A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Vail vs. Yellowstone National Park for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Vail or Yellowstone National Park? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Vail

Vail is a scenic, vibrant, and upscale ski town. Because it offers so much small town charm with a variety of activities, it attracts plenty of visitors for a good reason. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. Other popular activities here include live music, food, and hiking.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a world-famous, popular, and immense national park. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. Visitors also love the hiking.

Vail and Yellowstone National Park: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
  • Home to the Vail Ski Resort
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Old Faithful
Things to Consider
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Vail. Although Vail and Yellowstone National Park are both popular with visitors, Vail has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Vail is more popular for its skiing, food, nightlife, music, shopping, christmas markets, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Yellowstone National Park is known for its hiking and impressive beauty. Vail is popular for its world-class skiing, charming mountain town atmosphere, and adventurous outdoor activities. It is also home to The Vail Ski Resort. Yellowstone National Park is popular for its iconic geysers, breathtaking waterfalls, world-class hikes, and diverse wildlife.

How is Vail different from Yellowstone National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Yellowstone National Park and Vail. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Skiing?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is very popular for winter skiing. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a skiing destination.

If you're an avid snow skiier, Vail should be on your list. This ski town has produced its share of Olympians. Vail is the third largest ski resort in the US and it has 31 lifts and 195 runs. There are five different bowls that offer beautiful views.

Yellowstone National Park is not a skiing destination.


Is the Food Better in Vail or Yellowstone National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is a popular place for its restaurant scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for its local flavors and cuisine.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Vail area. The town has a diverse sampling of restaurants that include different ethnic options as well as taverns with comfort food. It's easy to find mountain-friendly restaurants where you can refuel during your ski vacation.

Yellowstone National Park offers some easy restaurants to choose from. This is a large park and there are a number of dining options available both inside and just outside of the park. Many places are seasonal so your options will be highest during the summer months. Like most national park venues, prices can be high and the quality is variable. It's recommended that you pack your own food and plan to picnic.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Nightlife?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is well known for its evening party scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Vail is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. Happy Hours start early, and then the partying can go late into the night. There are bars, lounges, breweries and live music that keep the atmosphere light and offer entertainment after your long day on the slopes. Do keep in mind that many places close or dramatically reduce their hours during the off-peak fall and spring months.

Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Music?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is a popular place for its music scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.

The music scene in Vail is active and vibrant. You can often find live music at Shakedown Bar, Bridge Street Bar, and the Red Lion.

Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.


Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Resorts?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail and Yellowstone National Park offer a relatively similar set of high quality luxury resort options.

Vail is known as a popular and fun resort destination. Designed as a resort town, Vail offers great accommodation. Nice resorts include Four Seasons Resort and Residences, the Ritz Carlton Club, and the Grand Hyatt.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Yellowstone National Park. It is a large national park, and there are several impressive lodges nearby. Reservations are recommended well in advance. Within the park, Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are all nice options.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Hiking?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a must-visit destination for hiking. Also, Vail is not as popular, but is still a nice ski town for the nearby hiking options.

People visit Yellowstone National Park specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The park is huge, and there are countless hikes throughout. From short strolls to lengthy endeavors, there really is something for everyone. If you want to see the geysers, some of the best hikes are Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail, the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Observation Point Loop, and the Lone Star Geyser Trail. For waterfalls you can check out Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, the North Rim Trail, and Fairy Falls Trail.

Vail is a popular spot for hiking. During the warmer months, this resort town is surrounded by world-class hiking trails. You can enjoy the wildflowers, search for wildlife, or take in the sweeping mountain views. Popular hikes near Vail include Booth Falls, Davos Trail, and Shrine Ridge.

Is the Shopping Better in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is well known for its shopping areas. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Vail. The cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques and ski shops that sell everything from evening dresses to outdoor gear. It's easy to pop into the many shops around downtown Vail and find anything you might need.

Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Christmas?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is very popular for its Christmas activities. However, Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas activities.

During Christmas, Vail is not to be missed. The town is a winter wonderland during the holidays. Check out the iconic Christmas tree lighting and wander through the fairytale streets.

Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Christmas Markets?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is well known for its Christmas markets. However, Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas markets.

Vail is a popular destination to visit Christmas markets. The town's Christmas Market is picturesque, and the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts.

Yellowstone National Park does not offer Christmas markets.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Families?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Yellowstone National Park is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Vail is a very family-friendly destination. With its world class skiing, rock climbing, ice skating, and ice cream, kids love this ski resort. The resort town has two terrain parks - Golden Peak and Avanti. Avanti is perfect for kids. It has small jumps, wide rails, and kid-friendly amenities. Golden Peak is designed for more advanced athletes. Vail also has nice beginner slopes that are great for kids.

Yellowstone National Park is a very family-friendly destination. Kids who enjoy the outdoors and exploring new environments will appreciate a visit to this park. The geysers are fascinating for everyone and the waterfalls are breathtaking. There are ranger shows and other activities that are great for kids as well. Make sure you stop by the Visitor's Centers.


Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Couples?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is very popular for couples. Also, Yellowstone National Park is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Vail makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples who enjoy skiing and outdoor adventure will appreciate everything that this ski town has to offer. There are nice restaurants, beautiful gardens, and plenty of romantic activities to choose from.

Yellowstone National Park is a great ski town if you're traveling as a couple. This park is a beautiful and romantic destination for couples who enjoy the outdoors. There are world-renowned hikes and breathtaking views. There are also lodges in the area that make for a romantic stay.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a must-visit destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Vail is not as popular, but is still a nice ski town for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Yellowstone National Park is extremely popular for backpackers. Backpackers will appreciate the campgrounds and affordable facilities that are found around the park. Reservations are recommended well in advance, particularly if you're hoping to stay inside the park.

