Places to visit near Yellowstone National Park ( cool, fun, western towns and unique places to visit)
Yellowstone is a fantastic national park to explore when you are visiting Wyoming. But, if you are also looking to see some other attractions or places to visit within short driving distance from the park there is a lot of cool and unique places to visit. Below are suggestions of places to visit near Yellowstone National park and cool places just outside the park area.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot of cool places to explore outside of the park area and we share all our favorite places and easy day trips to do below.
Why visit these places outside of Yellowstone National Park?
Even though there’s quite a lot of things to see in Yellowstone, the area just outside is historic with fascinating and unique towns, beautiful landscapes and one of a kind attractions that are worth visiting. If you have extra time to visit outside of Yellowstone, make sure you also plan some free time exploring the areas outside and you will be pleasantly surprised by some of these really cool places to explore. Up north of the park entrance is Livingston, to the south is the Grand Tetons National Park and Jacksonville. To the west you’ll find the cowboy city of Cody, Shosone National Forests and Pow Wow and to the west are the really cool towns of Nevada City and Viriginia City.
Things to do outside of Yellowstone area
There’s plenty of fantastic places to visit just outside of Yellowstone with historical interest, beautiful landscapes, cool western towns and fantastic wildlife to spot in the region. You’ll enjoy visiting these other destinations just outside of the park or a short day trip ride from Yellowstone. You’ll enjoy exploring all these other places to visit near Yellowstone National Park with some other historic treasures, national parks and other gorgeous landscape to explore below.
Here’s what to see near or just outside of Yellowstone National Park
Grand Tetons National Park
A very close drive from Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons National Park is a wonderful place to explore the national park and other cool places around the park areas with historic or cultural places of interest. There are some nice drives around the park along with scenic hikes worth doing around popular attractions that can only be accessed hiking through trails. For those just looking for scenic places to photograph, there is a map of attractions that can be followed on their handout of places to explore within the park area. For more images and details of the park experience check out this Grand Teton post here for more inspiration. One of the easiest attractions near Yellowstone that you can do on a day trip or longer to explore this other fantastic national park on a road trip.
Check out the Grand Tetons National Park visit below
A fun attraction near Yellowstone that you can do on a road trip is to Jackson Hole also called Jackson specifically for the city. A little over an hours drive from Yellowstone and just south of the Grand Tetons National Park is the trendy western city of Jackson Hole which has become a very upscale and trendy place to hang out and enjoy the Wyoming lifestyle and vibe. The city of Jackson is filled with chic restaurants, art galleries, trendy stores and shops, world-class hotels and other attractions you will find in first class type of getaway.
Explore the Jackson attractions and cool places below
Exploring Virginia City
One of the cool places to visit outside of Yellowstone is the historic area of Virginia City. Located on the western side of the Yellowstone National park along Highway 287 is the turnoff at Ellis for visiting the historic city of Virginia City which is a really fascinating place to explore. The city is actually an actual working city and an open air style museum combined that gives a real life and historical perspective and experience to an old-time city in Montana. Even though the city has more of a tourism focus, Virginia City’s main drag is well-preserved and fun to explore to see each establishment as it would look like during its active timeframe. This is a fun location to visit outside of Yellowstone and the scenic drive to get to Virginia city is spectacular with other towns along the way to enjoy.
Here’s a tour visiting the open air style museum of Virginia City
A living museum at Nevada City
One of the cool places to visit near Yellowstone on a road trip through the western part of the state is at Nevada City. Located in the southeast region of Montana and just a short drive west of Virginia city, is a very cool living museum. Developed as a typical western city in Montana, buildings from all around Montana slated for demolition were brought to Nevada city and saved by a thoughtful senator. Nevada City represents a typical Montana style town with the various businesses that would support this type of community in the state and a unique look into that lifestyle and business.
Another cool ghost town to visit at Nevada City in Montana
Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming
One of the cool places to explore on a road trip to the east side near Yellowstone National Park is the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis.There has been a lot of dinosaur bones discovered around the state of Wyoming and many of the finds are displayed at the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Located in the central Wyoming region west of the west entrance of Yellowstone park, The Dinosaur Center is a cool place combining a museum with beautiful exhibits, visits to current dig sites and activities and programs that actually let you take part in a current digging program with their ” Dig for a Day” program that lets you actively participate in a bone bed formed by an ancient stream that have been buried under layers of silt. To find out more about this program and visiting the center, check out this website here for more details and prices for the various programs.
A very cool dinosaur museum to visit below at Thermopolis
Western town of Cody
Located outside the western entrance of Yellowstone is the city of Cody which typically is like a real western town typical of Wyoming but still catering to a tourist crowd visiting the area and national parks. The downtown area is lined with cool galleries and stores with western motif and merchandising and just on the skirts of town is the very popular Rodeo that has events happening regularly throughout the summer and daily rodeos during the peak season. Cody is also an easy place to find cheaper hotel accommodations for staying in the area and also have easy access to Yellowstone National Park and the Shoshone National Forest.
