learn more at www.raftmontana.com
Wondering what airport to choose on a trip to Yellowstone?
There are many different factors to weigh when selecting an airport destination during the planning stage of a trip to Yellowstone. We will tour through a few of those below, like distance from the park and entrances served, but getting a good recommendation always goes a long way. So, we asked our social media followers, past clients, and everyone else who would vote, "what airport they would recommend for flying into Yellowstone National Park." Here is what they said.
Click here to take the "Best Yellowstone Airport Poll."
Distance from the park and closest entrance served
Bozeman, MT - Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
Jackson Hole, WY - (JAC)
Idaho Falls, Idaho - Idaho Regional Airport (IDA)
Cody, WY - Yellowstone Regional Airport (YRA)
Butte, MT - Bert Mooney Airport (BTM)
Salt Lake City, UT - Salt Lake International Aiport (SLC)
West Yellowstone, MT - Yellowstone Aiport (WYS)
Other resources on navigating the park entrances and open times here.
More on transportation options from the park service here.
More on choosing an airport for your trip here.
Located in Montana, 5 miles from the Idaho border and 2 miles from Wyoming, West Yellowstone is an important gateway destination for those touring Yellowstone National Park and the greater Yellowstone - Southwest Montana area. It is the closest park entrance to Old Faithful and other iconic Yellowstone attractions. It also offers easy access Big Sky, the Gallatin River, Hegben Lake, Quake Lake, and the Madison Valley area. If you will be driving to Yellowstone from Bozeman, Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, Idaho Falls, or are looking for activity options close to the Old Faithful Geyser area -- don't miss out on West Yellowstone! There is enough things to do within 30 miles of this town to fill a vacation and keep you coming back for years.
Timeless West Yellowstone Attractions
Old Oregon Short Line Railcar & Union Pacific Dining Hall (5 minutes drive)
Both constructed in the first decade of the 1900s they represent beautifully preserved relics of an age that birthed Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service. The Oregon Short Line was built to connect Wyoming to the Oregon Coast and was completed by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1884. Find out where it is from the historic West Yellowstone Holiday Inn here.
The Union Pacific Dining Hall is a huge structure that was built in 1925 to address the need for people touring the park to dine on their arrival. Originally they built smaller accommodations, but as demand for travel to the park steadily rose, Union Pacific built this monstrous hall with seating for 350 people. Read more about the lodge from the historic center here.
Earthquake Lake & Visitors Center (30 minutes drive)
Located North of West Yellowstone this is the site of what was, at the time, the second largest earthquake to occur in the lower 48 states. It measured 7.5 on the Richter Scale and caused a massive mountain side to collapse into the Madison River. The result was the creation of a new lake. Visit to see the awe inspiring magnitude of the event and the eery “ghost trees.” Read more about it from National Geographic here, from the Madison Valley Historical Society here, and get directions from the USFS here.
Yellowstone Historic Center (5 minutes drive)
Located inside the old Union Pacific Depot, you will want to stay all day to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the interesting history of the park. Do you think your trip here was crazy -- learn about the historical challenge of traveling to the park and how it has been overcome through time. Read more from the West Yellowstone Historic Society here.
Grizzly & Wolf Center (5 minutes drive)
One of Yellowstone’s most unique heritages is its large apex predators. One of the most important parts of a trip to the park is developing a respect and appreciation for these animals and their place in the ecosystem. And your place... The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is a great chance to learn more about them and how to avoid negative encounters. Learn more from them here.
Old Faithful (45 minutes drive)
Known as one of the top attractions in the whole United States, Old Faithful geyser never fails to burst… at least once every 60-90 minutes. When it does it lasts 1.5 - 5 minutes and expels 3,700 - 8,700 gallons of, very hot, water. You can read more about it from the National Park Service here.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (55 minutes drive)
One of the most breathtaking and often recorded scenes in the park, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone consists of the 109ft “Upper Falls” and a roughly 20 mile long gorged out canyon. It is truly a sight to behold and must be a destination during your drive through the park. Learn more from the National Park Service here.
Yellowstone Activities that We Recommend
Boundary & Riverside Hike and Ski Trails
Boundary Trail: Accessible from Boundary St. in West Yellowstone, the River this trail is dog friendly and a great option to get your pet out before entering the park. It also offers a great cross-country ski and snowshoe track in winter. Info from trails.com here and find it on google maps here.
Riverside Trail: Located at the intersection of Geyser and Obsidian Street in West Yellowstone this area is known for its superb groomed cross-country skiing. The high altitude and cold environment brings great snow to West in the winter. Only $40 dollars for a ski pass or $8 dollars a day in winter. Free in summer it is dog friendly and a great in-town trail option if you are staying close by. More from the USFS here.
