Yellowstone Giant Screen Theatre
Make plans to at least stop in to see the Yellowstone IMAX show. It is a great way to learn about the history of Yellowstone and how it was found and the studies they continue to do on it.
They also have new release movies and a couple other documentary films that also looked really interesting. They do have a snack station just like a regular movie theatre and an awesome gift shop if you want to pick up some Yellowstone National Park gear.
Learn How To Shoot A Gun
Guns are a massive part of the local culture of Montana. Nothing is more associated with the wild west than shooting guns.
If youre looking to check out some of the worlds most famous guns you should visit Yellowstone Big Gun Fun.
Visitors have an opportunity to view, and shoot, a wide variety of guns.
The gun shop includes a selection of pistols, revolvers, and fully automatic machine guns.
The popular shooting range attracts tourists from all over the globe to create a special experience not available elsewhere where they can enjoy and fire a vast range of guns.
They even offer gun rental packages based on different movies, such as James Bond.
Furthermore, the collection includes multiple shotguns, 40 revolvers, and expert staff on hand for safety!
Yellowstone River West Yellowstone Montana
The Yellowstone River is the last free flowing river within the contiguous United States, flowing the same way as it has for multiple centuries: untamed, in its natural state, and with no dams. Challenging, swift, cool, and clear, the river provides river runners and fishermen with some of the best waters anywhere in Montana. Floating and fishing are perhaps the two most popular activities to do along the Yellowstone River. Fascinating badlands scenery can also be seen along the river in Makoshika State Park or in Terry where people can easily see amazing rock formation during a scenic drive.
2300 Lake Elmo Dr, Billings, MT 59105, Phone: 406-247-2940
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Traverse The Yellowstone National Park
The hamlet of West Yellowstone is the nearest to Yellowstone National Park.
The West Entrance is located just under a mile from the city’s center.
West Yellowstone is among the most famous basecamps for exploring the park due to its closeness.
Yellowstone National Park, the country’s oldest national park, spans 2.2 million acres, having its own ecology.
Firehole Canyon and Madison Junction greet visitors entering via the West Entrance.
Firehole Canyon Drive offers magnificent vistas of lava flows as well as a pleasant spot to swim.
Best Things To Do In West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone is the most famous entryway city to Yellowstone National Park, located in southwest Montana between the Wyoming and Idaho border.
The park’s West Entrance is around a mile away, and the city borders it. The fact that Yellowstone is just 2.2 million acres away is reason enough to visit.
However, the attraction of West Yellowstone goes far beyond its closeness to the park.
The town is surrounded by thousands of square miles of national forest, plus the Greater Yellowstone area attracts adventurers all year.
Trails of various kinds lead from the town’s border into the vastness of Montana’s countryside.
In Montana, West Yellowstone is not a new vacation spot.
For years, the town has welcomed visitors, boosting the city’s economy, including restaurants, theatres, and a huge movie screen.
So you can expect to see lots of happy people here all year long, either on the streets or at the town rodeo.
Still confused regarding which places to visit on your trip to West Yellowstone?
Dont worry weve got you covered! In this article, we will be listing the top 15 best places to visit in West Yellowstone during your next trip.
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Watch Some Of The Finest Local Performers
It is hard to find a better way to spend the night than enjoying the local theatre. If youre staying in West Yellowstone, you should check out the classic Playmill Theatre. The theatre first opened in 1964, and 50 years later the theatre remains a pillar of the town!
There are numerous popular plays at the Playmill Theatre including Peter and the Starcatcher, Rodgers, Hammersteins Cinderella, and Disneys Newsies. Performances change on a year-round basis, so theres always excellent plays to watch.
Furthermore, there is a summer camp at the theatre which attracts many children from all over the local area!
Learn At The Museum Of The Yellowstone
Located at the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the Museum of the Yellowstone is a great place to spend the afternoon learning about the history of the west, the park, and the Yellowstone area.
Managed by the Yellowstone Historic Center, the museum focuses on the history of travel to and through Yellowstone National Park. From early explorers on horseback to the famous yellow stagecoaches, this museum has interactive exhibits featuring each mode of transportation and its impact on the region.
Their theater offers movies about Yellowstones transportation and also the geological history of the area including the 1959 earthquake near Hebgen Lake that dammed the Madison River and created Earthquake Lake.
The Museum of the Yellowstone also offers a walking tour that visitors can take through the old Union Pacific train depot and other historic sites around West Yellowstone. Located next to the west entrance, the museum is a fun way to explore the history and context of this geyser-filled park.
The West Yellowstone visitor center and gift shop are housed in the museum. The visitor center can provide you with more information about the park, hiking, and nearby activities.
