America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, is visited by over four million people a year. North Yellowstone or the Northern Range of Yellowstone is a sought area for its wildlife rich lands.
Where is Yellowstone National Park exactly? Yellowstone is made up of three different states: Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. So, when you explore all of the park, you get to visit three states during your Yellowstone park trip.
Since the park is surrounded by these states, there are a variety of airports near Yellowstone to choose from. Bozeman to Yellowstone is the best route to the north entrance to Yellowstone.
The intention of this post is to highlight the northern loop of the park. If you’re looking for the famous Yellowstone wolves and bears, this is where you’ll typically find them. The entire loop is known as the grand loop. Be sure to also check out our southern Yellowstone itinerary.
This guide is intended for those who plan on driving themselves around the park. If you’re interested in visiting Yellowstone in winter, you might want to check out one of the coolest Yellowstone tours.
I’m going to try and be as unbiased as I can, as the northern part of Yellowstone was my favorite. From watching wildlife in Lamar Valley, to staying at one of the famous Yellowstone hotels, to exploring every inch of the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.
Okay, let’s get to planning your Yellowstone vacation!
There are many places to stay in Yellowstone, but there’s only one hotel close to the Yellowstone north entrance.
Whether you’re looking for a cabin in Yellowstone, Yellowstone RV camping, or a Yellowstone park hotel, I will say this: Stay in the park.
The traffic in the park can get crazy! It might look like a short distance on the Yellowstone National Park map, but when you factor in the speed limits, the wild animal traffic jams, and thousands of other visitors, it’ll take awhile to get from point A to point B.
Although Yellowstone National Park lodging may cost you a little more, it actually buys you more time in the park, overall less stress, and more opportunities (mornings and evenings) to explore the park when most visitors haven’t arrived or have already left.
Overall, staying in a Yellowstone accommodation will escalate your experience in the park and should be highly considered.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
Staying at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins needs to be added to your Yellowstone trip. You can’t beat the location of this property for exploring the northern Yellowstone sites.
Mammoth Hotel is located in the only operating town inside the park itself. There are about 600 residents in the park and most live in Mammoth Hot Springs. Staying at this hotel is kind of like living amongst the locals.
Here are a few reasons why you should book your Yellowstone reservations at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel:
You can’t beat this location for northern Yellowstone. You can walk to restaurants, the visitor center, and the gorgeous Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces all from this hotel.
The Map Room is the place to gather throughout the day to relax. It has a massive map of the United States on the wall made from 15 different types of wood. There’s a weekly schedule in the lobby of what nightly entertainment will be offered in the Map Room.
Open Most of the Year:
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is the Yellowstone park lodging that operates the longest throughout the year. It operates May-October and then mid-December through part of March.
Only one hotel near Old Faithful is open in the winter, Old Faithful Snow Lodge, but you can only stay there through a guided tour.
Hotel Room or Cabin:
You can book a normal hotel room or one of their cabins in Yellowstone. There are different cabins to choose from and they’re all around the hotel for easy accessibility. Here’s a video of our Mammoth hotel room tour.
Okay, so it’s not the best WiFi in the world, but out of all the areas in the park, this hotel is going to have the best offered.
This hotel is well-known for its wildlife. There are elk EVERYWHERE in Mammoth, but especially on the grounds of one the best hotels in Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. Check out this video of the elk bugling in Mammoth.
The Mammoth Hotel Dining Room is the first 4-Star Certified Green Restaurant in the National Parks and there are only 25 restaurants who have scored this high in the country.
This means that this restaurant has shown a commitment to the environmental sustainability. 60% of the food Yellowstone restaurants use are from local farmers (within 500 miles of the park.), and hope to reach 70% by 2025.
Do yourself a favor and order the huckleberry lemonade and huckleberry cobbler. You’ll thank me later.
You can’t go wrong booking a reservation here. Our favorite thing about staying here was being surrounded by elk, one of the most popular animals of Yellowstone, and hearing them bugling from our window!
So, no more looking for where to stay in Yellowstone. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is it! Scroll through the photos below to see for yourself.
Helpful Hint: There are no TVs in the Yellowstone National Park hotels. There might be a few in the suites, but overall, no TVs. If this is important to you, download your shows and movies BEFORE heading to the park so you have access to them later.
North Yellowstone Attractions
There is so much for you to see and do when visiting Yellowstone National Park, and that’s why we’re only focusing on the northern range or loop in this post.
Between wildlife, soaking in the Boiling River, and the breathtaking Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, you’ll have plenty to do and see in the north Yellowstone area.
To not be rushed and to avoid the most crowded times of the day, I recommend two nights in the area. This allows you two mornings, which is prime time to be a Yellowstone tourist!
The Boiling River
Minutes from Gardiner Montana, the Boiling River is absolutely incredible! This is where a hot spring meets the cold waters of the Gardner River creating a hot tub affect. In my opinion, every Yellowstone guide should include this north Yellowstone landmark.
