Yosemite Vs Yellowstone

Can’t decide between towering granite peaks and bubbling geysers? Yosemite and Yellowstone are the two titans of the National Park system and have contrasting landscapes. Yosemite is famous for its massive cliffs and stunning waterfalls. Meanwhile, Yellowstone is the oldest park and home to incredible geysers and hot springs. However, each park’s distinct wonders cater to diverse interests. Let’s find out which one fits your trip.

Yosemite vs Yellowstone – A Quick Comparison

Below is a brief comparison of Yosemite and Yellowstone below to get an idea of what each park offers.

FeatureYosemite National ParkYellowstone National Park
LocationEastern California, USANorthwest Wyoming, USA
Size748,436 acres2,219,791 acres
Elevation Range2,127 feet to 13,114 feet above sea level7,000 and 8,500 feet above sea level
Iconic LandmarksHalf Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite FallsOld Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs
Geological FeaturesGlaciers, Granite Cliffs, WaterfallsGeysers, Hot Springs, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
WildlifeBlack Bears, Mule Deer, Coyotes, Mountain LionsBison, Elk, Grizzly Bears, Wolves
Visitor NumbersAround 3,667,550 visitors in 2023Around 4,100,000 visitors in 2023
ActivitiesHiking, Climbing, Water Activities, CampingHiking, Wildlife Viewing, Camping, Fishing
Entry Fee$35 per vehicle (7-day pass)$35 per vehicle (7-day pass)
Visitor CentersMultiple, with educational exhibitsMultiple, with extensive educational resources

Yosemite vs Yellowstone – Location

Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California along the Merced and Tuolumne river basins. The park covers an area of about 1,200 square miles (3,100 km²).

Yellowstone National Park is primarily situated in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extends into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone covers an area of about 2,219,791 acres (3,468.4 sq mi; 8,983 km²), making it one of the largest national parks in the U.S.

How to Reach Yosemite and Yellowstone?

To reach Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, you can utilize various transportation options, including flying to nearby airports, driving, or taking public transportation. Below are the best methods to reach Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. 

Getting to Yosemite

The closest airport to Yosemite National Park is Fresno Yosemite International Airport. You can take a car service from the airport and drive to the park. If you want to visit by car, drive from Sam Francisco to Yosemite via Highway 120 or Highway 140. 

If you drive your car, it’s advised that you use the park’s shuttle service within Yosemite Valley owing to restricted personal vehicle parking. If you want to opt for public transportation, YARTS buses provide direct service into Yosemite, including the park entry fees in their fares.

Getting to Yellowstone

The easiest way to reach Yellowstone National Park is to fly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and then take Xanterra shuttle services from Bozeman to the Mammoth Hot Spring Hotel and Cabins. Also, you can rent a car at the airport and drive to the park.

Moreover, If you want to drive a car, plan your route according to the nearest entry point. For example, use U.S. Route 20 from the west, U.S. Route 191 from the southwest, U.S. Route 20 from the east, U.S. Route 212 from the northeast, or U.S. Route 89 from the north. Also, you should have a valid car pass to enter the park. 

However, to avoid driving, take a bus to West Yellowstone, Montana, from nearby cities like Bozeman, Montana, or Idaho Falls, Idaho. From there, you can rent a car or utilize local shuttle services.

Yosemite National Park vs Yellowstone – What Is the Best Time to Visit?

When planning your trip to Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons. During these times, you can expect milder weather, fewer crowds, and better conditions for outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing.

Visit Yosemite in May and September

The best time to visit Yosemite is in May for fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures, and impressive waterfalls due to melted snow. September is also ideal for pleasant hiking weather and fewer visitors, although waterfalls may be less abundant.

Visit Yosemite Between April to May

For Yellowstone National Park, late April to May and September through early October are optimal times. During these shoulder months, there’s mild weather, fewer crowds, and minimal road closures. However, July and August are popular despite larger crowds and warmer temperatures.

Yellowstone vs Yosemite National Park – What Are The Main Geographical Features?

Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks are famous for their breathtaking vistas, yet their natural treasures speak in distinct voices. Yosemite features towering peaks and cascading waterfalls, while Yellowstone is famous for its geysers and vibrant hot springs. 

Yosemite – A Home to Majestic Peaks and Cascading Falls

Yosemite National Park’s iconic landmarks include towering granite cliffs such as Half Dome and El Capitan, along with breathtaking waterfalls like Yosemite Falls. The park is also known for its lush valleys, meandering rivers, and dense forests. 

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One of its most distinctive features is the Yosemite Valley, carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. There you can enjoy unparalleled scenic views and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Yellowstone – A Land of Geysers, Wildlife, and Geothermal Wonders

Yellowstone National Park is home to the world’s largest collection of geysers, including the famous Old Faithful, as well as colorful hot springs like the Grand Prismatic Spring. 

