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Calling all adventurers! You probably already know that Cody Yellowstone boasts easy access to the world’s original national park, a sprawling natural wonderland offering 2.2 million wild acres and sights like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You probably also know that the drive from Cody to Yellowstone is an unforgettable experience, famously called one of the most scenic in the United States. Located just 52 miles west of downtown Cody, the East Gate of Yellowstone is your gateway to legendary outdoor adventures, cherished family memories, and breathtaking landscapes. 

Here’s the exciting news: the East Gate opens for the season on the first Friday of May, which falls on May 3rd this year. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Cody is hosting family-friendly festivities worthy of one of America’s most beloved destinations.

Bison near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

East Gate Opening FAQ

When does the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park open in 2024?

The East Gate of Yellowstone National Park opens on May 3, 2024.

How far is Yellowstone’s East Gate from Downtown Cody? 

The drive from Downtown Cody to the East Gate is around 52 miles.

Are there any special events in Cody that coincide with the East Gate opening?

Yes! Head over to the Cody Chamber at 836 Sheridan Avenue between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. for a complimentary celebratory pancake breakfast!

What to Do Before the East Gate Opens

Kick off your springtime adventure in Yellowstone with a delicious breakfast at our 10th Annual Park & Pancakes Breakfast! Celebrate with us at the Cody Chamber (836 Sheridan Avenue) between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. for free pancakes, bacon, fruit, coffee, and juice – the perfect fuel for a day of exploring Yellowstone. It’s one of our favorite days of the year, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you!

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Once you’re ready to head to the park, you can plan some must-see stops before you get to the East Gate. For example, you can stop by the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center to view an engineering marvel that has stood tall since its completion in 1910. The route to the East Gate is part of the East Yellowstone Loop, which features many of the region’s most impressive sights.

Where to Stay

Whatever your travel style, Cody Yellowstone offers the perfect basecamp for your Yellowstone adventures, with unique lodging options catering to every explorer’s spirit. Craving a Wild West experience? Saddle up at a dude ranch and immerse yourself in cowboy culture. History buff? Sink into the charm of a historic downtown hotel. Seeking a homey touch? Cozy B&Bs await. Cody Yellowstone boasts an amazing variety of accommodations to suit every budget and desire. If you’d like to stay as close to the East Gate as possible, consider Shoshone Lodge & Guest Ranch or Pahaska Tepee Resort, which are both located within five miles of the park. 

What to Pack (AKA What’s the Weather Like in May?)

A family goes for a hike in Cody Yellowstone

Much like our wild landscape, the weather in Cody Yellowstone can be unpredictable! But May brings along warmer temperatures, and it’s generally quite comfortable to explore outdoors, with daily average high temperatures of about 65 degrees. Make sure to pack enough to be prepared for any type of weather Northwest Wyoming could throw at you! You’ll want a good pair of hiking boots if you plan to explore our famous trails, parks and pathways. Plus, with winter having recently wrapped up, there’s a good chance melted snow has left things a bit muddy. 

If you’re unsure what to pack, we’ve got a guide for that! Check out our guide to packing for a Cody Yellowstone road trip. The wilderness is not a place where you want to play it by ear, so make sure to plan ahead so you don’t get caught in any sticky situations. 

What to Expect in May in Yellowstone

A baby bison running and a adult bison chases him

Yellowstone in May offers a chance to explore the park before the peak summer crowds arrive. Enjoy the space and discover the park at your own pace!

Springtime is also the right time to photograph Yellowstone’s cutest residents: baby animals! From bison calves (affectionately called “red dogs” because of their exuberant behavior and brightly colored fur) to black bear cubs and wolf pups, May and June tend to be the right time to spot the new additions to Yellowstone’s growing animal population. As always, it’s important to remember the dos and don’ts of wild animal encounters — you never want to get between a momma and her babies, so pack your binoculars and long-range lenses and keep your distance!

Remember to pack your photography equipment—there are plenty of places to bring out your inner Ansel Adams and capture stunning springtime shots. Are you more of a mobile phone photography enthusiast? Snap some memorable shots for your social media accounts and watch the likes roll in!

Where You Should Explore

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The choice of attractions to tackle during your Yellowstone adventure is entirely up to you. Yellowstone is jam-packed with sights – 2.2 million acres worth! But there are ways to see some of the most iconic attractions, even if you only have a day.

When you enter the East Gate, you’ll be treated to the park’s first dramatic mountain views along Sylvan Pass. Then you’re a short drive to the gorgeous Yellowstone Lake, the largest body of water in the park, which covers a remarkable 136 square miles with 110 miles of scenic shoreline. The gorgeous blue water shines brightly against the green of Yellowstone’s vegetation and provides lots of picturesque views with mountain backdrops. 

Yellowstone Lake’s northern tip gives way to the Yellowstone River. Here, you’ll find Fishing Bridge, offering breathtaking views of both the lake and river. Take a moment to soak in the majesty of the landscape. This spot is also a popular trailhead, making it a perfect base camp for a day of exploration.  Continuing along the Yellowstone Lower Loop leads you to many of the park’s crown jewels, including Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Old Faithful.

Make sure to plan ahead to get a chance to tackle everything you’d like to see while you’re there. Maybe start with the five must-see spots in Yellowstone and plan around that. Waterfalls, mountain hikes, wildlife experiences, and more — there’s always something spectacular to see, no matter what route you choose to travel through the park. 

Join Us for Yellowstone’s East Gate Opening on May 3!

Rainbows at Lower Falls on the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone National Park, WY, USA

Twenty Twenty-Four has been shaping up to be another spectacular year in Cody Yellowstone, and the opening of the East Gate to America’s original national park is a milestone that ushers in even more opportunities for outdoor adventure. Join us on May 3 for one of our favorite days of the year! And keep an eye out for official road information from the U.S. National Park Service by checking out their Park Roads – Yellowstone National Park page for the latest updates.