When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Yellowstone National Park is well known for its colourful hot springs, powerful geysers and impressive canyon. But it is also an important wildlife reserve, where it is possible to watch bison, grizzly bears and wolves. Did you know that the park is actually an active volcano? The next eruption is expected in 1,000 to 10,000 years: that should give you enough time to enjoy your visit to the park ;-)
If you only have one day to visit the park, your best option is to drive around the Grand Loop Road . This iconic route will take you past the park's most striking geysers and hot springs. You will also drive through Hayden Valley, a prime spot for wildlife viewing.
From Madison (West entry), drive south in the direction of Old Faithful.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Season: Open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Visitor Center: The park has 5 different entrances and many information stations. The 3 most popular, open daily from late May to late September, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. are: Grant Visitor Center, Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Old Faithful Visitor Education Center.
Road closures: Note that most of the park's roads are closed from November to mid-May, due to weather conditions. Only the road from Gardiner, Montana to Cooke City, Montana is open year-round.
Entry fee: $35/vehicle including occupants. Valid 7 days. Purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80 if you plan to visit more than 2-3 parks.
GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING
Your first stop should be Grand Prismatic Spring. With its vibrant colours, Grand Prismatic is the most spectacular hot spring in the park.
Tip: the hill behind Grand Prismatic provides a stunning view from above (accessible from the Fairy Falls Trail parking area).
OLD FAITHFUL GEYSER
One of the park's star attractions is Old Faithful, named for the regularity of its eruptions which generally occur every hour or two (enquire at the Visitor Center for approximate eruption times).
This spectacular geyser shoots columns of hot water more than 50 metres into the air. Time permitting, walk the boardwalk trail through Upper Geyser Basin to colourful Morning Glory Pool .
The Grand Loop Road continues along Yellowstone Lake to Lake Village. From there it heads north, following the Yellowstone River into Hayden Valley.
Hayden Valley is the best sector of the park for wildlife viewing. It is common to come across bison and moose along the road.
Grizzly bears are most frequently seen in spring and early summer. Pay attention and keep your camera close at hand!
As you continue to make your way north, stop in Canyon Village to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
GRAND CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE
The best view of the canyon is from Lookout Point , which is also very easy to reach. There is a parking area close by, making it the ideal viewpoint for families.
BRINK OF THE LOWER FALLS
Length (round-trip): 1.3 km
Duration (round-trip): 1 hour
Elevation gain: 77 metres
If you have the time (and energy), this trail is a spectacular 1-hour roundtrip hike that leads to a platform right at the top of the falls. The elevation change can be tiring on the way back.
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
If you still have time after the wonders of the Grand Loop Road, pay a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs north of Norris.
Mammoth Hot Springs is a complex of hot springs on terraces made up of travertine deposits, where heat-loving microorganisms create tapestries of colour in the warm water. The must-see section of Mammoth Hot Springs is the Lower Terraces area .
The highlight of the Lower Terraces is Palette spring . If you want to hike through the lower terraces, it will take you about 2 hours.
The small city of Cody was founded in 1896 by William Frederick Cody, alias Buffalo Bill, a legendary figure of the American Old West. Still today, museums and scenic routes are dedicated to the famous showman and buffalo hunter. Cody is the Rodeo Capital of the World and has a colourful downtown area abounding in steakhouses, cowboy clothing stores, historic hotels and saloons. A delightful trip back in time awaits!
BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST
This centre is dedicated to the history of the Wild West, which is explored through art, science and culture. The 3-story complex houses five world-class museums and a research library, and William F. Cody's childhood home stands in the courtyard.
Open year round (schedule varies). From early May to mid-September, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
CODY NITE RODEO
Established in 1938, Cody Nite Rodeo is the longest running rodeo and the only nighttime rodeo in the world. In addition to a great show, you will immerse yourself in an authentic western experience. Don't hesitate to have your picture taken on the rodeo bull "Mongo", ride the mechanical bull, learn to lasso like a real cowboy or cowgirl, and visit the rodeo store.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate, but it is better to buy them in advance online or from one of the downtown vendors. Every evening in the summer starting at 7 p.m.
This historic hotel was built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill himself, who named it for his youngest daughter, Irma. You can tour the hotel, stay there, or simply enjoy a meal. The hotel boasts several historic rooms that housed famous personalities such as Frédéric Remington, Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane. Buffalo Bill's private suite is also available.
OLD TRAIL TOWN
Old Trail Town is one of the most popular family-friendly western destinations in Cody. Experience first-hand the spirit of the Old West in this open-air museum. The site features 25 authentic frontier buildings from the 1890's that still bear traces of the past. You'll feel like a pioneer as you wander through the old homestead cabins, saloon, blacksmith shop, trappers cabin, general store, outlaws cabin, and much more.
Open from mid-May to the end of September, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
For your trip to Yellowstone National Park, it's a good idea to pack a picnic lunch and bring snacks and drinks because, as is the case in many national parks, the park's restaurants are frequently expensive and not necessarily of the best quality. All Yellowstone National Park restaurants and cafeterias are managed by two competing companies (Xanterra and Delaware North).
Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room ($$$)
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel stands on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. Opened in 1891, it is the park's oldest restaurant. The dinner menu is creative and upscale, with unique dishes featuring fresh fish, lamb, duck, quail and game such as bison, as well as at least one vegetarian entrée. The emphasis is on sustainable cuisine using locally sourced organic ingredients. Wines from California, Oregon, and Washington predominate on the wine list.
Reservations are not needed for breakfast or lunch, but are essential for dinner. Open daily from mid-May to early October, from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
THE CODY CATTLE COMPANY ($$)
The Cody Cattle Company offers a homestyle American buffet followed by a live country-western music show. The concept is simple: enjoy an all-you-can-eat Chuckwagon dinner featuring beef brisket, grilled chicken, steak (extra charge), baked potatoes, corn bread, apple sauce, baked beans, Caesar salad and Cole slaw, along with water, lemonade or coffee. Then sit back for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of foot-stompin' fun family entertainment with Ryan Martin and the Triple C Cowboys Band! There are three ticketing options: "Show only", "Dinner and Show" or "Dinner, Show and Cody Nite Rodeo" (at nearby Stampede Park, June 1 to August 31).
Doors open at 5 p.m., dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. and the show is from 6:30 to 7:30. The rodeo starts at 8 p.m. June 1 to September 18, 2019.
IRMA RESTAURANT AND GRILL ($$-$$$)
This restaurant is in the historic Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel, a friendly establishment filled with history. You will love its Old Far West atmosphere. Typical Wyoming cuisine featuring prime ribs, steaks, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, a salad bar and tempting desserts!
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
THE LOCAL ($$-$$$)
A favourite in Cody offering a healthy, seasonally-driven menu. The ingredients are organic and locally sourced as much as possible. A warm and inviting atmosphere, excellent service, and delicious, refined, healthy meals. You won't be disappointed!
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
CAFE MADRIZ ($$-$$$)
Café Madriz brings the authentic taste of Spanish cuisine to Montana. The owner and chef, Elena de Diego creates every dish from scratch: appetizers, hot and cold tapas, main dishes and desserts. Enjoy a variety of authentic dishes made with fresh ingredients and imported products such as Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and chorizo.
Open from mid-May to September, Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where to sleep ?
- Very Favourable