Visitor Centers

Yellowstone has several National Park Service operated visitor facilities throughout the park. Exhibits cover a wide range of natural and cultural history subjects. Select a link below to find out about facilities associated with that park area and their functions.

Albright Visitor Center & Museum

The Albright Visitor Center and Museum—open seven days a week—was built in 1909. The visitor center is located at Mammoth Hot Springs, five miles inside the North Entrance and at the northwest corner of the upper loop of the Grand Loop Road. The visitor center and all the red-roofed, many-chimneyed houses down the street from it were built by the U.S. Cavalry during a time when this was “Fort Yellowstone,” an Army post dedicated to protecting the national park. Although the soldiers left after the Park Service was created in 1916, outwardly the old fort has changed little from the time of Army residency. Fort Yellowstone, comprised mostly of this block and the two rows of buildings behind it, is one of the best remaining examples of a 1900-era cavalry post.

The visitor center (formerly bachelor officers’ quarters) now houses a museum with its major theme being history: Native Americans (pre-1800), the mountain men (1807-1840), early exploration (1869-1871), the Army days, and early National Park Service. In early 1998, new exhibits with a predator-prey theme were installed upstairs.

Of special note are the Moran Gallery where fine reproductions of watercolor sketches by the painter and expeditioner Thomas Moran are displayed and the Jackson Gallery where original photographs by William Henry Jackson, also of the 1871 Hayden Survey, are exhibited.

There is a theater in the visitor center where Park Rangers show film and video presentations every half hour in summer and on request in winter. Films include The Challenge of Yellowstone (1979, 25 min) on the history of Yellowstone and the evolution of the national park idea and Thomas “Yellowstone” Moran (1997, 12 min) on Moran’s contribution toward the establishment of Yellowstone National Park and are shown year-round and Yellowstone Todayon orienting yourself to the wonders and activities Yellowstone has to offer during the summer (18 min).

The Yellowstone Association has a sales area near the information desk in the visitor center.

For more information, call 307-344-2263.

Summer Hours:  8AM to 7PM daily, Opens for the summer in late May.
Winter Hours:  Open daily: 9 am–5 pm

Canyon Visitor Education Center

The new Canyon Visitor Education Center, opened in 2006, provides a wealth of information and exhibits on the world of Yellowstone’s supervolcano—an idea that has captured the minds and imaginations of people around the world. For the first time, park visitors will see, hear, and learn how the Yellowstone volcano, its geysers and hot springs, and geologic history shape the distribution and abundance of all life found here. Explore these ideas through interactive exhibits, animations, audio-visual productions, and real-time scientific data.  The new Center replaces the original center built in 1958 as a part of the Mission 66Wprogram.

The unique exhibits include:

  • A spectacular new film on the geology of Yellowstone: Land to Life reveals how powerful geologic forces from fire to ice have combined to create a unique landscape which supports an abundant variety of life.
  • A room-size relief model of Yellowstone that illuminates and narrates the park’s volcanic eruptions, lava flows, glaciers, and earthquake faults for visitors on the first floor; from the second floor view, visitors can hear tribes associated with the park interpret the park’s geology from their tribe’s perspective.
  • A 9,000 pound rotating kugel ballW, which illustrates global volcanic hotspots.
  • One of the world’s largest lava lamps, which illustrates how magma rises to the earth’s survace by heat convection–one of the geologic forces that shapes Yellowstone.
  • Computer-generated exhibits displaying real-time earthquake and other geologic data exactly at the same time it is being collected in the park.
  • Murals and enlarged photographs showing the enormity of Yellowstone’s glaciers and their lasting effect on the landscape.
  • Detailed panoramas, dioramas, and cross sections of life in a lodgepole forest and a grassland—habitats made possible by Yellowstone’s fire and ice.

For more information, call 307-344-2550.

Summer Hours:  8AM to 7PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  Closed during the winter

Fishing Bridge Museum & Visitor Center

The Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center is located one mile off the Grand Loop Road on the East Entrance Road. Built in 1931, it is a National Historic Landmark. Its distinctive stone-and-log architecture, known as “parkitecture,” became a prototype for park buildings all around the country. The historic bird specimens (by Carl Russell) were installed in 1931, provide a good overview of the birds of Yellowstone. Other taxidermied animals include a grizzly sow and two cubs (formerly from the Canyon Visitor Center) and a family of river otters. Because there is no auditorium in this building and because there is no film, video, or slide show on the resources specific to the Lake District, we do not show any audio-visual programs in the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Museum. The East Wing of the building houses a large Yellowstone Association book sales outlet.

For more information, call 307-242-2450.

