Yellowstone National Park, founded in 1872, is America’s first national park. It spans nearly 9,000 square km in Wyoming, partly encroaching on Idaho and Montana as well. One of the most attractive places to visit during your trip to the park is Yellowstone Bear World for a great drive-through as you watch free-roaming wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park also offers fabulous landscapes of green forests, wide valleys, thundering waterfalls, and canyons, but it is mainly for its geothermal area that 4 million people visit every year. Geysers, fumaroles and colored thermal pools are the masters. There is also the Norris Geyser Basin, a hydro-thermal basin with a constantly changing landscape.
Let’s see how to visit the place.
Costs and timetables
The park is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. However, the Grand Loop Road, the 8-shaped road that connects all the park’s points of interest, is only accessible between May and mid-October, with periods varying based on snowfall. Check online for seasonal openings before planning your trip.
The entrance fee is:
- $ 35 for a non-commercial vehicle with a maximum of 4 passengers
- $ 30 for a motorbike or snowmobile with a maximum of 2 passengers
- 20 $ for individual entry on foot, by bike, by skis, etc.
The ticket is valid for 7 days from the first access. You can buy the ticket or pass at the entrance toll booths and the Visitor Center. Always check the updated costs on the official website.
How to get there
The Norris Geyser Basin is located in the central area of the park. Reaching it is very simple.
- From West Yellowstone, enter the park from W Entrance Road, and continue to Madison Junction. Here, take the Grand Loop Road, and turn left at the intersection with Norris Canyon Road. The total distance is 45 km.
- From Canyon, simply follow Norris Canyon Road west for 20km.
- If arriving from Gardiner, enter the park via N Entrance Road, then take Grand Loop Road south. At the intersection with Norris Canyon Road, turn right. The total distance is 43 km.
When driving in Yellowstone, always consider some slowdown due to traffic, or perhaps because some wild animal is occupying the carriageway.
When to Go
Summer is the best time to visit Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Park in general because, as we have seen, the Grand Loop Road is closed for most of the year.
In any case, I do not recommend planning a trip to Yellowstone in the periods immediately before or after the scheduled opening, as snowfalls may start earlier or end later. There is no specific best time of day. However, I recommend visiting Norris Geyser Basin early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.
Where to sleep and eat
The park is very extensive and requires a stay of at least three nights, possibly divided into different areas of the park, to always be close to the various attractions.
The optimal solution would be to sleep inside the park, for example, at Canyon Lodge, which being in the center is at a fairly strategic point. In addition, it has a restaurant, a self-service and a café, to satisfy all tastes and budgets.
The hotels inside the park do not have an excellent quality-price ratio, obviously excluding the location. If you prefer some cheaper option, divide your overnight stays between West Yellowstone and Gardiner, where you will find motels and restaurants of all kinds.