Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (2024)

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (1)

Visiting Yellowstone and don’t know what entrance to use?

If you’re wondering about the East Entrance, you’re in luck, because I’ll cover the pros, cons, and many more things you need to know about the East Entrance to Yellowstone.

The East Entrance to Yellowstone is one of the least-used entrances because of its remoteness, lack of hotels by the entrance gate, and distance from the Grand Loop Road (where most of the attractions are). However, it is one of the prettiest drives to enter the park. Also, the closest city to the entrance is Cody, Wyoming, which is deserving of a day or two’s worth of activities itself.

Keep on reading to find out more!

  • Looking for a game plan to visit Yellowstone? We’ve got you covered with our Yellowstone Travel Guide. Our travel guide includes a step-by-step daily itinerary and will give you a game plan for seeing the park.

Table of Contents

How Many Entrances to Yellowstone Are There?

There are five entrances to Yellowstone. Although more than 90% of the park is in Wyoming, three of the entrances are located in Montana.

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (2)
  • Let us help you figure out Which Yellowstone Entrance is Right for You.

What is the Most Popular Entrance to Yellowstone?

The most popular entrance to Yellowstone is the West Entrance in West Yellowstone, MT. Yellowstone receives over 4 million visitors per year.

Regarding entrances, the park providestraffic counts(number of vehicles, not people).

Here they are,in order of popularity(most to least):

EntranceClosest Outside CityTraffic Count (2021)
West EntranceWest Yellowstone, MT833,709
North EntranceGardiner, MT482,467
South EntranceGrand Teton/Jackson, WY326,068
East EntranceCody, WY210,612
Northeast EntranceCooke City-Silvergate, MT130,248
Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (3)

What is the Closest City to the East Entrance?

Cody, Wyoming, is the closest city to the East Entrance. Cody is a small town of about 10,000 people but it has a BIG heart. Its residents are very proud Wyomingites who are authentically “western.”

The city was founded by Buffalo Bill Cody shortly after Yellowstone was set aside as a national park. Cody saw the potential for tourism, and he was right!

However, Cody is a poor “home base” for visiting Yellowstone, because it takes about an hour to reach the East Entrance of Yellowstone, and then another 45 minutes or so to get to the Grand Loop Road.

Cody, Wyoming: The Wild West Town

Should You Use the East Entrance or the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone?

If you’re coming from the East, you really can’t go wrong with the Northeast Entrance or the East Entrance. Both offer breathtaking scenic drives across the Absaroka Mountains into Yellowstone.

Here are the pros and cons:

East EntranceNortheast EntranceWinner
Scenic DriveBuffalo Bill HighwayBeartooth Highway or Chief Joseph HighwayNortheast (barely)
Closest TownCody, WYCooke City, MTEast
Nearby attractions inside the parkLake YellowstoneLamar ValleyNortheast

What Attractions are Close to the East Entrance?

One of the biggest drawbacks to the East Entrance is that there aren’t many popular attractions in Yellowstone that are close to the entrance. Here are a few sites of interest:

  • Avalance Peak Trail. This is a challenging 4.5-mile out-and-back trail that gets to a peak with 360-degree views.
  • Picnic areas. There are many picnic areas along the East Entrance Road heading into the park. These are located in really gorgeous areas, often near ponds and lakes, such as Sylvan Lake.
  • Lake Yellowstone. This isn’t really “close” to the East Entrance, as it is about 45-minutes away. But it’s the closest major attraction. There are trails overlooking the lake and some geyser formations bordering the lake. There are also hotels and restaurants located on the other side of Lake Yellowstone, which is a massive lake.
  • Fishing Bridge. This is a common spot to get out and look at Lake Yellowstone. People used to fish from the bridge, but it’s not allowed anymore.
  • Hayden Valley and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Again, these aren’t really close to the East Entrance, but they are located close to where the East Entrance Road meets the Grand Loop Road.

Before you visit Yellowstone, watch this Trip Planner!

Not sure which Yellowstone Entrance is right for you?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to Yellowstone’s entrances!

How Do I Get to Cody, Wyoming, and the East Entrance?

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (4)

To enter the East Entrance, you must go through Cody, Wyoming, first.

Getting to Cody and the East Entrance basically means driving through the ENTIRE STATE of Wyoming. It’s in a really remote part of the state (the entire state is incredibly remote anyway; it’s the least populated state in America).

There are no interstates that run even close to Cody, so getting there requires a variety of different state routes connecting dispersed, remote towns.

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (5)

Cody does have a small airport, called the Yellowstone Regional Airport. Despite its name, I haven’t talked to a single person who flew into Cody for their Yellowstone trip. Almost everyone flies into Bozeman, MT, Jackson, WY, or Salt Lake City, UT, which is one reason why the East and Northeast Entrances are the least-used entrances.

That doesn’t mean people don’t fly into Cody — I just haven’t talked to anyone who has.