Summer Hours:  8AM to 7PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  Closed during the winter

Grant Village Visitor Center and Museum

The Grant Visitor Center and Museum is located on the shore of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake one mile off of the main park road at Grant Village Junction. The visitor center and development are named for President Ulysses S. Grant, eighteenth president of the United States, who signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The facility was constructed in 1976 and, along with the entire Grant development, was and is a controversial Yellowstone development due to its location in prime grizzly bear habitat (the area is the location of several major cutthroat trout spawning streams).

The visitor center hosts an exhibit that interprets fire’s role in the environment, using the fires of 1988 as the example. The movie Ten Years after Fire is shown on a regular schedule throughout the summer months. The Yellowstone Association has a sales area in the lobby of the visitor center.

For more information, call 307-242-2650.

Summer Hours:  8AM to 7PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  Closed in the winter

West Thumb Information Station

The historic West Thumb Information Station (built in 1931) also serves as a Yellowstone Association sales outlet as well as a meeting place for interpretive walks and talks during the summer season. During the winter, this facility serves as the West Thumb Warming Hut. Visitors can warm up, read interpretive exhibits on history and a variety of winter topics, and get their questions answered by an Interpretive staff person.

Summer Hours:  9AM to 5PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  During the winter, this building serves as the West Thumb Warming Hut.

Madison Information Station

The Madison Information Station dates from 1929-30 and is a National Historic Landmark. Located at Madison Junction in the Madison Picnic Area, it is built from wood and stone materials. The building sits near the site of the legendary campfire circle of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition. Although no evidence can confirm the authenticity of this tale, the legend gives us a strong theme for discussion of the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. In previous years, this building has been used as a museum, has housed the Arts Yellowstone program, and has sat empty and abandoned. It began its new life as an information station and Yellowstone Association bookstore during the summer of 1995. The station contains only touch-table exhibits at present, but plans are underway to design and install orientation panels. A wayside exhibit just outside the building commemorates the “campfire story,” and a commemorative plaque honors Stephen T. Mather.

For more information, call 307-344-2821.

Summer Hours:  9AM to 5PM daily (typically opens in early June)
Winter Hours:  Closed during the winter

Norris Geyser Basin Museum

The Norris Geyser Basin Museum is located 1/4 mile east of Norris Junction just off the Grand Loop Road. Built in 1929-30, it is National Historic Landmark. Its distinctive stone-and-log architecture became a prototype for park buildings throughout the country known as “parkitecture” (Fishing Bridge Museum and Madison Museum date from the same time period and are of the same style). New exhibits on geothermal geology, Norris Geyser Basin features, and life in thermal areas were installed in 1995. These exhibits replaced old ones from the 1960s with similar subject matter. There is no auditorium in this building, and it consists of two wings separated by an open-air breezeway. An information desk in the breezeway is staffed by National Park Service interpreters. An adjacent old restroom facility of matching architectural style houses a Yellowstone Association bookstore.

For more information, call 307-344-2812.

Summer Hours:  The facility is open 24/7, typically staffed from 10AM until 5PM from late May
Winter Hours:  Facility is open 24/7, with no interpreter available generally.

Museum of the National Park Ranger

The Museum of the National Park Ranger is housed in the Norris Soldier Station, located at the entrance to Norris Campground. This building was one of the original soldier stations, built in 1908, as an outlying station for soldiers on patrol. The building has been completely rebuilt, using original materials where possible and staying true to the original floorplan. The original building was taken down on site and rebuilt. Exhibits depict the development of the park ranger profession from its roots in the military traditions through early rangers and to the present array of NPS staff specialized duties. A small auditorium shows a laser-disc production of the 25-minute movie, “An American Legacy,” which tells the story of the development of the National Park Service. There is no Yellowstone Association sales outlet in this museum. The staffing is done primarily by retired National Park Service employees who volunteer for short periods of time. Many of these employees retired as superintendents, chief rangers, regional directors, and from various positions in the Washington office.

Summer Hours:  9AM to 5PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  Closed during the winter.

Old Faithful Visitor Center

The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center is being rebuilt.  The old center, built in 1958 as a part of the Mission 66W program, was far too small to provide space for exhibits and staff,  The new Center is expected to open in August of 2010.

The Visitor Center is in temporary quarters near the Old Faithful Lodge. Please look for signs or ask for directions upon arriving in the area. Evening ranger-led programs are presented during the summer and the winter seasons. The Yellowstone Association sales outlet here provides a large selection of their merchandise.

Visit the online Old Faithful Virtual Visitor Center.

For more information, call 307-344-2750.

Summer Hours:  8AM to 7PM daily (typically opens in late May)
Winter Hours:  Open daily, 9AM to 5PM

Tower/Roosevelt Area

The Tower District has no visitor center, museum, or formal interpretive contact stations.