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Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Yellowstone National Park

With the Fourth of July almost upon us, visitors should be mindful when visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Indeed, rule number one to remember: fireworks are prohibited in park boundaries. You’ll have to go outside the park to neighboring gateway communities to see fireworks.

Visitors are also reminded that campfires are only permitted in designated fire rings in Yellowstone’s developed campgrounds and in select backcountry sites.

Although there are no fireworks permitted in the park, Yellowstone is nonetheless a wonderful place to spend the Fourth of July, even if only for a few hours.

Indeed, to facilitate travel around the park, Yellowstone is temporarily suspending nightly closures on the road between Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth during the Fourth of July long weekend. According to a Yellowstone press release, the closure will be lifted July 1 through July 4.

Currently, the road is still scheduled to be closed at 10 p.m. tonight, June 30. It will reopen 7 a.m. Saturday, July 1. Regularly scheduled closures will resume 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 5.

If you’re looking for ways to enjoy a Yellowstone Fourth, we have a few suggestions:

1. Take the Firehole Lake Drive
Firehole Lake Drive, just north of Midway Geyser Basin, is really the only area of Yellowstone where you can see geysers from your car. And we mean really see, not just glimpse out the window as you speed by. From long-heralded majesties like Great Fountain Geyser and White Dome Geyser to quiet surprises like Firehole Spring and Pink Cone Geyser, Firehole has something for everyone. And while you can just drive through, there are portions where you can get out and get a closer view of features from the boardwalk.

2. Visit Fountain Paint Pots
Located quite close to Firehole Lake Drive, Fountain Paint Pots is one of our favorite basins. Comparatively small, it nonetheless packs a punch. Take, for instance, the titular feature, the Paint Pots, a veritable cauldron of churning, pink-white mud, or nearby Red Spouter. Fountain Paint Pots is also home to one of our favorite geysers, Clepsydra, which is Greek for “water clock.” Fair warning: it gets pretty congested by mid- to late morning, although the crowds generally cool down around evening time.

3. Lunch at the New Canyon Village Dining Areas
Gone is the cafeteria of yesteryear. Xanterra has completely redone the Canyon dining area, adding new casual eateries (M66 Grill, Canyon Eatery), cafes (Falls Cafe),, and an ice cream bar. There is an element of the past, however, in these brand-new renovations; the design palette reflects Canyon’s Mission 66 origins.

4. Visit West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin is a great place to visit when you’re looking for a little peace, compared to the bustle in other basins around the Park (especially the Upper Geyser Basin or Midway Geyser Basin). It’s also great if you’re planning on finding fireworks outside the Park but want a nice breather. On the Fourth, we suggest stretching your legs, admiring Fishing Cone and Abyss Pool, and taking in the tranquility and peace of Yellowstone Lake.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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