Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a dormant volcano, featuring geysers and hot springs. It is a unique national park, with sites like the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. It is home to wildlife like America’s largest buffalo herd, grizzly bears, and wolves. Amongst its natural wonders is the Mystic Falls: A Tranquil Oasis, Lamar Valley: A Wildlife Haven, Grand Prismatic Spring: A Kaleidoscope of Colors, and Tower Fall.
Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, and choosing an airport to fly into for your trip affects your experience. Decide which one suits your needs best. Here are the factors to consider and a detailed breakdown of the top airports you can use for your grand adventure. We have compiled this guide to help you pick the best Airport that matches your preferences.
The Gateway Airports
Table Of Contents
- West Yellowstone Airport (WYS), located just 2 miles from Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance, serves as a convenient gateway for travelers. Despite its smaller scale compared to larger counterparts like Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN), WYS offers unique charm and accessibility. Situated close to the North and West entrances of the park, it provides swift access for Yellowstone adventurers. While WYS may not have an extensive network of nonstop destinations like larger hubs, it connects travelers to key regional locations, ensuring a smooth journey into Yellowstone. It’s the ideal choice for those prioritizing proximity to Yellowstone’s geothermal wonders, pristine wilderness, and captivating wildlife.
- Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN):BZN is 88 miles from Yellowstone, North Entrance. Bozeman’s BZN airport is the busiest in the state and the most popular airport for many Yellowstone visitors due to its proximity to the North and West entrances, resulting in high connectivity and frequent services. The airport has expanded its nonstop destinations to a total of 31.
- Jackson Hole Airport (JAC): Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is 49 miles from Yellowstone, South Entrance, in Jackson, Wyoming. JAC is the closest to Grand Teton National Park, making it an excellent choice for those planning to visit the national park. Numerous non-stop flights to multiple destinations and a picturesque route through the Tetons to the South Entrance of Yellowstone. Experience fewer flight cancellations at this airport than at any other major US airport. Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport inside a national park (Grand Teton). It serves up to 15 destinations throughout the United States. The airport emphasizes noise reduction measures and environmental sustainability.
- Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA): Idaho Falls Regional Airport is 110 miles from Yellowstone, West Entrance. Idaho Falls Regional Airport offers flights to and from several major cities. Flights to and from Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Phoenix are part of the airport. Unlike Yellowstone Regional Airport, Idaho Falls Regional Airport offers more flight options. The airport is serviced by major airlines, giving reliable services. It has car rental services, making transportation easier, and more convenient. However, there are no direct international flights.
Factors Influencing Airport Choice
A. Geographic Considerations
Nearest Park Entrances
The closest airport to Yellowstone National Park is Yellowstone Airport (YWS). T 3 miles from the West Entrance to the park. You do not have to struggle with additional transport to the park.
Scenic Routes and Terrain
If you enjoy road trips, flying into an airport that is a bit farther away but offers a scenic drive to Yellowstone would be ideal. You may also want a different national park nearby, such as Glacier or Grand Teton.
B. Flight Availability and Options
Consider the airlines each airport serves. There should be direct and connecting flights. Major international airports are more likely to have regular flights from multiple locations. Flights to larger airports such as Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) or Denver International Airport (DEN) are easier. Take a connecting flight to a smaller airport closer to Yellowstone.
C. Transportation and Convenience
Rental Cars and Shuttle Services
Some airports do not have ample car rental facilities. Check whether your chosen airport has rental services from reputable companies and their operating hours. Aldo considers transportation options like shuttle services, taxis, or public transportation.
Travel Times to the Park
Travel time is the length of time needed to move from one place to another. Consider the distance from your airport to the national park. A closer distance means time saved.
Exploring Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
A. Airport Layout and Facilities
Bozeman Yellowstone Airport amenities feature a restaurant and lounge, wi-fi, wireless internet access, gift shops, conference rooms, and travel services. There is one terminal building, and all facilities and services are within the same building. It becomes easier for passengers to navigate the airport and find what they need.
B. Travel Tips and Local Insights
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Bozeman
- Comfort Inn Bozeman near University
- La Quinta by Wyndham Bozeman.
Pre-book for Kayak and Hiking tours as well as your transportation.
