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Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT): Complete Traveler’s Guide

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An Essential Guide to Yellowstone’s North Entrance for Travelers

Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Do you want to witness the wonders of nature in one of the most iconic national parks in the world? 

If you answered yes, then you should definitely visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance, the gateway to the world’s first national park. 

Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, wildlife, and geothermal features. It covers an area of over 3,400 square miles across three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It has more than 10,000 geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles, including the famous Old Faithful. 

It also has the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, with over 60 species, such as bison, elk, wolves, bears, and moose. It also has hundreds of bird species, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. It is a paradise for nature lovers, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

But how do you get to this amazing place? And where do you start your exploration?

North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park | Yellowstone North Entrance

Well, that’s where Yellowstone’s North Entrance comes in. This is the only entrance that is open year-round, and it is located in the charming town of Gardiner, MT. Gardiner is the oldest and most historic entrance to Yellowstone, and it offers a variety of attractions, activities, and amenities for visitors. Whether you are looking for a day trip or an extended stay, Gardiner is the perfect base for your Yellowstone adventure.

In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT). We will show you how to get there, what to expect, what to see and do, how to plan your visit and some local insights that will make your trip unforgettable. 

So, buckle up and get ready for a journey that will take your breath away!

Table of Contents

How Many Entrances to Yellowstone Are There?

You might be wondering how many entrances there are to Yellowstone National Park, and which one is the best for you. Well, the answer depends on several factors, such as your location, your itinerary, your preferences, and the season. Yellowstone has five entrances, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here they are, in order of popularity (most to least):

West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

The West Yellowstone entrance, bustling and favored, leads to Old Faithful and the Lower Geyser Basin. Ideal for visitors from Salt Lake City or Boise, it’s summer’s busiest gateway. Expect congestion during peak times and holidays. Closed from November to mid-April due to snow, it’s less accessible in winter.

South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

The South Entrance, second in popularity for Yellowstone access, uniquely connects to Grand Teton National Park. Near Moran, WY, it’s the nearest gate to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Lake Area. Ideal for those traveling from Denver or Jackson, it sees heavy summer crowds and closes from November to mid-May due to snow.

North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

As the third most popular yet least crowded entrance, Yellowstone’s North Entrance in Gardiner, MT, is unique for being open all year. It’s near Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley, ideal for visitors from Bozeman or Billings. Home to the historic Roosevelt Arch, it boasts a variety of attractions.

Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

The Northeast Entrance, near Cooke City, MT, offers serene, scenic access to Yellowstone. Perfect for visitors from Red Lodge or Cody, it’s less crowded and provides access to the Lamar Valley and Absaroka Range. While beautiful, it’s more challenging to reach, especially in winter when Beartooth Highway closes.

East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

The East Entrance to Yellowstone, near Cody, WY, offers solitude and stunning landscapes like Hayden Valley and the Yellowstone Caldera. Ideal for visitors from Rapid City, SD, or Casper, WY, it’s the most remote and quiet, but also the least accessible, often closed in winter due to snow.

Still not sure which Yellowstone entrance is right for you?

Let’s understand with the help of a map of Yellowstone National Park’s Entrances:

Significance of Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT)

As you can see, each entrance to Yellowstone has its own pros and cons, and you should choose the one that suits your needs, and preferences. However, if you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, we highly recommend the North Entrance. 

Why? Because Yellowstone’s North Entrance has a special significance in the history and culture of Yellowstone, and it offers a lot of opportunities for fun and adventure.

As we mentioned already that the Yellowstone’s North Entrance is the oldest and most historic entrance to Yellowstone. It was established in 1872 when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act, creating the world’s first national park. The act stated that Yellowstone should be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”. The North Entrance was the only entrance to the park until 1883, when the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Livingston, MT, and opened the West Entrance.

Popular Visual Story: These are 8 Surprising Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park

What to Expect at Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT)

The North Entrance is a place that will make you fall in love with Yellowstone and make you want to come back again and again. The Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) is a great place to start your Yellowstone adventure, as it offers a lot of variety and excitement. 

This table provides a detailed overview of the essential features and attractions you’ll encounter at this unique entrance to the park.

FeatureDescription
Year-Round AccessThe North Entrance is open year-round, accessible by car, bus, or shuttle.
Closest City to the North EntranceGardiner, Montana
Entrance Station Hours and LocationLocated about a mile south of Gardiner. Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in summer, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter.
Roosevelt ArchIconic photo opportunity and welcome sign at the entrance.
Scenic RouteDrive along Gardiner River, view Boiling River and 45th Parallel Bridge.
Mammoth Hot Springs AreaMain attraction featuring travertine terraces, pools, and springs. Boardwalks and trails for exploration.
Historic DistrictVisit Albright Visitor Center, Fort Yellowstone Museum, Chapel of the Transfiguration, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.
Lamar Valley WildlifeKnown as the “Serengeti of North America” for bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, and bears. Drive along Northeast Entrance Road and explore trails like Specimen Ridge, Slough Creek, and Lamar River.
Guided Tours and SafarisAvailable for wildlife viewing and learning about animal ecology and behavior.
Convenience of Gardiner, MTOffers comfortable accommodation and necessary amenities for visitors.
This table offers a concise summary of key features and attractions at this distinctive park entrance.

How to Reach the Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT)?

If you are planning to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance Gardiner, MT, you might be wondering how to get there and what is the best way to reach them. 

Well, the answer depends on where you are coming from, and what mode of transportation you prefer. Here are some of the options you can consider:

By Car: Driving is the most common and convenient way to get to the Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT), as it gives you the most flexibility and freedom.

By Bus: Commercial bus services may be available from major cities like Bozeman to Gardiner. Check with local bus companies for schedules and availability.

By Air: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) is the closest major airport, located in Bozeman, MT. Just 96.2 miles away from the Yellowstone’s North Entrance.

The map below displays the Google Maps route from Bozeman, Montana, to Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance.

Scenic Journey from Bozeman to Yellowstone’s North Entrance

Explore the breathtaking scenery on the route from Bozeman, Montana, to the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park through this captivating, albeit lengthy, video. To enhance your viewing experience, we suggest setting the YouTube video playback speed to 1.5x. Witness the natural beauty and landmarks that make this journey an unforgettable experience for travelers heading to one of America’s most iconic national parks.

Activities and Must-See Attractions at Yellowstone’s North Entrance

The North Entrance is not only the gateway to Yellowstone but also the gateway to a lot of fun and adventure. There are so many things to see and do in and around the North Entrance, that you will never get bored or run out of options. 

Whether you are looking for nature, history, culture, or recreation, you will find it here. 

Here are some of the activities and attractions that you can visit when you visit the North Entrance:

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs, near Yellowstone’s North Entrance, is a breathtaking complex of ever-changing travertine terraces, pools, and springs. Marvel at their stunning, surreal colors and shapes, formed by mineral-laden hot water. Explore this natural wonder by walking along surrounding boardwalks and trails. 

Nearby, visit the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District, housing Yellowstone’s original park headquarters and oldest buildings, including the Albright Visitor Center and the Fort Yellowstone Museum.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley, known as the “Serengeti of North America” and located 20 miles from Yellowstone’s North Entrance, is a prime spot for wildlife viewing. This expansive valley teems with bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, and bears. 

Visitors can explore via Northeast Entrance Road, hike trails like Specimen Ridge, or join guided tours to discover the rich animal ecology.

Boiling River

Boiling River, located 3 miles from Yellowstone’s North Entrance, offers a natural hot tub experience where a hot spring meets the Gardiner River. Accessible via a half-mile trail from the parking area, visitors can find spots with comfortable water temperatures. 

Soaking is allowed only during daylight hours, and visitors must adhere to rules: wear a bathing suit, avoid soap or shampoo, respect others’ space, and minimize noise and litter.

Roosevelt Arch

The iconic Roosevelt Arch, standing tall at Yellowstone’s North Entrance, is a symbol of the park’s conservation and preservation. Constructed in 1903 and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt, this 50-foot-tall arch made of local stone embodies the spirit of the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act with its inscription, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” 

A must-see for visitors, the arch is perfect for memorable photos and offers informative plaques detailing its history and significance.

Hiking 

Hiking near Yellowstone’s North Entrance offers diverse trails for all levels, allowing exploration of hidden gems, fresh air, and a deep connection with nature. There are many hikes and trails for all levels and interests, from easy and short to hard and long. 

Some of the trails that you can try are:

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail

Easy, scenic 5-mile trail from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, looping around Beaver Ponds and Clematis Gulch, offering views of wildlife and landmarks; takes 2-3 hours.