A good vacation on the frontier might be incomplete if you don’t spend some time fishing on any of the world class trout rivers of Southwest Montana. West Yellowstone is surrounded by them. Visit the pro’s at Montana Troutfitters here. Or pick up a rod and some worms and head to the water… with a proper license of course.
This historic tour is the best way to understand the history of West Yellowstone, and how access to the park has evolved with this town. It will open up new perspectives on development of the area and the value of preserving our historic and natural resources. Get the guide here.
Our friend Georgia and her cowboys rodeo all summer and put on a great show. If they don’t have a great rodeo scene near you, you should be careful about leaving town without experiencing one here. It would be missing out on a vital part of the “Western American Experience.” Learn more from the Wild West Rodeo here.
West Yellowstone has the best show scene in Montana. Who knew, but if seeing a show interests you, definitely check out the Playmill Theatre. They are true professionals and put they never fail to have their passion on display during every show experience. See more from them here.
Yellowstone Aerial Zipline Adventure Park
Hard to know what to write here without seeming too biased, but our owners built this course because it would be a one-of-a-kind highlight opportunity for any Yellowstone vacation! So - you don’t want to miss experiencing our world class zipline adventure course. It was inspired by european aerial adventure courses to combine the popularity and thrill of 3000’ ft of zipline’s with 5 stories of complex and challenging acrobatic high ropes elements. We even created and patented a self belay harness system that gives you the freedom to navigate the course at your own pace while always being securely clipped to a static webbing/harness system. See more here.
Yellowstone National Park offers a huge number of recreational and experiential opportunities. As an epicenter of history, geology, and adventure there are many perspectives and ways of exploring the park that can provide important memories and experiences. This diversity is also part of what makes the park a great destination for groups of many types and sizes.
What kind of group are you bringing?
School groups can take advantage of the many educational opportunities in the park.
Wedding parties, reunions, and touring groups can always find something that will entertain and stimulate everyone in the park and surrounding areas.
With accommodations being plentiful when booked in advance and Yellowstone’s popularity as a destination this is a great place to plan a youth trip or retreat.
There is no better place to step away from the office. Americas first national park may be the best place to change the pace from the daily grind and introduce fresh air.
For a hundred years Yellowstone has been providing memories that have left a lasting mark on all of us. In the end, even the long car trips can be entertaining and... formative.
Some group activities allow for us to share experiences that can pay off for years. Here is our Top Three!
What kinds of experiences are you interested in for your group in Yellowstone?
Let us know by leaving a comment below, or email, tweet or message us!
We are excited to be a participating business in the Yellowstone Epic Pass to bring you the best value for family adventures in the West Yellowstone and Big Sky areas. The EPIC Pass includes a full day at the zipline adventure park, a 1/2 day raft trip on the Gallatin River including free wetsuit and bootie rentals, lunch, a bottle of water and sunglass straps! EPIC pass members also save on shopping and dining at participating businesses around Big Sky and West Yellowstone. Learn more here...
Thanks to Tyler Allen, Senior Editor at Explore Big Sky for the great article featuring our friends Ben Anderson and Noah Ronczkowski. These guys are the Big Sky ski-patrollers and entrepreneurs that run the Caldera Pizza & Grill here at Yellowstone Aerial Adventures.
More from Tylers Article below. Check out the full article here...
"Caldera is the first wood-fired pizza in West, and the patroller/pizza chefs are finding a niche by offering food made from scratch featuring regional and Montana products. They use Montana Wheat flour in their pizza crust, and regionally raised bison or beef in their burgers. The buns and bread products are delivered from Bozeman’s On The Rise bakery."
Tyler also talks about Ben's work as a ski-guide and how that led him to study culinary arts in England
"Anderson attended England’s Orchard School of Cookery in fall 2013, with the intention of rounding out SEABA’s culinary operation and offering his clients a better product, he said. Opportunities followed in Big Sky for personal chef gigs, and Anderson parlayed that into an all-inclusive tour company called Caldera Adventures, which offers trips in Haines, the big island of Hawaii and Big Sky, as well as Jackson, Wyoming."
We are really glad to have a staff family that loves what they do and the lifestyle it allows them to pursue here in Southwest Montana. Thanks so much to Tyler Allen for the article and to Ben Anderson and Noah Ronczkowski for bringing their pizza game to West Yellowstone and Yellowstone Aerial Adventures!
Read more about Caldera Adventures on their site here...
Check out more from Explore Big Sky here....
High flying thrills are aplenty this time of year at the zipline adventure park in West Yellowstone. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for great discounts and coupons to save on your next aerial adventures. A good place to start is our own coupon page . Check out our Facebook and Instagram feeds for last minute deal too!
You've never seen fireworks like this! The town of West of West Yellowstone has one of the best shows around and it all happens next to the zipline adventure park. We will be open a little later so families can fly through the air and enjoy the show from the course. We promise it will be the most memorable fireworks show your family will experience. Call to reserve! 406-646-5171.