Embracing Jackson Hole Airport
A. Airport Overview
Terminals and Services
JAC is small, making it easy to find your way around. There is only one main terminal building. All gates are in a single concourse, making it easy for passengers to navigate the airport. It is the only airport in Grand Teton Park (Nps.gov). It features 11 stand gates. It has a terminal layout leading to food, shops, and services.
Artistic and Cultural Exhibits
It features multiple gallery spaces, from steel structures to paintings. The pieces also range from classic, western landscapes to bold modern depictions of the cowboy to stunning wildlife photography.
B. Planning Your Visit
- Grand Teton Climbers Ranch – American Alpine Club
- The Hostel
- Grand Targhee Resort
- The Lodge at Jackson Hole
- Helicopter Tours
- Air Tours
- Sightseeing Tours
- Multi-day Tours
- River Rafting & Tubing
Unveiling Idaho Falls Regional Airport
A. Airport Facilities
Terminals and Amenities
The terminal is for both domestic and international passengers. The airport terminal features restaurants, gift shops, and lounges. Find rental car counters, baggage claim areas, and ticketing counters on the ground level. Idaho Falls Airport has one main passenger terminal, with two levels.
Idaho Falls Regional Airport has five airlines that offer nonstop flights to 12 destinations. It also caters to connecting flights to thousands of cities worldwide. Amongst the airlines is Allegiant Air, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.
B. Gateway to Eastern Yellowstone
Unique Attractions Nearby
- Giant Eagle Waterfall Nest
- Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park
- Collectors Corner Museum
Making the Right Choice
A. Comparative Analysis
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
- High connectivity
- Frequent services
- More direct flights
- Diverse operations
- Proximity to the park
- More crowding and potential delays
Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)
- Unique location
- Multiple destinations
- Great architecture
- Noise reduction
- Environmental sustainability
- Aircraft restrictions
Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA)
- More flight options
- Major airlines
- Connecting flights
- Further from Yellowstone
B. Tailoring Your Experience
Guided tours allow you to get closer to the park’s animals. Hiking with a private guide takes you away from the busier areas. There is also large group accommodation in case you have company.
Getting from the Airport to Yellowstone
Bozeman to Yellowstone
Routes and Transportation Modes
There is no direct connection from Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park. Instead, take the bus to Mountain Village Center, take the walk to Huntley Lodge at Big Sky Resort, take the shuttle to West Yellowstone, MT, then take the taxi to Yellowstone National Park. Paradise Valley is the most scenic of the three drives from Bozeman to Yellowstone, featuring mountains on both sides, with a scenic valley. It’s a lovely drive. There are two roads through Paradise Valley: Highway 89 or Route 540 (Destinationmontana.com).See the Full Scenic Route Map
- Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
- Grand Prismatic Spring
- Museum of the Rockies
- Montana Whitewater Rafting &
- Zipline – Gallatin
- Big Sky Resort
- Norris Geyser Basin
Jackson Hole to Yellowstone
Explore iconic geysers, canyons, and waterfalls from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone. U.S. Highway 89/191 takes you through Grand Teton National Park, offering drivers scenic mountain views all along the way.
Must-See Sights Along the Way
- Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center
- National Museum of Wildlife Art
- Mormon Row Historic District
- Scenic Turnouts
- Jackson Lake Overlook
Idaho Falls to Yellowstone
There is no direct connection from Idaho Falls to Yellowstone National Park. Take the bus to Rexburg, ID, take the bus to Island Park, then take the drive to Yellowstone National Park. You can also take the bus to Rexburg, ID, take the bus to West Yellowstone, MT, then take the taxi to Yellowstone National Park.
Exploring the Vicinity
From Idaho Falls to Yellowstone National Park, explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful, and Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. You can also stop by Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Lake.
Top Sights and Activities in Yellowstone
A. Iconic Landmarks
Old Faithful and the Geysers
Old Faithful is a cone geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. It erupts more frequently than any other big geyser, although it is not the largest one.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the first large canyon on the Yellowstone River downstream. It gives you the best hikes and views of the Park. It expresses the park’s geologic history in dramatic colours.
B. Wildlife Encounters
Best Spots for Observation
- Grand Prismatic Spring
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
- Mammoth Hot Springs
Insider Tips for a Remarkable Visit
A. Crowd Management
Timing Your Trip
The best times to visit Yellowstone National Park are from late April to May and September through early October. During this period, there are fewer crowds.