Wraith Falls Trail

The Wraith Falls Trail, starting 5 miles from the North Entrance, is a 1-mile, 30-minute hike to a 100-foot cascade, offering views of Undine Falls, wildlife, and the Gallatin Range.

Bunsen Peak Trail

Bunsen Peak Trail, a 4-mile moderate hike near Yellowstone’s North Entrance, offers stunning views and takes 3-4 hours to reach the 8,564-foot summit.

Osprey Falls Trail

Starting from Osprey Falls Trailhead near North Entrance, this challenging 8-mile trail offers stunning views and a 150-foot waterfall, taking 5-6 hours to complete.

Other Activities to do from Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT)

Rafting

Experience the Yellowstone River’s thrill with rafting trips near Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT), offering fun, wildlife views, and bonding opportunities with family and friends.

Horseback Riding

Experience Yellowstone’s backcountry on horseback with outfitters near Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT), discovering hidden gems and learning park history with your guide.

These are just some of the activities and attractions that you can enjoy at Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT), but there are many more. 

Visit the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center for park archives, the Yellowstone Forever Park Store for educational materials, and the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce for local info and events. Engage in community activities like Gardiner Community Yoga, enjoy the Gardiner Montana Rodeo, experience the Gardiner Music Festival, and celebrate the Fourth of July with a parade, barbecue, and fireworks.

How long does it take to drive from the North Entrance of Yellowstone to other major attractions in the park?

The North Entrance of Yellowstone is relatively close to some of the major attractions in the park, such as Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt. However, the driving time may vary depending on the traffic, road conditions, and wildlife sightings. 

Here are some approximate driving times from the North Entrance to other major attractions in the park:

Major AttractionsApproximate Driving Times
Mammoth Hot Springs5 minutes (5 miles)
Tower-Roosevelt45 minutes (25 miles)
Norris Geyser Basin1 hour (21 miles)
Canyon Village1 hour and 15 minutes (36 miles)
Old Faithful1 hour and 45 minutes (51 miles)
West Thumb Geyser Basin2 hours and 15 minutes (67 miles)
Lake Village2 hours and 30 minutes (73 miles)
Fishing Bridge2 hours and 45 minutes (79 miles)
Grant Village3 hours (85 miles)
West Entrance1 hour and 15 minutes (55 miles)
East Entrance3 hours and 15 minutes (94 miles)
South Entrance3 hours and 45 minutes (104 miles)
Northeast Entrance1 hour and 15 minutes (52 miles)
Approximate driving times from the North Entrance

Planning Your Visit to Yellowstone’s North Entrance Gardiner, MT

If you are planning to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) you might be wondering when is the best time to go, where to stay, and how much it costs. 

Well, the answer depends on your preferences, your budget, and your availability. However, here are some general tips and information that can help you plan your visit and make the most of your trip.

Best Times of Year to Visit

Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) is open year-round, and each season offers a different and unique experience. 

However, some seasons are more popular and crowded than others, and some seasons have more challenges and limitations than others. Here are some pros and cons of each season, and what you can expect:

Exploring Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance during the Spring (March-May)?

This is a great time to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) if you want to see the park come to life after the long winter. You can see the snow melt and the flowers bloom, and you can also see the newborn animals and the migrating birds. You can also enjoy the mild weather and the longer days, and you can also avoid the crowds and the traffic. 

Exploring Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance during the Summer (June-August)?

This is the most popular and busiest time to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT), and for good reasons. You can see the park in its full glory and splendor, and you can also see the most wildlife and geothermal activity. You can also enjoy the warm weather and the sunny days, and you can also access all the areas and attractions in the park. 

Exploring Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance during the Fall (September-November)?

This is another great time to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) if you want to see the park in its colorful and dramatic transition. You can see the leaves change and the animals prepare for the winter, and you can also see the elk rut and the bear feeding frenzy. You can also enjoy the cool weather and the clear skies, and you can also avoid the crowds and the traffic. 

Exploring Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance during the Winter (December-February)?

This is the most challenging and adventurous time to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) and it is not for everyone. You can see the park in its frozen and snowy wonderland, and you can also see the most contrast and clarity of the landscape. You can also enjoy the cold weather and the quiet atmosphere, and you can also access some areas and attractions that are closed in other seasons.

Tips for Lodging and Accommodations

Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) offers a variety of lodging and accommodation options for visitors, ranging from hotels and motels to cabins and campgrounds. 