West Yellowstone: Entrance to Family Fun
When you think of West Yellowstone, you think of cowboys slowly meandering down the dirt path, trusty steed by their side. Flash forward a century or so, and this little town has transformed itself into a family friendly oasis. Whether you need a family adventure, world class nature or a place to stop and relax, we’ve got four places ready for your family’s arrive.
Yellowstone National Park
Let’s just start with the big kahuna of parks. Yellowstone National Park is,
Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Yellowstone features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful. It's also home to hundreds of animal species, including bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope.
Beyond that, however, there are ranger led activities for you and your budding scientist(s), and even a ranger led astronomy course. (A must if you have yet to really experience western stars). Yellowstone is full of lodging, campsites and activities, it’s a family memory packaged and waiting to be given to you.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
Montana is full of some of the most powerful wildlife in the world. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center is a not for profit animal park where (you guessed it) wolves and grizzly bears that are no longer able to be in the wilderness serve as ambassadors of their species. The discovery center, in addition to allowing your family to safely view these incredible animals, has a raptor center, a naturalist cabin, a museum and several summer programs.
If you are a little outdoors weary, or want to share a different type of experience with your family—the Playmill Theater is well known for it’s family orientated productions, friendly people…and fudge. This summer they are producing, “The Foreigner,” “Damn Yankees,” and delightfully, “Mary Poppins.” Once you arrive, the company will introduce themselves, help you find refreshments (fudge. We cannot stress how important this is to the experience) and settle you in for a fantastic evening with your family.
Yellowstone Zipline Park
With an active family, it’s often hard to find an activity that fits a range of ages and abilities, luckily—Geyser Whitewater added to their family of fun and opened the Zipline Adventure park. The Zipline Adventure Park features over a 1000' of ziplining thrills on four different, family oriented ziplines. Even more exciting is the giant ropes course, featuring 49 challenge elements including spider webs, rope bridges, log bridges and much more. From 14' to 50’ off the ground, it offers an experience that will both thrill and challenge adventurers of all ages and levels. And…added bonus, it is self guided, so your family can move at their own pace.
When traveling to a new place with a family, the biggest question (after figuring where to best adventure with your favorite people) is “What’s here for the kids?” Granted, while Montana is best known for grizzly bears and big mountains full of snow, Big Sky fills up with a plethora of family friendly treats. Luckily, we've got a fantastic five set up for you right here.
5. Thanks to the Big Sky Arts Council, every Thursday night the meadow opens up the lawn for its free Music in the Mountains series. The kids can dance, you can sip a frosty beverage of choice and just let barefoot, easy, breezy summer happen.
Full Schedule of Bands
4. Bike Rentals. Big Sky is home to some of the most diverse biking trails in the area. One path meanders around town center, heads to the playground and back around. Ousel Falls is bikable, as well as the Porcupine Loop near Geyser Whitewater. The Hummocks and Upland trails opened this year, and cater to an older or more experienced family of bipeds. Regardless of how your family likes to pedal, bikes can be rented at Geyser. Bike rentals are also available at Grizzly Outfitters, but typically they cater to the more advanced bikers.
3. If you have a particularly social brand of child, Big Sky Resort offers Kid’s Club every day Monday- Friday from 4:00-6:00pm. With events like Mask Making Mondays, Goopy Oobleck Thursdays and Free Spirit Fridays, the kids are set up for an afternoon of chaperoned childhood perfection.
2. If hiking is your name, and your family is game the Ousel Falls Trail is a meandering 1.7 mile walk through pines, beside the water and ending at the impressive Ousel Falls. This hike was rated the Number One hike in Big Sky, and it stays true to its reputation. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a sneak peak at an elk or a brave kayaker taking the plunge. This trail can also be biked, although the final hill is more happily walked by little legs.
1. If your family is full of adventure and movement, Geyser Whitewater is right down the hill. They offer packages with Big Sky Resort, horseback riding with Canyon Adventures and the Zipline Adventure Park in West Yellowstone. The rafting trips vary in excitement from a relaxing scenic float to a rip-roaring adventure down the Gallatin River’s mad mile.
Lake Levinsky is also around for boating of the mellow variety. The Family Adventure Pass lets a family of four have unlimited access to the marina for a week. Canoes, paddle boats, stand up paddleboards, and kayaks (oh my).
Bonus Activity. For an extra treat, Sugar Buzz is our newest meadow business to pop up. And it’s a full service candy and ice cream bonanza. Be warned, the sugar heaven that awaits you in there is tempting to even the most seasoned sweet tooth.
If your family is into climbing, hiking, swinging, boating, laughing or music—have no fear—bring them to Big Sky and let the wild run free.