Set at the west entrance to Yellowstone
National Park, West Yellowstone is a friendly Western
town, surrounded by the park and the adjacent Gallatin
and Targhee National Forests.
The town is reached from Bozeman by taking Highway 191
through the Gallatin River Canyon. This fine scenic route
features some of the best river fishing on the continent.
The west gate to the park is northeast of Ashton, Idaho
via Highway 20. The town has a good supply of lodges,
motels, RV parks and nearby forest campgrounds. Virginia
and Nevada Cities are located 85 miles northeast of West
Yellowstone, providing a glance back into the gold mining
history of the state.
What to See & Do
Hebgen Lake Recreational Area features a
12,000-acre reservoir with good fishing, boating and
sailing. Rafting is available on the nearby rivers: the
Yellowstone, Gallatin and Madison. These three rivers and
the North Fork of the Snake provide excellent trout
fishing, as does Quake Lake (part of the Madison system),
north of town. Anglers will enjoy the International
Fly Fishing Center, located in the historic Union
Pacific Dining Lodge.
In 1959, a powerful earthquake rocked the West
Yellowstone Area, tumbling 80 million tons of rock down a
mountainside into the Madison River, blocking the river
and creating Quake Lake. The U.S. Forest Service operates
the Earthquake Information Center, beside Quake
Lake on Highway 287, northwest of town.
This is an ideal place from which to take day-trips to
several old mining towns, particularly Virginia
City and Nevada City. The two old gold rush
towns sit side-by-side on Highway 287, 85 miles from West
Yellowstone. In 1863, six prospectors discovered what
would become one of the most productive placer mining
districts in the world. In five years, Alder Gulch (in
the Tobacco Root Mountains) produced more than $30
million in gold. By 1874, 35,000 people lived in the
gulch. The two towns declined until they were ghosts,
until 1940 when Charles and Sue Bovey began restoring the
Today, the mining camps provide an excellent day-visit
or an overnight stay during summer months in the B and B
homes, a motel or campground. The Mount Vernon
Dredge is part of the River of Gold Mining Museum. It
was one of five dredges which scoured the gulch. There's
a functional saloon with adjoining cafe in Virginia City.
A fire in Nevada City did some damage but work has been
underway to restore the tiny mining camp. The Virginia
City Players stage 19th-century melodramas. A narrow
gauge railway line runs between the two "cities".
Yellowstone Historic Center
The museum, originally named the Museum of the Yellowstone, is located in the historic
Northern Pacific Railroad depot building, has
been remodeled and updated by the
Yellowstone Historic Center, which now operates and has renamed
One of the major focal points of the museum
is a sizable portion of a 15,000 item private
memorabilia archive, owned by Susan Davis of
Bozeman, Montana. The collection includes early
park souvenirs: postcards, pennants, games,
toys, and posters, and mineral deposit specimens
from the Mammoth Hot Springs. Taking natural
resources from Yellowstone is illegal, but was
permitted the early years of the Park.
The museum is open from mid-May to
mid-October, and the exhibits will change each
year. Information: call 406-646-1100 or go here
West Yellowstone Hotels
West Yellowstone operates a toll-free
central reservations line: 800-521-5241.
Stage Coach Inn
209 Madison Ave., (406) 646-7381 or toll-free at 800-842-2882
This full-service hotel has a western ambience
complete with a knotty-pine lobby and fireplace.
There's a spa with hot tubs and sauna,
coffeeshop, dining room and two lounges with
Brandin' Iron Motel
201 Canyon St., 406-646-9411
The spacious rooms here have queen beds,
refrigerators and cable TV. There's also indoor
hot tubs and a big lobby with a fireplace. Open
all year, near shops and restaurants.
Best Western Weston Inn
103 Gibbon Avenue, West Yellowstone 406-646-7373
This 2-story motel features standard and family rooms, expanded continental breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, outdoor pool (seasonal) There's a heated outdoor pool in summer
and an indoor whirlpool all year, plus a family
Yellowstone KOA Mountainside Campground
1545 Targhee Pass Highway, west of West Yellowstone
What used to be Lionshead RV Parkis now a KOA. It's located on the Targhee Pass road leading to te Idaho border. Amenities incude full hookups, free WiFi, cable TV (fee) and a snack bar.
Yellowstone Park West Entrance KOA
3305 Targhee Pass Highway, 406-646-7606
The same folks that own and manage the Mountainside KOA operate this second KOA in the same highway, six miles from the Yellowstone park entrance. Amenities are similar, with RV and tenting campsites and basic cabins.
Hebgen Lake Basin Campgrounds
These Campgrounds are located a few miles west of West Yellowstone, in the Gallatin National Forest, and operated by Hebgen Basin Campgrounds Inc., a concessionaire.
Campgrounds arelocated on the banks of Hebgen Lake or overlook Earth Quake Lake; others are a short distance from the Madison River.
The five campgrounds are less than 30 minutes to the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park, with large sites in wodded settings. Pets welcome, on leashes. For a map and other information, go here.
Inside the Park Camping
Campgrounds are located throughout Yellowstone National Park.
For information, go to our Yellowstone pages.