However, some options are more available and affordable than others, depending on the season and the demand. Here are some tips and information that can help you find and book the best lodging and accommodation for your trip:

Book Early: Lodging in and around Gardiner, MT, can fill up quickly, especially during the peak summer season. Make reservations well in advance to secure your preferred accommodations.

Variety of Options: Gardiner offers a range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, cabins, and campgrounds. Choose the one that suits your budget and preferences.

Inside the Park: Consider staying within Yellowstone National Park if you prefer to be closer to the park’s attractions. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and cabins are nearby.

Camping: If you’re into camping, there are campgrounds both in Gardiner and inside the park. Some campgrounds require reservations, so check ahead.

Check Seasonal Availability: Some accommodations may be seasonal, so verify if they are open during your travel dates.

Amenities: Depending on your needs, look for accommodations with amenities like restaurants, Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities.

Pack Essentials: Be prepared for varying weather conditions, especially if you’re camping. Pack warm clothing, rain gear, and essentials for a comfortable stay.

Park Regulations: Follow park regulations for camping and campfires, especially if you choose to camp inside Yellowstone.

Cancellation Policies: Understand the cancellation policies of your chosen accommodation in case your plans change.

What are the dining options near Yellowstone’s North Entrance?

You can enjoy a variety of cuisines and dishes at the restaurants and cafes near the North Entrance of Yellowstone. Some of the popular places to eat are:

  1. Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille
  2. Wonderland Cafe & Lodge
  3. Tumbleweed Bookstore & Cafe

Where can I find accommodation near the North Entrance of Yellowstone?

There are several hotels, lodges, and cabins that offer comfortable and convenient stays near the North Entrance of Yellowstone. Some of the best places to stay are:

  1. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
  2. Park Hotel Yellowstone
  3. Hillcrest Cottages

What are some of the camping options near the North Entrance of Yellowstone?

You can choose from multiple campgrounds with beautiful natural surroundings near the North Entrance of Yellowstone. Some of the camping options are:

  1. Yellowstone RV Park
  2. Mammoth Campground
  3. Sun Outdoors Yellowstone North

Information on Park Fees and Passes

Yellowstone park’s fee and the park pass are valid for seven days, and they allow you to access all the areas and attractions in the park. However, the park fee and the park pass vary depending on the type and the number of your vehicle and your group. Here are some information and details on the park fee and the park pass:

Park Fee & Passes

The park fee is the amount of money that you have to pay to enter the park, and it is based on the type and the number of your vehicle and your group. The park fee is as follows:

Private Vehicle: $35 per vehicle, regardless of the number of passengers. This applies to cars, trucks, vans, RVs, motorcycles, and bicycles.

Individual: $20 per person, if you enter the park on foot, by bike, or by shuttle. This applies to adults aged 16 and older. Children aged 15 and younger are free.

Park Pass: Options include the standard 7-day Yellowstone National Park Pass, the $80 America the Beautiful Pass for a year at 2,000+ federal sites, the Lifetime Senior Pass for $80 (62+), the free Lifetime Access Pass (permanent disabilities), and free Annual Military Pass and 4th Grade Pass.

Tips for Creating Itineraries from Yellowstone’s North Entrance

When crafting an itinerary for your visit to Yellowstone National Park from the north entrance, keep these essential considerations in mind to ensure a memorable and rewarding experience.

#1 Discover Cool Geysers and Historic Spots: Take time to explore Yellowstone’s amazing geysers, like Old Faithful, and historic places like Mammoth Hot Springs. These are the park’s special spots that show off its history and unique geothermal wonders.

#2 See Wildlife and Awesome Scenery: Don’t miss out on seeing Yellowstone’s wildlife and its stunning natural views. Plan to spot animals and stop at scenic spots to soak in the park’s beautiful landscapes.

#3 Get into Outdoor Fun and Adventure: Make your trip exciting by doing outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or fishing. These adventures let you experience the park’s untouched wilderness and create lasting memories.

These are some recommended multi-day hikes you can try:

  • Black Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail
  • Sky Rim Trail
  • Gallatin Crest Trail

By including these ideas in your plans, your trip to Yellowstone’s north entrance will be a fantastic and unforgettable experience.

