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Best Entrance to Yellowstone – Why Visit From The East Entrance in 2023


Yellowstone is made up of 3,472 square miles, making it larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. Unlike many other National Parks with 1-2 entrances, there are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. These entrances include 

  • Cody, Wyoming (East Entrance)
  • Gardiner, Montana (North Entrance)
  • Cooke City, Montana (Northeast Entrance)
  • West Yellowstone (West Entrance)
  • Grand Teton (South Entrance) 

When it comes to deciding what is the best entrance to Yellowstone, there are a few main factors to consider. This includes wildlife, ease of access, crowds, and scenic viewpoints. Each town and entrance to Yellowstone has its own unique features, but there is a reason Cody, Wyoming, and the east entrance is one of the most popular. 

The Most Wild Entrance to Yellowstone 

Cody, Wyoming, sees around 400,000 visitors each summer, most of which are coming to visit Yellowstone National Park. The East Entrance to Yellowstone has long been a favorite, and that’s because it is the most untamed and wild entrance to the park. 

Once leaving from Cody, visitors take what is known as the “Northfork” 54 miles deep into the wilderness to the official entrance of Yellowstone. The Northfork Valley is full of every type of wildlife imaginable, including elk, big horn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears, mule deer, bison, and more. This provides visitors the opportunity to see a plethora of wildlife before even entering the park. If taking a guided tour of Yellowstone, your chances of seeing wildlife greatly increase because the expert guides know exactly where herds & wild animals frequent during different seasons. 

Once passing the gate and entering Yellowstone National Park, the route winds up to Sylvan Pass, peaking out at 8,514 feet. Between the pass and Yellowstone Lake there will be a good chance of spotting grizzlies away from many of the other crowds in Yellowstone. Local Yellowstone tour operators track and know where the grizzlies are along the road. If wildlife is your main priority for your visit, booking a guided Yellowstone is definitely worth it.

The East Entrance of Yellowstone covers 70 miles from the town of Cody to Yellowstone Lake. That is a lot of room and wilderness for visitors to spread out and experience the wild west. It is away from the main upper and lower loops of the park and unlike visitors coming from West Yellowstone or Gardiner, who join the crowds in the most popular areas right away, the East Entrance provides a chance to see and experience Yellowstone in solitude and peace no matter the time of year. 

a deer in a field

The Town of Cody, Wyoming

Another reason why the best entrance to Yellowstone National Park is the East Entrance is because Cody is a destination in itself. One of the biggest mistakes one can make is driving through town and not allowing time to explore the area. 

Cody, Wyoming, has renowned fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, off-roading, wildlife spotting, and more. Even in the busiest summer months, the area has more than enough room to get out and experience the Rocky Mountains without all the crowds. As a Yellowstone tour operator that lives in Cody, Wyoming, here is a local take on some of the best things to do in Cody: 

  • Go Swing Dancing at Cassie’s
  • Camp at Buffalo Bill State Park
  • Watch the Sunset from Chief Joseph Pass 
  • Grab a Coffee at Rawhide 
  • Experience the Nightly Rodeo 
  • Go For a Hike Up Southfork (Don’t forget your bear spray!)
  • Grab a Drink From The Chamberlain 
  • Spot Wild Horses in Mccullough Peaks

Cody is also the perfect place to leave your RV or car behind and hop on a Yellowstone tour. The drives around Yellowstone are long, mountainous, and remote. If you’d rather take away the stress of driving around the park and want to stay in a lovely town at the base of the Rocky Mountains each evening, a guided tour is the perfect solution. Here are just a few of our itineraries for Yellowstone tours that depart from Cody: 

Guided Upper Loop & Wildlife Tour 

Guided Lower Loop & Wildlife Tour 

Yellowstone Hiking Tour 

Yellowstone Multi-Day Tours

best places to see wildlife in yellowstone