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Easily accessible from the town of West Yellowstone


West Yellowstone, located in the state of Montana, is perhaps best known as the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The town has a rich history that is closely tied to the development and growth of the national park. Here is an overview of West Yellowstone's history:

Early Inhabitants: Before European settlers arrived, the region around West Yellowstone was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shoshone, Bannock, and Nez Perce. These indigenous peoples lived in the area for centuries, relying on the abundant natural resources of the land.

Exploration and Fur Trading: The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 passed near the Yellowstone region, but it wasn't until the mid-19th century that European-Americans began to explore and settle the area. The fur trade, with beaver pelts as a valuable commodity, attracted trappers and traders to the region.

Establishment of Yellowstone National Park: In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the first national park in the world. The park spans across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, with West Yellowstone serving as one of the main entry points. The establishment of the park brought increased attention and visitors to the region.

Railroads and Tourism: The arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1907 played a crucial role in the development of West Yellowstone. The railroad made it more accessible for tourists to visit the park. As a result, the town experienced growth, with the establishment of hotels, restaurants, and other services catering to visitors.

Expansion and Economy: Over the years, West Yellowstone has evolved into a gateway community for tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park. The economy of the town is heavily dependent on tourism, with businesses catering to the needs of park visitors, including lodging, dining, and recreational activities.

West Yellowstone Today: Today, West Yellowstone is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly those interested in exploring the wonders of Yellowstone National Park. The town has retained its historical charm, with some buildings dating back to the early 20th century. It serves as a base for activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

Overall, West Yellowstone's history is deeply intertwined with the development and popularity of Yellowstone National Park, and the town continues to be an important hub for those exploring the natural wonders of the region.

Top Tourist Attractions

West Yellowstone is a popular tourist destination, primarily due to its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Visitors to West Yellowstone can enjoy a range of attractions and activities. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in and around West Yellowstone:

  • Yellowstone National Park: The primary attraction is, of course, Yellowstone National Park itself. West Yellowstone serves as the west entrance to the park, offering visitors access to iconic features such as Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
  • Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center: This wildlife park and educational facility provides a home for grizzly bears and gray wolves that cannot live in the wild. Visitors can observe these magnificent animals in a naturalistic setting and learn about their behavior and conservation.
  • Yellowstone Historic Center: Located in downtown West Yellowstone, this museum showcases the history of the area, including the early days of exploration, the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, and the development of the town itself.
  • Museum of the Yellowstone: This museum offers exhibits on the cultural and natural history of the Yellowstone region. It provides insight into the geological features, wildlife, and the Native American and early settler history of the area.
  • Earthquake Lake Visitor Center: About 27 miles northwest of West Yellowstone, the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center tells the story of the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake that resulted in the creation of Quake Lake. The center offers exhibits, films, and ranger-led programs.
  • Horseback Riding and Outdoor Adventures: Many outfitters in and around West Yellowstone offer horseback riding adventures, allowing visitors to explore the scenic landscapes surrounding the town. Guided tours are available for various skill levels.
  • Snowmobiling and Winter Activities: In the winter months, West Yellowstone becomes a hub for snowmobiling enthusiasts. Guided snowmobile tours take visitors into the snowy wilderness surrounding Yellowstone National Park.
  • Fly Fishing: The rivers and streams in the area provide excellent opportunities for fly fishing. Anglers can try their luck at catching trout and other fish species.
  • Cycling and Mountain Biking: West Yellowstone and its surrounding areas have scenic cycling routes and mountain biking trails. Visitors can explore the natural beauty of the region on two wheels.
  • Shopping and Dining: The town offers a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can explore local boutiques for souvenirs, artwork, and outdoor gear. The dining scene includes a mix of casual and fine dining options.

These attractions showcase the diverse range of activities available for visitors to West Yellowstone, making it an appealing destination for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike.


West Yellowstone experiences a climate characteristic of the mountainous region. The climate is influenced by the town's elevation and its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Here are the key features of West Yellowstone's climate:

  • Cold Winters: Winters in West Yellowstone are cold and snowy. The town is at a high elevation, and temperatures often drop below freezing. Snowfall is significant, and winter sports enthusiasts, such as snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, are attracted to the area during this season.
  • Short Summers: Summers in West Yellowstone are relatively short, with mild to warm temperatures. Daytime temperatures can range from cool to comfortable, making it an ideal time for exploring Yellowstone National Park and engaging in outdoor activities. Summer is the peak tourist season.
  • Spring and Fall Transitions: Spring and fall serve as transitional seasons with varying temperatures. Spring can bring some unpredictability, with a mix of cool and mild days. Fall foliage is beautiful in the surrounding mountains, making it a visually appealing time to visit.
  • Elevation Influence: West Yellowstone's elevation is around 6,667 feet (2,032 meters) above sea level. The higher elevation contributes to cooler temperatures, especially at night, even during the warmer months.
  • Precipitation: Precipitation is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, with a tendency for more precipitation in the form of snow during the winter months. Summer months may see occasional rain, but overall, the region has a drier climate compared to lower elevations.
  • Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms are not uncommon during the summer months, especially in the afternoons. Visitors should be prepared for rapid weather changes and occasional afternoon thunderstorms, particularly if venturing into the park.

When planning a visit to West Yellowstone, it's important to be prepared for a range of weather conditions, especially if exploring Yellowstone National Park, which has diverse ecosystems and elevations. Visitors should bring layers, as temperatures can vary, and be aware of the potential for sudden weather changes, particularly in the mountains.


It is situated near the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park, which spans across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Here are some key geographical aspects of West Yellowstone:

  • West Yellowstone is positioned in the southwestern part of Montana, close to the borders with Wyoming and Idaho. The town itself is just a few miles from the border of Yellowstone National Park.
  • The town is situated at a relatively high elevation. The elevation of West Yellowstone is approximately 6,667 feet (2,032 meters) above sea level. The higher elevation contributes to cooler temperatures, especially at night.
  • West Yellowstone serves as the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The park is known for its geothermal features, wildlife, canyons, rivers, and diverse ecosystems. The town is a gateway for visitors exploring the park's attractions.
  • The Madison River, a renowned fly-fishing destination, flows near West Yellowstone. This river is known for its scenic beauty and abundant trout populations. Anglers often visit the area for fishing opportunities.
  • To the northwest of West Yellowstone lies the Gallatin National Forest, a vast and diverse forested area. The forest provides recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
  • The surrounding landscape is characterized by mountainous terrain, with various peaks and ridges. The town is nestled within a mountainous region, contributing to its scenic beauty.
  • Located northwest of West Yellowstone, Quake Lake (Hebgen Lake) was formed as a result of a major earthquake in 1959. This lake is a notable geographical feature, and the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center provides information about the earthquake and the lake's formation.
  • The Continental Divide runs nearby, marking the point where waters flow either to the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. This geographical feature adds to the natural beauty of the region.

The geography of West Yellowstone and its surroundings plays a significant role in making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists, providing access to the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas.