Oh, how astounding Yellowstone National Park is! The mountains and wildlife, rivers and streams- it is all so grand. It is no wonder it is such a special place.
What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.-Andre Agassi
With so many personal and family memories at every turn, Yellowstone National Park is certainly a special place to countless visitors. And when a lover of the Park passes away, families will often consider it as a final resting place.
While there is a cemetery located at Fort Yellowstone, it is considered a national landmark and does not allow modern burials. If one wishes to eternally rest at Yellowstone National Park, the only option is to have one’s ashes scattered.
But before you take off and scatter ashes in Yellowstone National Park, there are a few things you need to know.
You Will Need a Specific Location for Scattering
Before you plan a day and time, you need to have a specific location for scattering identified. With approximately 3500 square miles of wilderness available, there are places considered “off limits” for scattering.
- Thermal areas are off limits for scattering.
- Areas in or near roads, parking lots, buildings and campgrounds are off limits.
If you are uncertain of where to scatter the ashes, or have mobility concerns, ask a park ranger. The National Park Service team is familiar with the most common areas for scattering and will have suggestions.
You Must Notify Yellowstone National Park of the Scattering
Once you have a location, day and time in mind, you MUST notify YNP of your plans. They will ask the exact date, time and location of the scattering. This is actually a great thing for anyone looking to scatter at YNP!
Firstly, they will ensure that no one else will be scattering at your location on your date and time. Scattering ashes at Yellowstone National Park occurs daily and scattering conflicts may exist.
Secondly, they will send a YNP Park Ranger to meet you at your location for the scattering. My family met a Park Ranger at a scattering location and learned a lot in our conversation.
- The Park Ranger is equipped with safety gear to keep scattering attendees safe.
- He or she will politely guide other hikers and visitors away from your scattering location for privacy.
You Will Need a Permit to Scatter Ashes in Yellowstone National Park
The very next thing you need to know is that, by Federal Law, you need a permit to scatter ashes in Yellowstone National Park. However, getting a permit is easy!
To obtain a permit you simply call, schedule and print this webpage. You must carry the printed webpage, which acts as your permit, with you to the scattering.
You Cannot Add a Permanent Memorial in Yellowstone National Park
If you choose to scatter at Yellowstone National Park, you will not be able honor your loved one with a memorial in the Park. This means you may not leave an engraved stone or tooled bronze memorial.
It is important to honor each legacy with a permanent memorial. And while you may be unable to do this in the Park, another great option exists. This option is to add a “cenotaph” at the cemetery of your choice.
What is a “Cenotaph”?
A “Cenotaph” is a fancy term for placing a memorial for someone whose body is not with it. For example, if you scatter someone’s ashes in Yellowstone National Park and erect a memorial for them at a cemetery, you have a “cenotaph”. Or a memorial for someone whose body (or ashes) is located elsewhere.
One of my favorite locations for adding a “cenotaph” for someone whose ashes are in Yellowstone is the Fir Ridge Cemetery.
Fir Ridge Cemetery
Fir Ridge Cemetery is a natural cemetery maintained by the town of West Yellowstone. I love this option for countless reasons!
First, this natural cemetery is a perpetual care cemetery. What this means is that you will pay a one-time perpetual care fee in exchange for perpetual grounds maintenance.
Second, at Fir Ridge you can purchase a cremation plot for $50 ($15 plot plus $35 perpetual care fee).
Third, the Fir Ridge Cemetery is easy to work with. For $5 and a little prior notice, you may add a flat marker on the cremation plot.
To begin creating a cenotaph marker for someone you love, click here for my FREE Memorial Creation Journal.