The sheer size of Yellowstone can make it challenging to organize a vacation there. When you are unsure of how long it will take you to commute from one location to another, it can be challenging to plan out your days effectively.
If you’re not traveling with a bus tour or a concessionaire that offers transportation during the summer, a car is your best bet for getting around Yellowstone. Yellowstone has no shuttle service, and the only local bus service is in the Jackson Hole region.
Keep reading below for more information.
Do You Need a Car to Visit Yellowstone National Park?
The only way to get about and see all the sights is by car. With 310 miles of paved roads, Yellowstone is relatively simple to get around. It is recommended that you verify advisories posted on the National Park Service website before you take to the road because roads frequently close due to snowfall and renovation.
You should use an approved Yellowstone map (accessible online or at the park’s five visitor centers) or specific GPS coordinates that the NPS offers to Yellowstone visitors because there aren’t many gas stations within the park, and GPS devices sometimes give the wrong directions.
Any of the airports that are close to the park offer automobile rental services. A $35 fee must be paid to enter Yellowstone by car. Your park pass, which must be presented as identification to enter the park again at any other entrance, is valid for seven days straight.
Can I Ride a Bike in Yellowstone?
Yellowstone is a popular destination for cyclists, but there aren’t any bike lanes or safe shoulders there. Animals and other roadside sights may also divert motorists’ attention. Yellowstone’s roads may be dangerous for recreational cyclists to ride on, except for a few paved routes open to bikers.
For more information on biking in Yellowstone, watch this video below:
Shuttles in Yellowstone National Park
A shuttle system is present in many national parks, but Yellowstone has never had one because of how large it is. Large groups of tourists can ride on many tour buses, which act as a sort of shuttle service.
Nonetheless, Yellowstone has announced that a driverless shuttle system would soon undergo testing in Canyon Village. Canyon Village is a suitable location to test the shuttle system because it offers the largest and newest hotel options in the park, as well as a number of local eateries.
Perhaps this is a glimpse into the future, but at present, a car is required if you want to visit Yellowstone.
How to Go Around Yellowstone Without a Vehicle
Here are some tips on how to get around without a vehicle:
Arrive at West Yellowstone Airport by Air
The West Yellowstone Airport is the ideal airport to fly into if you don’t intend to rent a car while you’re in Yellowstone. The distance from the Yellowstone Park entrance to the West Yellowstone Airport is only a few kilometers.
Here are some details regarding the West Yellowstone Airport:
- Airport Code – West Yellowstone Airport’s airport code is WYS.
- Flights from Salt Lake City and Denver – The following airlines fly to West Yellowstone Airport from Salt Lake City and Denver:
- Direct flights by Delta Airlines from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone Airport are available.
- United Airlines flies directly to West Yellowstone Airport from Denver.
- According to the season, each airline runs 2 to 3 flights every day.
- The airport offers transportation services that can take you to the park or your accommodation. Yellowstone Roadrunner and Yellowstone Taxi are two notable businesses.
- It’s true that the West Yellowstone Airport is only accessible during certain times of the year (generally about June to mid-October). Contact the airlines to find out the schedule for flights into and out of the airport. Wintertime is a closed season for the airport.
But, additional airports offer shuttle services to and from the Yellowstone region if you cannot fly directly into West Yellowstone. We advise checking the Jackson Hole Airport or the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.
Several alternative airports can be less expensive, depending on your schedule and price range.
Join a Trip to See Yellowstone Park with a Guide
There are numerous tour operators offering tours in Yellowstone Park. You don’t need a car to participate in these tours, and these businesses will work to ensure you have the greatest experience possible at Yellowstone National Park.
Also, you should confirm that the tour operator is one that the National Park Service has approved. To protect your safety, the National Park Service will inspect those businesses and provide them with a license.
Reasons to take a Yellowstone guided tour
Yellowstone offers a wide range of tour options, and the tour companies themselves are just as diverse. But if you’ve never been to Yellowstone, the following are some reasons you might want to think about going on either a solo or group tour of the park:
Tour operators can provide you with local knowledge you might not otherwise receive. They will know where to locate wildlife, top hiking routes, or the most noteworthy locations or spots you should visit.
The local tour guides can also assist you in seeing as much as you can in your limited time. Choosing a tour operator will ultimately save you time and money.
A Yellowstone guide will have a thorough understanding of safety and other hazards. There are bears in Yellowstone, and it is a bear habitat naturally. Regardless of where you travel in Yellowstone, there is a risk you can run across a bear, and the guides will be aware of all the safety concerns associated with them.
Taking a private or group trip may be the best way to visit Yellowstone if being in nature is unfamiliar to you or if you are worried about what you could experience. Your vacation can be customized to include only the sights you wish to see, and you won’t need a car for it.
It’s essential to figure out the mode of transportation if you happen to be visiting Yellowstone National Park. Ideally, you should visit Yellowstone National Park in your car, or if that’s not possible, then get a rental.