Furthermore, its Grand Canyon showcases the park’s canyon walls and cascading waterfalls. Plus, Yellowstone’s terrain encompasses vast forests, alpine meadows, and expansive valleys, which are bison, elk, and grizzly bear habitats. 

Yellowstone Park vs Yosemite – What Activities Can You Enjoy? 

Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks provide a variety of activities for both nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Both parks offer exceptional activities, ranging from calm treks and animal viewing to adventurous rock climbing and picturesque drives.

Yosemite: Hike to Half Dome for amazing waterfall views! 

In Yosemite National Park, you can enjoy hiking on the Mist Trail and the trek to Half Dome and enjoy Vernal and Nevada Falls along with granite cliffs. Rock climbing enthusiasts flock to El Capitan. For a more relaxed experience, you can take a scenic drive through Tioga Road or Glacier Point for panoramic vistas. 

Additionally, nature walks in Mariposa Grove let you enjoy ancient giant sequoias. In winter, there’s also an opportunity for snowshoeing and skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area.

Yellowstone: See the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring

During Yellowstone National Park visit, you can hike to the top of Mount Washburn for panoramic views, or take a stroll through the Midway Geyser Basin to watch the vibrant Grand Prismatic Spring. For wildlife watching, head to Lamar Valley, a popular spot to see bison, elk, and even grizzly bears. 

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If you’re looking for something more relaxing, take a swim in Yellowstone Lake or go for a scenic drive along Firehole Canyon Drive. With so much to see and do, Yellowstone is a place where you can create memories that will last a lifetime.

Yosemite vs Yellowstone – Accommodation

Yosemite and Yellowstone provide a variety of accommodations. Below are the details for each park: 

Yosemite: Ideal for Various Accommodation Choices

To accommodate yourself in Yosemite National Park, you have various options inside and outside the park. You can choose luxury hotels like The Ahwahnee, traditional lodges like Yosemite Valley Lodge, or simpler options like tent cabins at Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp. Additionally, there are historic properties called Wawona Hotel and High Sierra Camps, which require reservations. 

Outside the park, you can find private lodging in nearby communities, cabin and vacation home rentals, campgrounds inside and outside the park, and RV parks like Indian Flat RV Park.

Yellowstone: Great for Park Lodging 

To stay in Yellowstone, you have lodging choices inside and outside the park. Yellowstone National Park Lodges operates nine lodges with over 2,000 rooms, available from late spring through fall, with Old Faithful Snow Lodge open during winter. Opting for park lodging offers proximity to main attractions. West Yellowstone is centrally located, and Gardiner near the North Entrance is also good. 

Staying outside provides more options, including Wi-Fi, air conditioning, swimming pools, and a wider selection of dining. For larger families, limited accommodations can host groups of five or more, with direct contact to Xanterra advised for specific needs. 

When planning, allocate 3-4 days to comfortably explore the Grand Loop and landmarks, with a minimum of two days each for Upper and Lower loops, while longer stays allow deeper park exploration.

Yellowstone National Park vs Yosemite – How Much Does It Cost?

While entrance fees and pass options vary, Yosemite’s range typically falls below Yellowstone’s, making it a more budget-friendly option for visitors. 

Yosemite Costs $15 – $80

Costs to visit Yosemite National Park vary based on the pass chosen:

Individual: $15 for 7 days

Motorcycle: $30 for 7 days

Automobile: $35 for 7 days

Yosemite Pass (automobile): $70 for 1 year

America the Beautiful Pass (automobile): $80 for 1 year, valid at all US National Parks and Federal Recreation Areas

Additionally, there’s a $35 entrance fee per car for seven days, or $70 for an annual Yosemite pass, and $80 for an inter-agency annual pass valid for all national parks.

Yellowstone Costs $20 – $3,926.81

Day tour: $335 per person

Vacation packages: $900 to $5,000+ per person for four nights

Entrance fees: $20 to $35 per person

America the Beautiful Pass: $80 for access to Yellowstone and over 2,000 federal recreation sites

Total cost for a week-long trip through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks: approximately $3,926.81.

Yosemite vs Yellowstone – Final Words

Yosemite and Yellowstone are awesome places to visit. Yosemite has big cliffs and beautiful waterfalls, while Yellowstone is known for its geysers and hot springs. If you want to enjoy hiking in a budget-friendly way and love mountains and waterfalls, give Yosemite a try. 

However, Yellowstone is calling your name if you love exploring wildlife and geothermal wonders. So, pack your luggage and select your adventure: towering waterfalls and bubbling geysers await!