Yellowstone's Rules and Regulations

There are many rules and regulations designed to help ensure that the public and wildlife, as well as the myriad natural features and resources of Yellowstone, are kept safe and preserved for future generations to enjoy. Many of these regulations are included elsewhere in this website located under specific related topics. For example, rules and regulations regarding public interaction with wildlife, fishing regulations, backcountry camping, etc. are found in other “Resource Pages”. Also, campground regulations specific to each respective campground are found in the write-up about the campgrounds in their respective road sections.

 

The rules and regulations listed here are more general with application throughout the park and with most park visitors but are not all inclusive.
 

Where you can Bicycle in Yellowstone

There are limited locations where you can ride your bike in the park, designated as approved “bicycle routes”, include:

 

Mammoth Area

  • The abandoned railroad bed paralleling the Yellowstone River between Gardiner and the park boundary at Reese Creek. (5 miles)

  • Golden Gate service road between Golden Gate and Joffee Lake. (1.5 miles)

  • Mammoth service road beginning at the top of the hill on the Old Gardiner Road above Mammoth running northwest to the telephone microwave station. (1.5 miles)

  • Old Gardiner road. (5 miles)

  • The foot trail paralleling the east side of the Grand Loop road, beginning in front of the Mammoth Restroom and running south to the YCC camp road.

  • The Bunsen Peak road. (6 miles) Swan Lake gravel pit road, six miles south of Mammoth. (1 mile)

  • Obsidian creek campground road, adjacent to the entrance to the Indian Creek campground. (0.4 miles)

 

Old Faithful Area

  • Lone Star Geyser road from the Grand Loop Road to the geyser parking lot turnaround. (2 miles)

  • The paved trail beginning in front of the Lower General Store to Morning Glory pool. (1 mile)

  • The lighted employee trail from Bitterroot dorm to the Fire Road. (0.4 miles)

  • Daisy Geyser cut-off to Biscuit Basin (abandoned service road). (1.4 miles)

  • Fountain Freight road. (3.5 miles)

 

Lake Area

  • Natural Bridge road near Bridge Bar. (1 mile)

  • The old roadbed between the Lake fish hatchery building and the transfer station. (1 mile)

 

Tower & Lamar Areas

  • Mount Washburn service road, from the Chittenden Road parking lot to the summit of Mt. Washburn. (3 miles)

 

West Entrance Area

  • Riverside trail from entrance area to Barns road. (1.4 miles)
     

Where you can Swim in Yellowstone and the Rules

The Firehole Swimming Area and the Boiling River Hot Springs Swimming Area have specific rules that apply They include:

  • It is prohibited to swim, wade, bath, soak, or in any way enter the Firehole Swimming Area or the Boiling River Hot Springs swimming area during times that the area except during times that the area(s) is posted as open.

  • The use of soap, shampoo, conditioner or any other substance while swimming, bathing, soaking, etc., is prohibited. Only the use of sunscreen is permitted.

  • It is prohibited to leave the designated trail system in any of the swimming areas, were fencing and signage prohibit such travel.

  • Possession of glass beverage containers in the Firehole Swimming Area is prohibited.

  • The use of flotation devices such as inflatable rafts and tubes, noodles, pool floats, or other water vessel are prohibited in the Firehole Swimming Area. Life jackets are allowed and recommended.

  • Climbing, diving, or jumping from the cliffs or from trees in the Firehole Swimming Area.

 

Boating Regulations

  • Boating season begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and extends through the first Sunday in November

  • Transporting or introducing invasive species is prohibited – boaters must clean, drain, and dry boats and gear before arriving for the AIS inspection.

  • Motorized boats are only allowed on Yellowstone and Lewis lakes.

  • All park rivers are closed to boating except for the section of the Lewis River between Lewis Lake and Shoshone Lake, which is open to non-motorized watercraft only.

  • Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and other non-motorized boats are permitted on all lakes except Sylvan Lake, Eleanor Lake, Twin Lakes, and Beach Springs Lagoon.

  • All vessels must have a US Coast Guard approved, wearable PFD (Type I, II, III, or V) for each person on board.

  • Vessels must not exceed 40 feet in length.

  • The use of jet skis, personal watercraft, airboats, submersibles, and similar vessels is prohibited.

  • Towing water skiers, wakeboarders, parasails, or performing similar activities is prohibited.

  • Swimming in Bridge Bay Marina Channel is prohibited.

  • Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips.

 

Pets

Activities with pets are limited in Yellowstone, and the following regulations apply:

  • Pets may only accompany people in developed areas and must remain within 100 feet (30.5 meters) of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds.

  • Pets must be physically controlled at all times: they must be in a car, in a crate, or on a leash no more than six feet long.

  • Pets are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas.

  • Pets may not be left unattended or tied to an object.

  • Pets may not be left in a situation where food, water, shade, ventilation, and other basic needs are inadequate. Pets may remain in vehicles for short periods of time, but we recommend that someone stay behind to personally ensure their well-being.

  • Owners must bag and dispose of pet waste.
     

Firearms

Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in Yellowstone. Hunting and the discharge of firearms remain prohibited in Yellowstone. Federal law prohibits firearms in certain facilities in the park (such as visitor centers and government offices) and such facilities are marked with signs at all public entrances.

 

Closures

The Park Superintendent may temporarily close park roadways, parking areas, facilities, waters, and all or portions of the park when such actions are deemed necessary to ensure public safety, protection of resources, or the avoidance of visitor use conflicts. The posting of signs, maps, media announcements, and the use of barricades and/or gates will identify such closures.

 

Wildlife Management area closures may affect areas and trails identified by on-site signs and/or maps posted in the Superintendent office. Area use may be adjusted seasonally and at varying restrictive levels depending on wildlife activity, available food, and/or park management operational needs.

 

Other Specific Prohibited Activities

  • Smoking is prohibited in geyser basins or on trails. There is no smoking in buildings or within 25 feet of building entrances.

  • Willfully remaining near or approaching wildlife within any distance that disturbs or displaces the animal. Hunting, feeding, and spotlighting wildlife are prohibited.

  • Traveling off boardwalks or designated trails in hydrothermal areas or throwing anything into them.

  • Camping outside of designated areas or disobeying campground rules.

  • Removing or possessing natural or cultural resources (flowers, antlers, arrowheads, rocks, etc.)

  • Use of drones.

  • Nude swimming, nude bathing, and nude sunbathing is prohibited in the park.

  • The use of gyroscopically controlled mobility devices in lieu of manual or motorized wheelchairs is allowed by persons with disabilities who would otherwise only have the option of using a manual or powered wheelchair. Specific conditions apply.

  • Boating, fishing, camping, cave entry, commercial backcountry trail use, commercial vehicle, etc. is prohibited without a permit.

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