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best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

Austin, Texas
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best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

My husband, eight year old son and I have decided to take our summer trip to Yellowstone. We have SW airline vouchers and want to use them to get as far as we can...Salt Lake, Denver?? and then rent a car and drive the rest of the way. That said, can anyone tell me which entrance we should look at staying at during our visit? And Why? I have heard a lot about the north entrance and things to do. Also, not sure what route to drive there from these airports??

Bruceton Mills...
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1. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

Here's a vote for the south entrance. The views of the Grand Tetons as you come up from the south are spectacular.

You could fly into Jackson Hole, WY or Salt Lake City, UT. SLC is a 5.5 hour drive or something like that.

I'd stay in the park if you can. Canyon is good. Lake is good. Others are good too but further to wildlife areas.

You might take a look at our website. We tried to make it helpful to others after our trips there.


Yellowstone link on the left.

Austin, Texas
13 posts
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2. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

Thanks for the "vote." I visited your website too. That will be a big help in deciding. Unfortunately, SW only flies to Salt Lake and Denver that I know of.

If we enter the south entrance, is it feasible to travel through the park to the north entrance in a days drive should we decided to stay at the north side.

We, too, enjoy adventure vacations as well and did both Hawaii and Belize/Guatemala on an adventure style vacation, like you. That is why we choose Yellowstone for this summer...rafting, hiking, fishing, horseback riding...etc!

Just a little difficult to decide which way is best to get there. Wish SW flew there!

western WA
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3. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

300 miles vs. 525 miles .... Salt Lake wins.

Have you checked on accomodations? Better do that right away, before you do anything else. Check Xanterra, Cooke City, West Yellowstone and Gardiner.

Driving from Jackson to the north entry in a single day is not easy. Driving in the park is very slow, plus you need to plan time to stop and see things like geysers and animals.

Atlanta, Georgia
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for Road Trips
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4. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

My vote is to fly into SLC. We flew out of SLC in 2007 and Denver in 2008 but did Black Hills too in trip. I would split my time between Jackson Hole and West Yellowstone for touring the park if you want to stay outside the park. If not then call Xanterra ASAP for in park reservations. We like West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole for things to do, restaurants and better lodging. While in Jackson Hole do a float trip on Snake River- very scenic. We do not like Gardiner. It has a few restaurants and not many nice hotels. We stayed in Gardiner in 2008 and will never stay there again. Enjoy your trip planning.

Bemidji, Minnesota
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for Yellowstone National Park
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5. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

You haven't mentioned how much time you have available. If you fly into Denver, it will take a long day's drive to get to the park and a long day's drive to get back to the airport. That's 2 days out of your vacation time. If you fly to Salt Lake City, it still takes a long drive to get there and you will be riding in the car for that long with your 8 year old. Even thought the cost is higher, you should consider flying into Jackson since you will be so much closer to the two national parks. Yellowstone is a big park and it is a long slow drive from one side to the other. I'd suggest you really consider lodging inside the park for most of the time. You could stay in West Yellowstone (closest to the geyser basins) Gardiner (closer to some of the rafting) or Cooke City (closer to the Lamar Valley for the wildlife viewing) but from any of these to the center of the park will be an hour or more drive. Do you want to give up 2 hours a day of your vacation just in driving in and out of the park? I'd try to get lodging at Canyon or Lake for part of your trip and Old Faithful for part as they are the closest to the major attractions in the park.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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6. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?


I am a big fan of Southwest airlines also and understand your wanting to use your vouchers. It is unfortuante they don't fly into the smaller venues like Jackson. That being said, going from SLC is doable and would allow you to use the vouchers. Had I not found a fantastic deal to Jackson on Delta, I'd be doing the same thing--flying Southwest into SLC.

We visited Yellowstone before our daughter was born in 1997 and will return there with her this year so she can experience the wonders we did (and we get to experience them for a 2nd time!) We are going for 11 days and are splitting our time between several outside the park locations. We will stay our first night in Jackson, then spend 3 nights in West Yellowstone, 2 nights in Gardiner, 2 nights in Gardiner, 2 nights in Cody (not for Yellowstone but for the museums) and the final 2 nights back in Jackson. For our first time, we based at the West entrance in West Yellowstone. We saw a lot, but we didn't' get to the Lamar & Hayden valleys. We hope to see more this year by basing in a couple of locales. It is true you will have more drive time if you stay outside the park, but to us, getting there was half the fun. There's so much to see along the way that it really breaks up the driving. We also enjoy a few more amenities that outside lodging offers (internet, TV, pools, etc) that inside doesn't offer. If those amenities aren't important to you, then by all means, you could consider staying inside the park, but I would call very soon for reservations.

There's so much to see and do in this area. It would really help us to know how much time you have. By flying to SLC, you will need to add a couple of days drive to your vacation if you can. Also, since you will be so close, be sure to include a couple of days exploring Grand Teton National Park for some jaw dropping scenery. Moose sightings are fun also! Jackson is a great base for touring the Tetons.

If you have several days/nights, I would recommend splitting your lodging time between at least 2 areas if you stay outside the park (or even inside, for that matter) to help save drive time.

I believe Voyaging, one of the DE's for Yellowstone, has often advised people to not overplan a trip to Yellowstone. To me, this is the best advice you can get from anyone on this forum. Go with a very loose plan to allow for the unexpected. You never know what you might encounter.

Have fun!

7. Re: best entrance to visit yellowstone from?

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