Top Museums - 6 On the Way Plus 2 Inside Yellowstone

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While your trip to Yellowstone National Park will be packed with adventure, don’t miss some of the amazing museums on the way to the park. Full of fascinating exhibits, these museums will provide you with another perspective on the places you travel, as well as enable you to stretch your legs and learn something new. When you arrive, there are even more museums inside the park.

6 Museums on the Way to Yellowstone

On your road trip to Yellowstone, stop in at one of these gems before you get to the park.

1. Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming

Draper National History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Your ticket to the five museums housed in this center is good for two consecutive days ⎯ and you may find yourself lingering way longer than you imagined. Called “The Smithsonian of the West” by the late James Michener, the quality, hands-on exhibits housed in the Plains Indian Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Cody Firearm Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum and the Buffalo Bill Museum offer something for everyone. ( 307-587-4771)

2. National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming

Robert Bateman (Canadian, b. 1930), Chief. 1997. Acrylic on Canvas. 71 x 98 inches. Gift of Birgit and Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman (Canadian, b. 1930), Chief. 1997. Acrylic on Canvas. 71 x 98 inches. Gift of Birgit and Robert Bateman

Visitors often use the adjective “magnificent” to describe this world-class wildlife art museum that overlooks the National Elk Refuge just outside of Jackson. Among the more than 5,000 catalogued items are works from Ansel Adams and George Catlin, as well as artifacts from 2500 B.C. The Children’s Discovery Center has animal costumes, a hands-on Artist’s Studio, among other activities. ( 307-733-5771)

3. Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana

Dinosaur at the Museum of the Rockies. Courtesy photo


Calling all dinosaur buffs! Explore one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of dinosaur fossils in Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies just 90 minutes from Yellowstone. The collection, located at Montana State University, was put together by renowned paleontologist Jack Horner, who advised Steven Spielberg on the TV series Terra Nova as well as consulted for all Jurassic Park movies. Other attractions include a state-of-the-art planetarium, a fantastic regional history exhibit and short-term exhibits. ( 406-994-2251)

4. The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho

Big Potato Sign.

Big Potato. 

Discover more about your favorite road trip snack at The Idaho Potato Museum located in the old Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot in Blackfoot, Idaho. From an exhibit of Mr. Potato Head to a jacket made of potato sacks, you will learn about the history of potatoes, the agricultural process and quirky facts. Don’t forget to pick up a Darth Tater t-shirt in the museum’s small gift shop. ( 208-785-2517)

5. American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah

American West Heritage Center.

Travel back in time to experience life during the early frontier days at this interactive center. Volunteers dressed in period clothing reenact chores on a 1917 working farm, a Shoshone encampment, pioneer settlement and mountain man camp. Visitors can make period crafts, pet baby animals, go for pony rides and watch volunteers bake bread in a wood stove. ( 435-245-6050)

6. Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, Wyoming

Heart Mountain Relocation Center

For a moving lesson on civil rights and triumph of the human spirit, visit this one-time internment camp where 14,000 Japanese-Americans lived after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Photographs, videos and oral histories place you in the shoes of those who lived here. A monument commemorates those Japanese-American men who fought for the United States during the war. ( 307-754-8000)

Top 2 Museums Inside Yellowstone National Park

As you explore Yellowstone, stop in at one of the 10 visitor’s centers to see exhibits on natural history, wildlife and the people who have lived in and explored the area. Here are two highlights.

1. The Museum of the National Park Ranger

Museum of the National Park Ranger at Norris.

Museum of the National Park Ranger at Norris. 

Tucked in the northwestern part of the park, stop here to avoid crowds and learn about the history of national park rangers. Staffed by volunteer retired rangers, it features a 25-minute film and exhibits on the history of rangers in our National Parks. (Yellowstone's Norris Campground Entrance 307-344-7353)

2. Albright Visitor Center

Yellowstone's Albright Visitor Center.

Yellowstone's Albright Visitor Center. 

Check out the renovated Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs built in 1909. Featuring interactive exhibits, the center showcases the wildlife inhabiting the park’s northern reaches, as well as how the National Park Service and the park itself evolved. It's definitely worth stopping in here. (Yellowstone's Mammoth Hot Springs Area 307-344-2263)


Trail End State Historic Site, Sheridan, Wyomin

Wyoming Museums

Great museums to visit on your Yellowstone vacation from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to the Teton Flood Museum and everything in between. Wyoming museums in Casper, Meeteetse, Cheyenne, Gillette, Evanston, Dubois, and Jackson Hole.

Idaho Museum of Natural History

Idaho Museums

Visit the Rexburg Teton Flood Museum and the Idaho Museum of Natural History.

Utah Field House Dinosaur Garden in Vernal. Photo by InSapphoWeTrust

Utah Museums

Visit museums in Salt Lake City an Vernal for planetariums, dinosaur history, and western heritage exhibits.

Posing for a selfie at the Idaho Potato Museum

Idaho Potato Museum Southwest of Yellowstone

Get a great selfie next to a giant potato and discover the stories behind this unsung hero of a vegetable including VP Dan Quayle's potato incident.

Art from the National Museum of Wildlife Art. in Jackson Hole. Courtesy photo

National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson

Perched above the Elk Refuge and two miles from Grand Teton National Park, the National Museum of Wildlife Art features more than 5,000 items of animal art.

Chuckwagon dinner at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Smithsonian-Affiliated 5-Museum Complex

Watch your dinner get prepared at a chuckwagon. It’s one of many experiences at this Smithsonian-affiliated complex that’s home to world-class exhibits.

Dinosaur at the Museum of the Rockies. Courtesy photo

Jurassic Discoveries at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman

Jack Horner grew a dinosaur collection into one of the biggest in the country, but few know the story of the pioneering woman who co-founded the museum.

Apatosauruses and other dinosaurs roamed Wyoming

5 Top Places to See Dinosaurs in Wyoming

Discover the Wyoming landscapes and dinosaurs that inspired Disney-Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur on your next trip to Yellowstone National Park.

A young visitor experiments with one of Archimedes's creations at the Museum of Idaho

Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls

On the way to Yellowstone, encounter  world-changing inventions by a Greek mathematician.