Gardiner, Montana is Where the Wild Things Are
Stay at the park’s North Entrance, Gardiner, Montana, for incredible outdoor recreation and a great local scene.
Locals in Gardiner, like to say Yellowstone’s north gate, just five miles down the road, is ‘nature’s favorite entrance.’ And while we can’t speak for the wildlife, it seems an apt statement. Elk wander the streets in summer and bison amble through town, in search of lower elevations as winter sets in.
This small but mighty town is also a favorite of visitors of the human variety who choose to stay in Gardiner for their Yellowstone vacation. One of the main reasons is the town’s close proximity to incredible outdoor recreation. With the Yellowstone River running through, getting out on the water is a must. Go on a whitewater rafting or float trip with local vendors like Flying Pig Adventures or Montana Whitewater. Or, enjoy the serenity of the river on its banks as you soak in Yellowstone Hot Springs, just outside of town. You can combine rafting with horseback riding through the gorgeous landscape with several companies on a Paddle and Saddles adventure. If you want to explore the park itself via saddle, book a tour with Yellowstone Rough Riders.
While it’s a quick drive into the park from Gardiner, renting an ebike from Big Sky or Gardiner rentals to go on a leisurely ride to Mammoth Hot Springs is a great way to spend the afternoon and see more. Keep watch for wildlife as you pedal to the alien-looking travertine terraces. Be sure to keep your distance to give animals like elk, bison and bears plenty of space.
In June 2022, historic floods in Yellowstone and the surrounding communities made national news. Gardiner, and the park itself, are open and back to normal, but months without tourism was hard on the town’s economy. The best way you can help? By spending your vacation dollars with local businesses. That’s easy to do as there aren’t any box stores or restaurants in Gardiner. When you shop at stores like the Gardiner Market or Gardiner Gifts, known for its huckleberry products, you’re supporting local families.
When it’s time for dinner, scan the QR codes posted around town to get the hours of local restaurants. Snag a table at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill for local fare like elk meatloaf and pan-fried rainbow trout. If you’re looking for a quicker option, head to Red’s Blue Goose Saloon. This former Gardiner staple burned down in 2020, but the lot has been re-imagined into a food truck park anchored by the outdoor bar. Order a Huckleberry Vodka Lemonade and grab a bite to eat from one of several food trucks. Expect live music in summer 2023. Three miles north of town, you’ll also find several trucks parked at the Gardiner Sinclair Station. Don’t miss Grizzly Grill, which has some of the town’s best vegetarian options, or Follow Yer Nose, for local barbecue.
Learn more at VisitGardinerMT.com.