Yellowstone is a wilderness filled with natural wonders that are also potential hazards. There is no guarantee of your safety. Regulations are strictly enforced to protect you and the park's resources.
Avoid These Situations
Your visit may be marred by tragedy if you violate park rules. Law enforcement rangers strictly enforce park regulations to protect you and the park. Please help keep our contacts with you pleasant by paying special attention to park regulations and avoiding these problems:
Do Not Approach Wildlife!
You must stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes.
When hiking, be alert for tracks and sign and stay in groups of three or more people. The best way to avoid a bear is to take all necessary precautions to avoid surprise encounters. If precautionary measures fail and you are charged by a bear, you can still usually defuse the situation. Bear pepper spray is a good last line of defense and it is effective in more than 90% of the reported cases where it has been used. Become familiar with your pepper spray, read all instructions, and know its limitations. Bear pepper spray must be instantly available, not in your pack. But, remember, carrying pepper spray is not a substitute for vigilance and good safety precautions. Review both our backpacking page and our bear encounters page for important information on this subject.
COYOTES quickly learn bad habits like roadside begging. This may lead to aggressive behavior toward humans. Never approach or feed a begging coyote.
RAVENS have learned to unzip and unsnap packs. Do not allow them access to your food. Do not feed any animals. It harms them and it is illegal.
Attention Anglers and Boaters
We strongly recommend that safety gear, including helmet and high visibility clothing, be worn by all bicyclists. Park roads are narrow and winding; most do not have a shoulder or shoulders are covered by gravel. During April, May, and June, high snowbanks make travel more dangerous. Road elevations range from 5300 to 8,860 feet (1,615 - 2,700 m). Relatively long distances exist between services and facilities.
Motorists frequently do not see bicyclists or fail to give them sufficient space on the road. Drivers sometimes pass on hill crests, blind curves, or in oncoming traffic. Vehicles, especially motor homes or those towing trailers, may have wide mirrors posing an additional hazard. For more information about bicycling in Yellowstone, visit our bicycling pages or ask at a visitor center.
Bicycles and motorcycles present special hazards. Drive defensively and wear seat belts. Yellowstone has a mandatory seat belt requirement for all passengers. Be especially cautious of ice and road damage. Cool temperatures may occur at any time of the year. The maximum speed limit is 45 mph (73 km per hour) unless posted otherwise.
Important numbers to know while visiting
Did You Know?
The 1988 fires affected 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park. Five fires burned into the park that year from adjacent public lands. The largest, the North Fork Fire, started from a discarded cigarette. It burned more than 410,000 acres.