The North Yellowstone region encompasses the park's north and northeast entrances and surrounding communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City as well as Gardiner and north through Paradise Valley. Just outside of the North Entrance, the town of Gardiner boasts the only year-round entrance to Yellowstone National Park for vehicles. The Yellowstone River flows right out of Yellowstone National Park, through the town of Gardiner and continues north through Paradise Valley. This river is ideal for fishing and rafting. Paradise Valley is one of the most scenic drives around, flanked by the Absaroka Range to the east and the Gallatin Range to the west and you won't want to miss a visit to, or overnight at, Chico Hot Springs. Head out the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone to encounter the small communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, offering a quaint variety of lodging options and restaurants. Just beyond Cooke City, travelers will find a dozen or so campgrounds, the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River, and eventually the scenic Beartooth Pass, leading into Red Lodge, Montana. In the winter months, Cooke City becomes a mecca for snowmobiling and backcountry skiing.
With warm and dry weather, the North Yellowstone region is bustling in the summer months, primarily from Yellowstone National Park visitors coming and going from the North and Northeast Entrances. Come fall, things start to slow down a bit, while sightseers and anglers will have their pick of the land and water. When the winter months hit, the region turns into a winter wonderland. The North Entrance at Gardiner is the only entrance open to vehicles in the winter months and visitors can travel from Mammoth Hot Springs along the northern portion of the upper loop until Cooke City. East of Cooke City, and Beartooth Pass, is closed to winter travel. Accessing the region is easiest through larger hubs like Bozeman or Billings where regional airports and myriad car rentals offer travelers cheaper options. Many chose to visit the area as a portion of a larger road trip, encompassing Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Jackson Hole.
Things to Do
Yellowstone National Park: This is an obvious pick as it is often the draw for many visitors in the area. From the North Yellowstone region, you can easily access highlights of the park including Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, and the Lamar Valley.
Yellowstone River: Flowing out of Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone River offers whitewater rafting in the nearby Yankee Jim Canyon and endless fly fishing opportunities throughout Paradise Valley.
Fly Fishing: The Yellowstone River is renowned for world-class fly-fishing, but nearby spring creeks like DePuy Spring Creek are where anglers find their happy places. Outside of the Northeast Entrance, the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone offers spectacular trout fishing.
Whitewater Rafting: Just outside of Gardiner, Yankee Jim Canyon is an 8 mile stretch with Class II and III rapids.
Chico Hot Springs: In the heart of Paradise Valley, Chico Hot Springs is a family friendly hotel, restaurant, saloon, and enormous hot springs pool.
Beartooth Pass: Known as "the most scenic drive in America", Beartooth Pass connects Cooke City to Red Lodge via dramatic switchbacks and high alpine terrain.
East River Road: This scenic drive navigates the eastern side of Paradise Valley, offering an escape from the busier main highway. From the East River Road, take in views of the Absaroka Range, have a picnic at Mallard’s Rest Fishing Access Site, or cast a line in the Yellowstone River.
Mammoth Hot Springs: In the northern portion of Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs are the primary attraction, encasing a hillside filled with limestone formations and flowing water. A boardwalk trail leads the way through this unique attraction.
Hiking: Grab a water bottle and discover a few of many nearby hiking trails. Knox Lake, the Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail, and Beaver Ponds are easily accessible from Gardiner, Montana.