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West Yellowstone, Montana

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 communities.

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 the museum.

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 entertainment.

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 restaurant.

Camping

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.

For details on nearby towns and attractions
Go to Bozeman | Jackson Hole
Yellowstone National Park

Montana Destinations

Bigfork

Billings

Bozeman

Butte

Gardiner

Glacier National Park

Great Falls

Helena

Missoula

Red Lodge

Seeley Lake & The Swan Valley

West Yellowstone

Whitefish

 


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