A thriving tourist town packed with shopping, lodging, and outdoor thrills
Yellowstone’s West Entrance is the park’s busiest, so it’s no wonder that West Yellowstone is a bustling gateway packed with dining, shopping, and attractions for travelers. Located just across the Wyoming border, West Yellowstone is a convenient entrance town for those coming from Idaho or western Montana, especially Missoula and Butte. Visitors will find lots of Wild West flavor, plenty of lodging, and a hub for outdoor activities in and around the park.
What to See in West Yellowstone
Downtown West Yellowstone features several square blocks of coffeeshops, casual dining spots, and lots of gift shops selling Yellowstone National Park memorabilia. Entertainment options are better here than in most other gateway towns—catch a show at the Playmill Theater, or study up for your park trip at Yellowstone IMAX, which shows a rotating series of movies about Yellowstone, wildlife, and pioneer history.
History buffs should head over to Yellowstone Historic Center for exhibits on park history, stagecoach travel, trains, and famous bears. Also visit the Quake Lake Visitor Center and learn about the 1959 earthquake.
Speaking of bears: The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center offers an up-close look at two of Yellowstone’s most iconic species (the animals here are rescues or captive-born).
What to Do in West Yellowstone
If it’s fun and you can do it outdoors, you can probably do it from West Yellowstone: Outfitters and opportunities for self-directed activities abound here. Water sports are big: Go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in Hebgen or Quake Lakes, or fly-fish the Madison or Gallatin Rivers.
You’ll also find miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the adjacent Gallatin National Forest. Come winter, 400 miles of groomed trails make West Yellowstone a hotspot for snowmobiling and snowcoach tours of the park; the groomed Rendezvous Trail System is also a magnet for cross-country skiing.
Eat & Drink
Travelers have myriad options in town, but favorites include Taqueria Las Palmitas (casual Mexican food served from a converted school bus), Café Madriz for Spanish fare, and kid-friendly Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon.
For something a bit more upscale, head to Serenity Bistro. Dessert? We like the huckleberry brownies and shakes at Huckleberry Anne’s.
Stay in West Yellowstone
Lodging and camping options include everything from big chain hotels to cabins, vacation homes, and camping.