Vail is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. This ski town isn't completely closed off to budget travelers as there are a couple of hostels around town.

Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is a popular place for its public transit. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Vail, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There is a free bus service through the area.

Public transit is quite limited in Yellowstone National Park. There is no public transportation service available in the park. There are private tour options available.


Is Vail or Yellowstone National Park a more walkable city?

Vail
Yellowstone National Park

Vail is very popular for its ease of walking around. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for its walkability.

Getting around Vail on foot is easy. The main downtown is pedestrian-only and perfect for popping in shops and restaurants.

Yellowstone National Park is not a very walkable ski town. This is among the largest national parks and a car is an absolute must if you hope to experience the different landscapes.

For even more information, also check out Is Vail Worth Visiting? and Is Yellowstone National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Yellowstone National Park or Vail?

How long in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Both Vail and Yellowstone National Park have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Vail has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Vail than Yellowstone National Park. In general, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Vail, and 5-7 days is enough time in Yellowstone National Park.

Families should spend more time in Vail than Yellowstone National Park. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Vail, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Vail than Yellowstone National Park. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Vail that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Vail than Yellowstone National Park if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Vail.


  • How many days in Vail or Yellowstone National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    Vail 3-7 
    Yellowstone National Park 5-7

One day in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Even though Vail is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the destination of Yellowstone National Park. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Vail is a small town where visitors enjoy the live music and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people visit for the skiing. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Yellowstone National Park is a fun place to experience. Most people visit for the hiking. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


Five days in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Vail is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have five days, this ski town makes for a great vacation. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here. It offers something for everyone.

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the stunning destination of Yellowstone National Park. This national park offers something for everyone. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

A week in Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Vail is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. Most people visit for the skiing. One week is usually enough time to experience most activities. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the world-famous national park of Yellowstone National Park. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Many people spend one week here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Because of this, one week is usually enough time for a trip here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, and The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Yellowstone National Park or Vail?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Vail is $291, while the average daily cost in Yellowstone National Park is $147. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Vail and Yellowstone National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Vail $174
    Yellowstone National Park $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Vail $348
    Yellowstone National Park $148
Compare Hotels in Vail and Yellowstone National Park

Looking for a hotel in Vail or Yellowstone National Park? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Vail


Hotels in Yellowstone National Park


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Vail Hotel Prices and Yellowstone National Park Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Vail $19
    Yellowstone National Park $37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Vail

Also for Vail, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Avon/Vail Valley to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer : $242
  • EGE Airport Roundtrip Transfer to Vail, Beaver Creek, and Avon: $233
  • Eagle Airport (EGE) to Glenwood Resorts Round-Trip Transfer: $155
  • Eagle County Airport to Breckenridge Keystone: Arrival Transfer: $94
  • Eagle County Airport to Steamboat - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $155
  • Eagle County Airport to Steamboat Springs-Round-Trip Transfer: $122
  • Eagle County Airport to Vail/Beaver Creek/Avon-Arrival Transfer: $116
  • Eagle County Airport(EGE) to Steamboat - Arrival Private Transfer: $78
  • Eagle County Regional (EGE) to Steamboat Springs-Arrival Transfer: $122
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Vail Airport EGE: $156
  • Private Departure Transfer to Vail Airport EGE: $128
  • Private Eagle County / Vail Airport Transfer to Vail: $299

Is it cheaper to fly into Vail or Yellowstone National Park?

Prices for flights to both Yellowstone National Park and Vail change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Vail $74
    Yellowstone National Park $46

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Vail $133
    Yellowstone National Park $34

Tours and Activities in Vail

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Vail.

  • Smartphone Driving Tour between Denver & Vail / Breckenridge: $9.99
  • Save the Mountain Escape Room Adventure: $45
  • Avon Segway Tour: $89
  • Vail Segway Tour from Vail Village: $89
  • Stand Up Paddle Board Colorado River Adventure: Guided Half Day : $98
  • Inflatable Kayak Adventure Colorado River: Half Day Guided Tour : $109
  • Bike Tour or Mountain Bike down Vail Mountain: $120
  • Dillon Marina & Shopping Tour: $267

Tours and Activities in Yellowstone National Park

Here are a few actual costs in Yellowstone National Park for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 5-Day Winter Yellowstone Wildlife Tour: $3,349
  • 6-Mile Geyser Hiking Tour in Yellowstone with Lunch: $182
  • DISCOUNTED*FAMILY FRIENDLY* Yellowstone”THE VOLCANO” Tour BY:CWA : $200
  • E-Bike Tours in Yellowstone National Park: $200
  • Early Morning Guided Kayak Tour: $125
  • Full-Day Guided Yellowstone Day Tour: $299
  • Lake Yellowstone Half Day Kayak Tours Past Geothermal Features : $135
  • Lamar Valley Safari Hiking Tour with Lunch: $182
  • Self-Guided Grand Teton National Park Driving Tour: $8.99
  • Small-Group Sunset Kayaking Tour on Lake Yellowstone : $150
  • Yellowstone 3-day Tour Round-trip From Salt Lake City: $1,088
  • Yellowstone 4-day Tour Salt Lake City with Airport Pickup: $1,168

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Vail $9.79
    Yellowstone National Park $19


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Vail and Yellowstone National Park, we can see that Vail is more expensive. And not only is Yellowstone National Park much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Yellowstone National Park would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Yellowstone National Park and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Vail would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Vail than you might in Yellowstone National Park.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Vail Expensive? and Is Yellowstone National Park Expensive?.