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Check Out The Local Bear Population
Yellowstone is home to a vast population of bears and you can get a superb insight when you visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.
The centre is AZA accredited for its non-profit facilities that are dedicated to educating the world on bears and grey wolves.
All the animals at the centre are unable to survive in the wild, and thats why the staff work around the clock here to make sure the bears and wolves are healthy and strong. Plus, the centre gives you the opportunity to get close to numerous grizzly bears.
Besides, you dont just get the opportunity to see the areas most majestic nature because the centre has expanded to other wildlife, including birds and marine life.
Staying Inside Yellowstone National Park
There are many places to stay within the park during your Yellowstone Park vacation. If you are looking for somewhere of historical significance, look into the Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful Lodge Cabins. The Old Faithful Inn is arguably Yellowstones most iconic hotel.
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How Do I Get To West Yellowstone
One of the reasons West Yellowstone is the most-used entrance to the park is due to its accessibility.
Yellowstone is surrounded by mountains on three sides, forcing you to drive through the mountains to enter the park except for West Yellowstone.
For those coming from points West, the easiest route is on I-15 through Salt Lake City, Utah, and from there its a 5-hour drive to West Yellowstone a straight shot on I-15 and Route 20.
From those coming from points Northwest, they can choose the West Entrance or the North Entrance. To get to the West Entrance, theyll drive through Idaho Falls, ID, which is about an hour away from West Yellowstone.
Many people fly into Bozeman, MT to get to Yellowstone. From Bozeman, its about an hour and 30 minutes to the North Entrance, and about an hour and 45 minutes to the West Entrance. I believe most use the North Entrance, but you do have a choice.
Its also possible to fly into Salt Lake City, UT, and drive 5 hours to West Yellowstone. For some, the flight and/or rental car may be cheaper.
Another popular airport is Jackson, WY. If you use this youll drive through the South Entrance.
- Use booking.com to book flights and rental cars
Playmill Theatre West Yellowstone Montana
The Playmill Theatre in West Yellowstone, Montana, is a location where you can enjoy live performances while learning about traditional values and having a good time.
From the moment visitors are welcomed at the entrance and brought to their seats until the end of the performance, the theatrical cast offers an engaging and intimate experience.
The Playmill Theatre ensemble pleases and attracts spectators with the main play and various performances, in addition to a song-filled opening.
The theatre, which first officially opened in the Yellowstone region in 1964, offers excellent family fun even today.
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What Is The Number One Attraction In Yellowstone
The most popular and number one attraction in Yellowstone is the Upper Geyser Basin. Here you can see a large number of thermal features close to each other, including Old Faithful. It is home to the largest concentration of hot springs in the world and contains about a quarter of all geysers in the world.
The thermal features have such bright colors here and are one of the best things to see in Yellowstone.
Enjoy A Delicious Coffee
Go-Go Espresso Cafe is a great place to start the day with a cup of coffee.
Ernie’s Bakery and Deli, a few streets west, has a full brunch menu.
For quick lunch and breakfast meals, The Buffalo Bar is a neighborhood favorite.
Dinner choices are also plentiful, with pizza restaurants such as Petes Rocky Mountain Pizza at the number one spot.
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Overview Of The Regions In This Yellowstone Trip Itinerary
Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, with small portions of the park crossing over into neighboring Idaho and Montana.
Covering over 2 million acres, Yellowstone is one of the largest national parks in the United States. Theres no shortage of incredible things to do in Yellowstone, from geothermal features to waterfalls galore.
The parks massive lands are connected through the Grand Loop Road. This famous scenic highway forms a Figure 8, as you can see in the map below. Grand Loop Road is the primary route for most activities in Yellowstone.
The Grand Loop Road also connects the parks five entrances. The best way to enter the park will depend on where youre traveling from and what you plan to do within the park.
- West Entrance in West Yellowstone, Montana best all around as its only minutes outside West Yellowstone, Montana.
- North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana best for visiting Mammoth Hot Springs and flying in from Bozeman
- Northeast Entrance in Cooke City, Montana best for visiting Lamar Valley and driving the Beartooth Highway and flying into Billings
- East Entrance near Wapiti, Wyoming best for visiting Yellowstone Lake and flying into Cody
- South Entrance near Moran, Wyoming best for those also visiting Grand Teton National Park or flying into Jackson Hole
Another must-visit area of Yellowstone is Canyon Village. This region is home to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Hayden Valley.
Raft The Gallatin River
Located a short drive north of West Yellowstone, the Gallatin River offers a variety of whitewater rafting opportunities. Those seeking a scenic float can enjoy a gentle Class I-II cruise, while thrill-seekers can undertake Class III-IV whitewater rapids. The most popular option, Class II-III, offers a bit of both and is perfect for families, with a few good soakings and plenty of relaxation in between. Choose from four different rafting outfitters providing trips on the river.