Safety and Regulations for Visiting Yellowstone National Park from North Entrance

If you are planning to visit Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) you should also be aware of the safety and regulations that apply to the park and the town. The safety and regulations are designed to protect you, the environment, and the wildlife, and to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip. However, the safety and regulations are also your responsibility, and you should follow them and respect them. Here are some of the safety and regulations that you should know and follow:

Wildlife Safety

The wildlife safety is the most important and essential safety and regulation that you should follow in Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT). The wildlife safety is the safety and regulation that applies to the animals that live in the park and the town, such as bison, elk, wolves, bears, and more. The wildlife safety is as follows:

  • Do not approach, feed, or disturb the wildlife
  • Be alert and aware of the wildlife
  • Be prepared and equipped for the wildlife

Other Park Rules and Regulations

The park rules and regulations are the safety and regulations that apply to the park and the town, such as the roads, the trails, the facilities, and the services. The park rules and regulations are as follows:

Follow the speed limits and the traffic rules

The speed limits and the traffic rules are the safety and regulations that apply to the roads and the vehicles in the park and the town. The speed limits and the traffic rules are as follows:

  • The speed limit is 45 mph or less, depending on the road condition and the location
  • The traffic rules are the same as the traffic rules in the US, except for some exceptions

Stay on the boardwalks and the trails

The boardwalks and the trails are the safety and regulations that apply to the geothermal features and the wilderness in the park and the town. The boardwalks and the trails are as follows:

  • The boardwalks are the wooden or metal platforms that surround the geothermal features, such as the geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.
  • The trails are the paths that lead to the wilderness, such as the forests, meadows, mountains, and lakes. 

Respect the park and the town

The park and the town are the safety and regulations that apply to the environment and the culture in the park and the town. The park and the town are as follows:

  • The park is a natural and cultural heritage that belongs to everyone, and everyone has the right and the duty to enjoy and preserve it. 
  • The town is the community, and the society that lives and works in the park and the town, and everyone has the right and the duty to respect and support. 

Latest Update on Yellowstone’s North Entrance

Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) is the place that will make you fall in love with Yellowstone, and make you want to come back again and again. You will have a wonderful and memorable experience, and you will make memories that will last a lifetime. You will also learn a lot and appreciate the beauty and the diversity of Yellowstone, and you will also have a lot of fun and adventure. Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT) are places that you should not miss, and that you should visit as soon as possible. You will not regret it, and you will thank me later.

FAQ’s

What activities are available in Gardiner, Montana?

In Gardiner, you can engage in wildlife watching, go whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River, soak in the Yellowstone Hot Springs, hike to Emigrant Peak and Yellowstone Falls, take a scenic boat ride on Yellowstone Lake, go birdwatching in the wetlands, and explore downtown shopping and dining. Other activities include fly fishing, horseback riding, and guided tours like rafting on the Yellowstone River and private Yellowstone journeys.

What are some dining options in Gardiner, Montana?

Gardiner offers a range of dining options including locally owned restaurants such as Yellowstone Grill, Wonderland Cafe, The Corral, and the Cowboy Lodge and Grill, known for their casual American fare. These dining spots have become community staples for locals and tourists alike, offering a variety of dishes to cater to different tastes.

What accommodation options are there in Gardiner, Montana?

Gardiner has a large selection of hotels and motels for accommodation, including Yellowstone Village Inn, Yellowstone Riverside Cottages, Travelodge by Wyndham, and Hillcrest Cottages. These establishments offer a range of rooms, suites, cottages, and studios, some with full kitchens and community decks with stunning views. They provide comfortable lodging with essential travel amenities and are conveniently located near Yellowstone National Park.

What camping sites are available in Gardiner, Montana?

For camping, Gardiner offers options such as Yellowstone RV Park and Rocky Mountain RV Park, which provide full hookups, including cable and Wi-Fi. Tent camping is welcome at Yellowstone RV Park. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service operates designated campgrounds in the surrounding Custer-Gallatin National Forest, such as Eagle Creek Campground, offering basic amenities like pit toilets. Mammoth Campground, near Mammoth Hot Springs, is also a popular choice.

What activities are there to do near the North Entrance of Yellowstone?

Near Yellowstone’s North Entrance, you can visit Mammoth Hot Springs, explore the Mammoth Terraces, and take a dip in the Boiling River. Additionally, you can enjoy elk spotting in Mammoth and Gardiner, MT, and engage in various outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife watching, and exploring the iconic Roosevelt Arch. The area offers a range of experiences to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park.


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