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.