The Boiling River area is closed in the spring due to the snow run off, which causes the river to rise and become unsafe. However, the summers are crazy busy, so if you visit then, get there right when it opens.
It’s strongly recommended that you wear water shoes. The rocks in the river are slippery, so you want to protect yourself from falls. We saw so many people slip because they were barefoot.
When you first walk into the Boiling River, the water will be freezing! As you move over to the sitting areas, you’ll start to feel the hot spring pushing through. Don’t stop right when you feel the hot spring! You might feel tempted, because it’s so cold, but it’s crazy hot in that first section.
Instead, keep walking a little ways down until you find the perfect spot that’s not too hot or not too cold.
When you’re done, you’ll be glad that you added the Boiling River to your Yellowstone adventures! Here’s a quick video of the Boiling River in Yellowstone.
You can find directions to the Boiling River here.
Helpful Hint: The Boiling River is open from 7:00am to 6:00pm. To get a parking spot and avoid the crowds, get there at 7:00am! This is especially true for the summers. Park Rangers will ticket you if you park on the roads of the park.
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
Oh my gosh! The Mammoth Hot Springs are probably one the prettiest acts of nature I have ever seen. When you visit these hot springs, you will be leave with your jaw dropped!
A lot of folks describe this area as looking like an inside-out cave. However, I think it looks like melted candles. The formations of these limestone are otherworldly. Scroll through the photos below and tell me you don’t think of another planet.
There is a lower and upper terrace boardwalk that allows you to get super close the hot springs. If you walk all of the boardwalk, it’s .25 mile shy of two full miles.
When you start to write out your Yellowstone trip planner, make Mammoth Hot Springs a priority! You won’t regret it!
Folks from all over the world are planning their Yellowstone park vacations. One of the main reasons for their visit, is to hopefully get a glimpse of wildlife. Wildlife watching is a popular Yellowstone activity!
Lamar Valley is well-know for spotting bears in Yellowstone. Not only bears, but WOLVES! Seriously, the best of Yellowstone! During our morning hours in Lamar Valley, we saw a pack of wolves, a grizzly bear, bison, and a fox!
From Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Lamar Valley is about an hour drive, so make sure you plan ahead. Bring snacks or pick up a boxed lunch from the restaurant the evening before.
One last thing, you might want to invest in a spotting scope or a nice pair of binoculars for Yellowstone. We recommend this spotting scope bundle.
If seeing wildlife such as bears and wolves is a priority, consider one of many private Yellowstone park tours. Those folks know the park like the back of their hand.
Helpful Hint: To better your chances for seeing bears and wolves in Lamar Valley, get there before sunrise. We were told that Slough Creek Rd. is known to have a wolf den, and that’s where we lucked out.
The Roaring Mountain
The Roaring Mountain doesn’t quite roar anymore and it’s not talked about much either. However, this area has a large parking lot, and you won’t need to spend more than five minutes here.
Back in the day, the steam escaping the mountain roared. It was so loud that it could be heard from miles away. Today it’s more of a hiss, but it’s still cool to check out.
Additional Yellowstone National Park Information
Are you interested in possibly working at Yellowstone National Park? There are so many opportunities and they’re always looking for new folks to join their team. I mean, who wouldn’t want to LIVE in Yellowstone?!
Also, it’s so important to be safe when visiting the park. It’s not a zoo. The park is home to the animals and they roam freely. They can and will hurt you if you get too close.
When visiting Yellowstone park, please don’t throw trash on the ground. That includes cigarette butts. Leave the park the way you found it, if not better.
Yellowstone National Park Jobs
The park is always open to hiring new folks, but you have a better chance of getting hired if you apply before March. They try to get everyone hired before the busy season. For more information on jobs in Yellowstone National Park and even volunteer opportunities, follow this link.
Helpful Hint: It’s really cool to see where all the employees are from. Their name badges also list their home city and state, so it’s a great conversation starter.
Before you head out to Yellowstone, and really, any other national park, read over the Yellowstone Pledge. In short, it’s acknowledging park safety, keeping the park clean, and minding the rules that the park has posted throughout the grounds.
This should be a no-brainer, but we saw folks testing animals, parents allowing their kids to walk off the boardwalks, and not being careful when driving.
Y’all! Rules are in place for a reason, and people have died at Yellowstone for not obeying them. Teach your kids the value of following the rules. Not only does it keep them safe, but it teaches them respect for others’ property.
Also, don’t assume that because you’re on a populated trail that you won’t run into wildlife. Be prepared at all times. You’re not silly for buying and carrying bear spray. You’re being smart.
North Yellowstone Travel Recap
Now that you know the best place to stay in Yellowstone, at least in north Yellowstone, you can start by booking your trip! Knowing where you’re going to stay helps you further plan your trip.
Once your Yellowstone accommodations are booked, you can start planning your days in the northern part of the park.
You now know where to find wild animals, where to bathe in the Gardner River, and of course, where to see the famous Mammoth Hot Springs!
Pin below for later reference.