Just outside of Yellowstone National Park's west entrance sits the aptly named town of West Yellowstone. This town survives on tourism to the park with many restaurants, lodging options, souvenir shops, and outfitters ready to guide you on your next adventure. Enter the west entrance of Yellowstone and immediately discover fishing hot spots along the Madison River, hiking along the Riverside Trails, wildlife viewing opportunities for elk and bison, and the Firehole River Drive and swimming area. Of course, if you head further into the park you'll find many more natural attractions worth exploring. In the heart of West Yellowstone, make sure to set some time aside to visit unique sites like the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and the IMAX Theatre, and take yourself on a self-guided historic walking tour of town. Just outside of town, Hebgen Lake and Henry's Lake offer camping, boating, and fishing. In the winter months, the park entrance is open to over-snow vehicles only making West Yellowstone a one-of-a-kind basecamp for exploring the park on snowmobile and snowcoach. The region is a popular snowmobiling destination, but is also known for ice fishing and cross country skiing.
In the summer, West Yellowstone is typically a destination along a Yellowstone National Park road trip. There is a local West Yellowstone Airport (WYS) with some regional flights in the summer. Otherwise, you can fly into one of three regional airports including Idaho Falls (2 hours southwest), Jackson Hole (3.5 hours southeast), or Bozeman (2 hours north). Rent a car or an RV from any of those destinations and start your journey around the park. There is no dedicated park bus system but local tour companies do offer guided tours if you don't feel like driving. Peak travel season is June through August, but anytime between May and September is great for enjoying summer activities. Park roads close in the fall and open to over-snow vehicles from December through March. Winters are often very cold and snowy.
Things to Do
Yellowstone National Park: The obvious highlight of coming to West Yellowstone is Yellowstone National Park. Summer visitors can enter and explore all the sites of the park on their own while winter visitors must join a snowmobile or snowcoach tour.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center: The wolves and grizzlies that live at the Discovery Center can't live in the wild so the center has created a contained environment that emulates their wild worlds. Open year-round, this attraction is great for all ages.
IMAX Theatre: Watch Yellowstone, The Movie and take in stunning videography of Yellowstone National Park. Or choose from one of many seasonal movie features.
Yellowstone Historic Center: Located in a historic train depot, this museum highlights old trains, stagecoaches, and the history of Yellowstone National Park.
Hebgen Lake: Just north of town, Hebgen Lake is great for camping, boating, or fishing. In the winter, ice fishing is a popular pastime.
Fly Fishing: Flowing through the outskirts of town, the Madison River is a favorite among anglers.
Island Park: Head southwest from West Yellowstone to discover the longest main street in the country. Attractions include horseback riding or hiking in Harriman State Park, floating or feed the fish at Big Springs Historic Site and River Trail, fishing the Henry's Fork, and a scenic drive to Mesa Falls. In the winter, Island Park turns into a snowmobiling Mecca.
Quake Lake: Northwest of town, this lake was formed by a huge land slide. Stop in the visitor center or rent kayaks and paddle through the eerie dead tree tops.