Mammoth Hot Springs Area

5 miles from the Gardiner (north) entrance to Yellowstone

If you’re traveling to the park from points north, Mammoth Hot Springs is the first hub you’ll hit—and it’s a fine base of operations for history buffs, wildlife-watchers, and geology fans. Besides the historic Mammoth Hotel, the complex also features Fort Yellowstone, where rangers from the U.S. Army lived from the 1890s to 1918. Elk frequently graze on the lawn outside the hotel, and the area’s top attraction—the sculpted travertine terraces—should be on everyone’s to-do list.

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Canyon Village Area

40 miles from the West Yellowstone (west) entrance; 38 miles from the Gardiner (north) entrance

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, with its two astonishing waterfalls, is one of the park’s superstar attractions. Canyon Village serves as its bustling jumping-off point, where hordes of travelers come for food, souvenir shopping, or a stop at one of the park’s most impressive visitor centers. Ranger programs and activities give you plenty to do.

Tower-Roosevelt Area

23 miles from the Gardiner (north) entrance; 29 miles from the northeast entrance

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This small development in north-central Yellowstone takes half its name from the fact that Teddy Roosevelt once camped in the area (the other half comes from nearby Tower Fall). The junction sits at the doorstep of the wildlife-packed Lamar Valley, making early-morning wolf- and bear-spotting expeditions easy. It’s far enough off the beaten path to feel like a throwback to a simpler time; you won’t have to jostle with crowds of travelers as you will at Old Faithful and Canyon.

Lake Village Area

27 miles from the east entrance; 56 miles from the West Yellowstone (west) entrance; 43 miles from the south entrance

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This complex on the northern shore of enormous Yellowstone Lake is the spot for an old-fashioned waterfront getaway. Trails, scenic lake cruises, guided fishing trips, and boat rentals are all on offer in the area, but no one would blame you if you simply whiled away the hours staring at the lake, either. You’ll also find several dining options, gift shops, and a nearby visitor center at Fishing Bridge.

Grant Village Area

22 miles from the south entrance; 47 miles from the West Yellowstone (west) entrance

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The first developed area you’ll hit coming from the park’s south entrance, Grant is a sprawling collection of lodge rooms, restaurants, a giant campground, visitor center, and general store. Though the area in general is undistinguished, it has some excellent lake views and one hidden gem of a restaurant, plus great wildlife-watching opportunities.

Old Faithful Area

30 miles from the West Yellowstone (west) entrance; 39 miles from the south entrance

If there’s a single can’t-miss spot in this gigantic park, it’s the Old Faithful area. Upper Geyser Basin, home to the world’s densest concentration of geysers, is the centerpiece of this hub, but you’ll find plenty of manmade attractions, too: three lodging options, five restaurants, a top-notch visitor center, and a general store. And Old Faithful Snow Lodge is one of two hotels open in winter.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.