Explore the ghost town of Cody Wyoming
Pow Wows at various Native American reservations around Yellowstone
Attending a Native American Pow Wow is an excellent way to understand the native Indians that live in the immediate area east of Yellowstone National Park. There are two active Pow Wows happening during the year that are open for visitors to attend at the Wind River country and is a fabulous opportunity to see the dances, music and other tribal traditions that mark these special events and are perfect photography opportunities to capture at the events.
There are other Pow Wows that also occur just outside of the park area in reservations, for more information about visiting and attending a Pow Wow, check out the website here for more details and information.
Pow Wows are popular events to experience in this part of Wyoming area
Visit the Shosone National Forest Reserve
The Shoshone National Forest Reserve located about 30 minutes east of the East side entrance to Yellowstone National Park is one of the most scenic national forests that is not on the radar of most visitors through this area but is also worth driving through especially if you stay in the areas around Cody.
The Shosone forest reserve offers gorgeous scenery and endless recreational activities for visitors from fishing, horseback riding, camping, hunting and hiking with over 1300 miles of trails created in the park and over 32 campgrounds. There are a few beautiful driving areas for scenic driving in the park worth doing for those with less time to explore the reserve. Check out the Shoshone National Forest Reserve information site here for more details and recreational activities available in the park area.
Check out the gorgeous Shosone National Forest below
Checking out the cool and hip spots around Livingston, Montana
On the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park right on the border city at Livingston, Montana – you’ll find a very cool and hip city and with a fun old city center worth exploring. Livingston has that old western vibe but updated with hip new eateries, shops and galleries and other fun attractions for visitors to enjoy while having a nice meal or just checking out the downtown scene. It’s very walkable and compact so you can spend an easy morning and meal visiting the city before heading out into the park or using Livingston as a base to explore Yellowstone and other popular attractions in the vicinity.
Yellowstone National park is definitely a must visit in Wyoming, but if you have more time to explore the beautiful countryside and other attractions outside of the park, there is plenty to do and see based on your interest in outdoor adventure, cultural and historic attractions and other scenic landscapes to explore outside of the national park.
Exploring cool Livingston, Montana below
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Conclusion to Visiting places around Yellowstone National Park
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Great tips for additional trips, we visited Yellowstone last year and loved it – as part of a trip up to Idaho to visit some relatives, though we regretted not having made more time to take in the surrounds – my Aunt and Uncle had incredible things to say about Grand Tetons National Park, and I’ve heard awesome things about Jackson Hole, especially the ski scene 🙂 Hope to get back!
Gosh, I haven’t been to Yellowstone since my teenage years! When we went, we spent a week exploring the area around the park in Montana and Wyoming. You’re right – lots to do and see! This was a great combination of trip down memory lane, and inspiration to get back to Yellowstone!
Noel, your gorgeous photos and helpful travel tips inspire me explore Yellowstone National Park & surrounding area. It looks like a wonderful destination for a family vacation.
On our cross-country move from Maryland to Seattle, we chose to visit Grand Tetons over Yellowstone (simply for logistics matters). I can vouch that it is a fantastic place and shouldn’t be missed in a shadow of its grander neighbor.
Yellowstone is a great place with exciting things to see and experience. We had a great time when we were there, of course due to time constraints, we could not expore many of the attractions around Yellow Stone. Now we know what we missed and would love to head back there and visit all of the places listed by you.
Great tips! We haven’t even been to Yellowstone yet, but lots of these places are on our list! Super helpful list!
Great tips! I have to say that the next time I go to Yellowstone I have to visit the Dinosaur Center! That’s so cool. I’m always amazed at how many people go to Yellowstone and never go to the Tetons. Both are stunning!
Yellow Stone NP has been high on my wish list for a really long time. Now I see that I need to budget more time for a trip to Yellowstone to include some of the awesome places you highlighted. I’d particularly love to visit Virginia city, it looks so charming. Of course the Grand Tetons National Park would be a must-do as well. Thanks for putting these destinations on my radar.
On my last cross-country road trip we blasted through the area and missed so much of this. I did love staying at the Grand Teton’s Lodge and hiking in that region. I could mosy about those towns for weeks on end. Lucky you!
Some fascinating places here and good to know there are plenty of things to do near Yellowstone. I would like to visit Jackson Hole in winter for the skiing. Sounds like a trendy place! The Dinosaur centre looks pretty interesting too.
Yellowstone is on the bucket list and I never knew there was so many other things to do near by. I had heard of Grand Teton and that’s about it. Thanks for giving those great recommendations.
We have some friends near Yellowstone. Hoping to see them soon so this will come in handy if we make it
I have always wanted to visit Jackson Hole. I think my kids would have enjoyed it too (probably better in the winter when the ski fields are open).
Nice that you’ve included some suggestions for around the Yellowstone area. We’ve wanted to go there for a while, but would make a whole trip out of it, so this is helpful info.
Terrific list of what to see near Yellowstone. I had the chance to visit Cody and attend a Pow Wow in June. We’re going back to Montana in a few weeks and will check out some of your recommendations. Thanks!