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What Is The West Entrance Like
West Entrance Pay Booth
There are park ranger toll booths at the West Entrance, just like the other entrances. Only this one has more booths to move people through more quickly.
Still, long lines do form at the entrance, so you want to avoid entering the park between 9 am and noon usually.
You can pay your park entrance fee here $35 gets your entire car into the park and its good for a week, or you can buy the $80 yearly pass that is good for any park for the entire year.
If youre disabled, military, or have a 4th grader, you get the yearly pass for free.
You can also buy your pass online before you go.
30-second clip of us driving through the entrance, in case you want to see exactly what its like
Where To Stay In Yellowstone National Park
When planning your vacation to Yellowstone, you will find there are a number of lodging as well as camping accommodations. Availability in the park is limited and you need to make reservations well in advance. However, with some planning, it is totally doable.
Accommodations inside the park will be more expensive unless you are camping. However, staying in the park is so nice because it cuts out a lot of driving time. Staying in the park will make everything a lot closer which is a big deal in Yellowstone.
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Go Mountain Biking At The Lionhead
West Yellowstone is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of national forest, so there are plenty of mountain biking routes to explore.
Even during summer, the Rendezvous Trail System, famous for its skiing trails, melts out to become a popular mountain bike trail route.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest’s Lionhead region is another favorite riding location.
The Lionhead region, located south of the Madison River and Hebgen Lake, is renowned for its high-altitude routes.
The region has become a hotspot for mountain riding because of a mix of user privileges and devoted maintenance.
Almost all routes involve some rising, but the upward efforts are rewarded with spectacular views.
Freeheel and Wheel, West Yellowstone’s finest bike rental businesses, rent mountain bikes on an hourly or daily basis.
The bike shop’s helpful employees may also guide you in the way of some good trails.
For those who want to hit the road, Freeheel and Wheel also offer various road bikes.
Last Chance Stampede And Fair
Get ready to wrangle some fun at the Last Chance Stampede and Fair the last week of July. This longtime Helena, Mont., tradition ropes in top-notch talent, including 2018 headliner Dustin Lynch with special guest Tyler Rich, for its four-day, family-oriented rodeo festival.
In two action-packed hours every night, PRCA Rodeo award-winning announcer Wayne Brooks makes even the newest rodeo fans feel at home, explaining what is unfolding before their eyes.
Last Chance Stampede Rodeo
Held at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds and Exhibit Hall, locals say there isnt a bad seat in the house.
When you get hungry, be sure to veer over to the Kiwanis Club tent for a regionally famous Kiwanis Steak Sandwich.
Its the benchmark for how good the fair is, says local Mike Gurnett. You could own a five-star restaurant and come here and the Kiwanis sandwich would beat you.
In Sheridan, there are rodeo events all summer long, including the Sheridan-WYO PRCA Rodeo, Don King Days Old West Rodeo , cowgirls and county rodeos, youth and college rodeos and team ropings.
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Yellowstone In The Summer
During the summer months of June, July, and August, expect enormous crowds in Yellowstone. In fact, this was by far our most crowded national park experience yet .
To avoid the worst of the crowds, we avoided sightseeing midday . Kara and I would wake up very early and tour the park from 7 am to 11 am. We spent the middle part of the day at our hotel and then we would go back out at 5 pm. It worked very well, we were able to see most of what is one this list with low crowds, plus, we had a better chance to spot wildlife. The only downside is that we did a lot of driving.
What To See Where To Stay & Things To Do In West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone is the ideal place from which to explore Americas oldest national park
Americas oldest national park is also one of its largest. So picking an area of Yellowstone to focus your touring around can make it manageable. This guide to West Yellowstone should help you plan a special trip with enough variety to keep your travelers happy but not exhausted.
When I recently visited, I was shocked that even during a pandemic, Yellowstone National Park was busy and many hotels inside the park were completely booked. I chose West Yellowstone for several reasons. It is very near the park entrance and there is lots to see and within a manageable drive. There was also a glamping resort I was interested in, just a few minutes from town.
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Is The West Entrance Open In Winter
Yellowstone shuts down in November to allow snow to build up on the roads. From December to February, it mostly becomes a snow park.
To access the park in the winter from West Yellowstone, you can book snow coach tours of Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. For a list of companies and details, see the park website.
The park then closes again in March so they can plow the roads. This remarkable process takes 2 months, during which the park gradually opens as the roads are plowed.
See my video below to learn about the seasons of Yellowstone, as well as the incredible snowplowing operation each spring.