- The Lamar Valley
- Hike Mount Washburn
- Trout Lake
- Shoshone Lake
- Blacktail Plateau Drive
B. Weather Considerations
- Lightweight, and breathable wear
- Jacket and pants
- Bear Spray
- Sunglasses and Sunscreen
- Hiking Boots
Lodging Options and Reservations
A. National Park Lodges
Availability and Booking
Make reservations for most campsites and all hotels in the park. You do not need a timed entrance reservation for Yellowstone, but you need to purchase a parking pass for entry. Yellowstone National Park Lodges operates nine lodges with more than 2,000 rooms.
Unique Accommodation Experiences
- Alpine Motel
- Bar N Ranch
- Three Bear Lodge
- Parade Rest Guest Ranch
- Evergreen Motel
- The Explorer Cabins of Yellowstone
B. Nearby Hotels and Rentals
- Yellowstone Riverside Cottages
- Yellowstone Village Inn
- Lake Lodge Cabins
- Gray Wolf Inn & Suites
- The Roosevelt Hotel
Dining Experiences in and Around Yellowstone
A. In-Park Dining
The best restaurants in Yellowstone National Parkare Mammoth General Store, Old Faithful Basin Store, Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room, and Old Faithful General Store. Yellowstone National Park has 20 restaurants offering grab-and-go, quick service, full service, and upscale dining. Try berries, bison, and game.
B. Local CuisinNon
Numerous restaurants, diners, cafes, pancake houses, and coffee shops serve authentic Western cookouts and local cuisine. In-park canteens serve casual fare like sandwiches, while high-end restaurants like the Lake Hotel Dining Room and the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room offer game meats.
Capturing Memories: Photography Hotspots
A. Photogenic Landscapes
Sunrise and Sunset Locations
- Sunrise at Mammoth Hot Springs in YellowstoneKen Hubbard
- Steam rising over Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser BasinKen Hubbard
- Clepsydra Geyser
- Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls
- Grand Prismatic Overlook
- Yellowstone Sign
- Lamar Valley
- Mount Washburn
- Old Faithful
- Upper Geyser Basin
- Hayden Valley
B. Photography Tours and Workshops
Numerous businesses offer painting and photography tours in Yellowstone with professional guides that can help you make the most of your visit. Guided photo tours offer a local professional photographer instructor and one-on-one shooting.
Safety and Wilderness Etiquette
A. Park Guidelines and Precautions
- Never approach wildlife because the animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable. The safest view of wildlife is from inside a car. Stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals.
- Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas.
- Never feed wildlife.
- Never park on the road or block traffic
- Keep all food and garbage.
B. Leave No Trace Principles
Responsible Outdoor Ethics
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Inspect your campsite, food preparation areas, and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Get rid of all trash, leftover food, and litter.
- Utilize toilet facilities.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- Use small amounts of biodegradable soap.
- Observe wildlife from a distance.
- Never feed animals.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Beyond Yellowstone: Side Trips and Extensions
A. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is northwest of the U.S. state of Wyoming, featuring the Teton mountain range, the 4,000-meter Grand Teton peak, and Jackson Hole. Consider in summer for mountaineering, hiking, backcountry camping, and fishing.
B. Surrounding Attractions
- Yellowstone Hot Springs.
- Big Gun Fun.
- Yellowstone Giant Screen.
- Quake Lake and Hebgan Lake.
- River rafting.
- Bear World.
- Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.
Seasonal Highlights and Considerations
A. Spring and Summer Visits
Park Blooms and Baby Animals
Baby animals appear from April till June and spotting them is truly charming. Pups, cubs, calves, and lambs are usually born during winter and come out to the sun for the first time.
Outdoor Activity Recommendations
- Game viewing
- Hike in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks
- Go rafting and paddling
- Go camping
- Stay or dine at a historic hotel
B. Fall and Winter Excursions
Changing Landscapes and Quiet Serenity
The weather in Yellowstone during the autumn months can vary. Temperatures fall between 20 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Days get shorter as winter nears, and temperatures drop once the sun goes down. Explore Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks in winter by snowshoe.
Check weather conditions, pack proper clothing and equipment, and review winter safety tips. For a better experience, view wildlife through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars.
In conclusion, there are eight airports accessible to Yellowstone. Choose where to fly depending on your budget and drive time. Choose between West Yellowstone Airport as the closest, Jackson Hole Airport closer to Yellowstone & Grand Teton, and Salt Lake City if on a budget. Search flights to each airport and find the best price for your trip dates.
