The airport is only 3 miles from the West entrance to the park! There is a catch, however, as the only airport that flies into Yellowstone Airport is Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah (SLC). Thus, you might have to change flights to fly to this convenient location.
Airports Closest to Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Hole Airport is the best airport to fly to if you want to explore Grand Teton National Park. It’s within the park. You’ll be minutes away from the lodging, dining, and unique attractions.
What Airport to Use for a Road Trip in the Area?
If you’re interested in an epic road trip, there are many options in this part of the country. One of the most popular road trips runs between Salt Lake City and Yellowstone National Park.
Many travelers opt to fly to Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah (SLC) and explore the 357 miles between the airport and Yellowstone National Park (including the Grand Tetons).
Another option is to fly to Cody / Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD), which can be an ideal location if you want to explore the area between Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. The distance between Yellowstone Regional airport in Cody, Wyo. is approximately 368 miles, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife, snow-capped mountains, and grasslands in between.
Pro Tip: Use our tips on How to Spend a Day in Yellowstone National Park on your adventure!
What Airlines Fly to Yellowstone National Park Airports?
If you’re flying into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Mont. (BZN), you’ll have many options for direct flights all around the country. Specifically Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York JFK, New York La Guardia, Newark, and Philadelphia, to name only a few. Flights range from the east to the west coast.
You’ll also have decent options if you want to fly into Jackson Hole Airport. Cities with direct flights include Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, JFK, Newark, Charlotte, and San Jose.
However, if you want to fly into Cody / Yellowstone Regional Airport, Wyo. or Yellowstone Airport, Mont., your options for direct flights will be limited. The only airports that fly into Cody, Wyom. are the Denver and Salt Lake City Airports, but only in the spring, summer, and fall. The only airport that flies into Yellowstone Airport, Mont., is the Salt Lake City Airpor, which doesn’t have winter flights.
Other Parks to Visit When Planning a Trip to Yellowstone National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park is a given when visiting Yellowstone since they’re less than an hour from one another! But what other National Parks should you see when you’re in the area?
If you’re headed east, it’s worth visiting Wind Caves and Badlands National Park. These are both in South Dakota, and the distance between the parks would make a fantastic road trip. Moreover, if you’re headed north, you might want to consider making a stop at Glacier National Park; and if you’re on the fence about this one, remember that the glaciers won’t be around for much longer. Now’s your chance!
Get Your Yellowstone Itinerary Ready
Yellowstone is one of the busiest National Parks in the United States. Its geothermal activity gives it an other-worldly feel, and the region’s expansiveness has a way of making all your problems seem small.
It’s truly an unforgettable experience, and if you have the chance to explore this area of the world, don’t pass it up. We have one rule: take lots of pictures!
Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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