What is There to Do Around the East Entrance?

Thanks to Cody, there are MANY things to do around the East Entrance. So many that I’ve written an entire article about Cody that you should check out.

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (6)

Besides visiting Cody, the most popular activities are outdoor activities like camping, horseback riding, rafting, hunting, and staying at resorts.

Are Tours Offered from the East Entrance?

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (7)

Some tour companies operate out of Cody, even though it’s 2 hours away from Yellowstone’s main sites (and then another 2.5 hours around the loop).

Most people who purchase a tour do so because they don’t have the time to research or maybe trying to figure out how to visit Yellowstone is daunting (MANY people tell me this!).

DON’T WORRY: We have you covered. I’ve created a detailed itinerary that will give you a step-by-step game planfor seeing Yellowstone. As an added bonus, I tell you all about the park. Basically, it’s like having me as your personal tour guide —only much cheaperthan an actual tour.

What is the East Entrance Like?

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (8)

The East Entrance has a small ranger toll booth.

You can pay your park entrance fee here — $35 gets your entire car into the park and it’s good for a week, or you can buy the $80 yearly pass that is good for any park for the entire year.

If you’re disabled, military, or have a 4th grader, you get the yearly pass for free.

You can also buy your pass online before you go.

What If I Get to the Entrance Before the Booth Opens?

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (9)

Yellowstone is open 24 hours per day. If you get there before the booth opens, you can just drive into the park.

If you haven’t purchased your park pass yet, just purchase it later when you see another booth or visitor center.

Please be honest and purchase your pass at some point. Yellowstone is one of the wonders of the world and it’s an honor to visit and only have to pay $35 for a carload for a week.

Is There a Visitor Center Near the East Entrance?

No, it’s much too remote to have a visitor center nearby. The closest one is the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, located at Fishing Bridge near Yellowstone.

Is the East Entrance Open in Winter?

No, because the East Entrance road/Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway is not plowed during the winter.

The East Entrance generally closes around November 1 and re-opens in May. In fact, it’s one of the last roads to be plowed in Yellowstone!

For more about when the roads are opened, please see my article When is the Best Time to Visit Yellowstone?

Not sure which Yellowstone Entrance is right for you?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to Yellowstone’s entrances!

Where Should I Stay Near the East Entrance?

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (10)

We don’t recommend using the East Entrance as a “home base” because it’s far away from the main attractions.

However, if you don’t mind a lot of driving and you’d rather stay in a remote area, you have some good options here. Keep in mind that lodging here is more about the beautiful location, NOT the amenities!! Most of these are cabin-style lodging.

There are many more resorts, RV parks, and hotels in or near Cody, Wyoming. See my Cody post for more information.

Where Should I Camp Near the East Entrance?

Inside the Park

There are no campgrounds close to the East Entrance, but there are some near Yellowstone Lake.

The closest campground is Fishing Bridge RV Park, located near Fishing Bridge.

The next closest is Bridge Bay campground.

If you’re considering camping in Yellowstone, make sure to check out my Yellowstone camping guide.

Outside the Park

There are many campgrounds located near the East Entrance that are outside the park. These are mostly run by the Forest Service. For locations and details, see the Shoshone National Forest (Cody) website.

Visiting Yellowstone and Need a Plan?

Yellowstone is BIG and COMPLICATED. I have been visiting Yellowstone my entire life. I know how to plan out a daily itinerary.

So, I did it FOR YOU! Do yourself a favor and check out my Yellowstone Travel Guide. With a plan in hand, you’ll have an efficient and successful trip! With that peace of mind, you can sit back and listen to me tell you all about the park as you drive around.

My 15-20 minute stories will tell you all about the bears, bison, and wolves of Yellowstone. You’ll learn about how it became a national park, how a guy survived alone in the park for 37 days, and about the dumb things people do in Yellowstone!

My audio guide is the most complete and interesting audio guide created for Yellowstone. It is included with the travel guide. Get them today!

Download Your Yellowstone Itinerary Now!


YELLOWSTONE TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Yellowstone National Park, check out our Yellowstone Homepage

ENTRANCES: Yellowstone has 5 entrances: The West Entrance, the East Entrance, the Northeast Entrance, the North Entrance, and the South Entrance. Learn which entrance to Yellowstone is right for you with our Free Quick and Easy Guide

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Yellowstone has to offer including Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and West Thumb and Grant’s Village

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn all about where to stay and where to camp when visiting Yellowstone and things to do in Cody, Wyoming, and other areas surrounding Yellowstone

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat including the Old West Dinner Cookout and also where to get groceries and eat picnics in Yellowstone National Park

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation or bear spray and binoculars, as well as tips for driving in and flying to Yellowstone

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Yellowstone National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Yellowstone YouTube Playlist

Yellowstone’s East Entrance (Cody, WY): Everything You Need to Know (2024)


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