FAQs for Airport Selection
How do I decide which airport is best for my Yellowstone trip?
To decide which airport is best for your Yellowstone trip, it’s essential to consider several factors that can impact your travel experience. Yellowstone National Park is vast, and the best airport for you depends on your planned attractions, accommodation, and overall travel preferences.
- Choose Your Attractions: Start by identifying the specific attractions and areas within Yellowstone you want to visit. Yellowstone has multiple entrances, and the airport you select can significantly affect your proximity to these sites. For instance, if you’re primarily interested in the geothermal wonders around the Old Faithful area, you might prioritize airports closer to the park’s western entrances, like West Yellowstone Airport. Conversely, if you’re exploring the Lamar Valley or the northeastern regions, Cody Yellowstone Regional Airport might be more suitable.
- Accommodation: Consider where you plan to stay during your Yellowstone visit. If you’ve already booked accommodations, your choice of airport should align with the proximity of your lodging. Some hotels and lodges offer shuttle services from specific airports, so check with your accommodation provider for recommendations.
- Season and Flight Availability: Be mindful of the time of year you plan to visit. Some airports, like West Yellowstone Airport, operate seasonally, with limited flight options during the winter months. In contrast, larger airports such as Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and Jackson Hole Airport offer more year-round flights. Ensure your chosen airport’s flight schedule aligns with your travel dates.
- Ground Transportation: Investigate the availability of ground transportation from the airport to your desired destinations within the park. Rental car services, shuttles, and public transportation options can vary between airports. Select an airport that offers convenient transportation options for your needs.
- Travel Preferences: Consider your personal travel preferences, such as your willingness to drive longer distances or your preference for a smaller, more convenient airport. Some travelers prioritize shorter travel times to the park, while others may prefer larger airports with more flight choices.
Ultimately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Your decision should align with your unique itinerary, lodging choices, and travel preferences. By carefully considering these factors, you can select the airport that best suits your Yellowstone adventure, ensuring a more enjoyable and efficient trip.
What is the closest airport to Yellowstone National Park?
The closest airport to Yellowstone National Park is West Yellowstone Airport, just a few miles from the West Entrance. It’s primarily seasonal, operating during late spring to early fall, making it ideal for accessing the park’s western attractions like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring.
For off-peak or more flight options, consider Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana or Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming. While farther, they offer year-round flights and are reasonably close to park entrances.
When planning your Yellowstone trip, check your chosen airport’s schedules and proximity to your intended park entrance for a smooth visit.
Are there direct flights to Yellowstone’s gateway airports?
Yes, there are direct flights to Yellowstone’s gateway airports. Yellowstone National Park is served by several gateway airports in the surrounding region, making it accessible from various parts of the United States. While not all airports offer year-round direct flights, many do during the peak tourist season, which typically runs from late spring to early fall.
What are the transportation options from the airports to the park?
You can use a car, bus or train. When traveling from the airports to the Yellowstone National Park, you have several options:
- Car Rental: If you value flexibility, consider renting a car from various agencies at the airport. This choice allows you to explore at your pace and access the park easily. Check for parking and park-specific guidelines.
- Airport Shuttle Bus: Many airports offer shuttle buses to the park or nearby transport hubs, like train stations or bus terminals. These shuttles are comfortable and reliable, suitable if you have lots of luggage.
- Public Transportation (Bus/Train): Depending on park and airport locations, public transit can be economical and eco-friendly. Research local bus or train routes connecting the airport to the park or city center. Be prepared for potential schedule variations.
- Rideshare and Taxis: Convenient door-to-door options include rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, often available at airports. Taxis are also accessible at designated stands, though they can be pricier than public transport.
- Airport Transfer Services: Some airports provide specialized transfer services to various destinations, including the park. Booking ahead can ensure a hassle-free journey.
Consider your budget, group size, luggage, and personal preferences to choose the best transport. Stay updated on service details and schedules, particularly if you have specific arrival times or are traveling during peak seasons.
In summation, when flying to Yellowstone, book your rental car or use hotel and park shuttles. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport or Yellowstone Airport is limited to book-in-advance taxis and airport shuttles for getting to town. Pick your destination airport with your preferences.