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Gardiner is a small town located near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is the only entrance to Yellowstone Park accessible by car year round and has served as a home base for thousands of tourists visiting the area.

The Roosevelt Arch cornerstone was laid down by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. The top of the arch is inscribed with a quote from the Organic Act of 1872, the legislation which created Yellowstone, which reads "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People."


Gardiner was founded in 1880, but the area has served as a main entrance to Yellowstone National Park since its creation in 1872. The iconic Roosevelt arch stands as a symbol to the national and international importance of America's first national park. Grazing elk, bison and antelope are a common sight in the field right across from main street.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Gardiner is the only four-season gateway to Yellowstone National Park accessible from highway 89 S to the north and from Yellowstone National Park and Mammoth Hot Springs to the south.

By thumb[edit]

Hitchhiking is more common in the Yellowstone area than other parts of the country. It is still not considered a safe or reliable way to travel, but at major attractions and entrances of the park, pairs or even groups of hitchhikers are a common sight.

By plane[edit]

The closest airports are in Bozeman and West Yellowstone the Billings airport is also convenient.

Get around[edit]

Map of Gardiner (Montana)

Gardiner is small enough that it can all be reached on foot and several trail heads into the surrounding wilderness start right from town.


Pronghorn are a common sight across from main street

Gardiner is the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, it is divided by the Yellowstone River and lies just to the south of the Gallatin National Forest and is in a major migration route for animals coming and going seasonally from the higher elevations of Yellowstone Park. Elk and deer are regular visitors and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth.

National Parks[edit]

Yellowstone National Park is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the world's first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. The park contains 3,472 square miles (8,987 km2), and 3 of the main 5 entrances to the park are in Montana at Cooke City, Gardiner and West Yellowstone.

National Forests[edit]

  • Gardiner District forest service offices 805 Scott St. Gardiner, +1 406 848-7375
  • 1 Custer National Forest. Spanning across southeastern Montana north east of Yellowstone National Park the Forest encompasses nearly 1.3 million acres, the Custer National Forest is known best as one of the most ecologically diverse forests in the Northern Region. Custer National Forest (Q942222) on Wikidata Custer National Forest on Wikipedia
  • 2 Gallatin National Forest. This 1.8-million acre Forest spans six mountain ranges and includes two Congressionally-designated Wilderness areas, the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wildernesses. Gallatin National Forest (Q1751739) on Wikidata Gallatin National Forest on Wikipedia

Wilderness areas[edit]

  • 3 Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. covering 920,310 acres, is an administrated unit of the Gallatin National Forest, Custer National Forest and the Shoshone National Forest and is named for its jagged peaks resembling bears teeth and for Native Americans that lived in the area. Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (Q4669667) on Wikidata Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness on Wikipedia


  • 1 Boiling River. Just inside of Yellowstone National Park south of Gardiner a sign north of where the road crosses the Gardner River marks the 45th parallel of latitude. A little distance south of the sign, a parking area on the east side of the road is used by bathers in the "Boiling River", one of a very few spots in the park where visitors can soak in naturally-heated water. Bathers must walk upstream about a half mile from the parking area to the place where the footpath reaches the river. This spot is also marked by large clouds of steam, especially in cold weather. Here, the hot water runoff from the Mammoth Terraces, enters the Gardner River. The hot and the cold water mix in pools along the river's edge. Bathers are allowed in the river during daylight hours only. Bathing suits are required, and no alcoholic beverages are allowed. Boiling River is closed in the springtime due to hazardous high water and often does not reopen until mid-summer. It tends to be very crowded, so try to visit very early in the morning during peak season.
  • 2 Yellowstone Rafting Company, 11 2nd St., toll-free: +1-800-858-7781. Founded in 1978, The Yellowstone Raft Company pioneered white water rafting on the Yellowstone River and is the only company that is fully permitted by both the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to run trips on the Yellowstone River.
  • Wild West Rafting Company, 220 W Park St (North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park), +1 406-848-2252. Offers a variety of river rafting tours.


  • 1 Yellowstone Forever Institute, 308 Park St, +1 406 848-2400. The nonprofit Yellowstone Association educates Yellowstone National Park visitors by offering trip planners, books, videos, and guided classes.
  • 2 Parks Fly Shop, 202 S 2nd St, +1 406 848-7314. Since 1953. They sell only flies & gear useful within fifty miles of Gardiner, local guide service, focused only on Yellowstone National Park and the Blue Ribbon Yellowstone River system outside the park.


main street

Gardiner offers a wide variety of foods for the hungry traveler. Try searching out locally sourced game such as wild trout or even an elk burger.

  • 1 Yellowstone Mine, 905 Scott St, +1 406 848-7336. Mine-themed restaurant off of the main drag.
  • 2 Tumbleweed Bookstore and Cafe, 501 Scott St, +1 406-848-2225.
  • 3 Helen's Corral Drive-In, 711 Scott St W, +1 406 848-7627. Arguably not just the best burger in town, but in the whole state. Consider sharing one, they are big and they are in no hurry to get it to you. Try an elk or buffalo burger for some additional local flavor. Their logo says it all 'home of the hateful hamburger', this has been a Gardiner institution for as long as anyone can remember.


Montanans take their Bars Pretty seriously and Gardiner is no exception. Bars can be a great source for local news and fishing reports as well as a chance to rub elbows with the locals.

  • 1 Antler Pub & Grill, 107 Hellroaring St. One of the many bars that Gardiner manages to keep going year round.
  • 2 Iron Horse Bar & Grille, 212 Spring St, +1 406-848-7888.
  • 3 Red's Blue Goose Saloon, 206 W Park St, +1 406-848-7434.
  • 4 Rusty Rail Lounge and Casino, 905 Scott Street West, +1 496-848-7336.
  • 5 Bears Brew, 107 Second St, +1 406-640-4662.


Located right on the park border, Gardiner is a popular place to spend the night and offers a massive number of options. In addition to hotels and campgrounds there are a number of rental cabins available.


  • 1 Eagle Creek Campground (2 miles from the park entrance). Operated by the state of Montana.
  • 2 Timber Camp Campground (9 miles from the park entrance). Operated by the state of Montana.
  • 3 Bear Creek Campground (9.5 miles from the park entrance). Operated by the state of Montana.
  • 4 Canyon Campground (16 miles from the park entrance). Operated by the state of Montana.
  • 5 Rocky Mountain RV Park & Lodging LLC, 14 Jardine Rd, +1 406-848-7251.

Hotels and motels[edit]


Most hotels offer free wifi. It is a common sight in town to see a weary backpacker hunched over their laptop in one of the few coffee shops in town taking advantage of the free wifi.

Stay safe[edit]

Though many of the animals in the park area are used to seeing humans, the wildlife is nonetheless wild and should not be fed or disturbed. Stay at least 100 m away from bears and 25 m from all other wild animals! No matter how docile they may look, bison, elk, moose, bears, and nearly all large animals can attack, and every year dozens of visitors are injured because they didn't keep a proper distance. These animals are large, wild, and potentially dangerous, so give them their space.

The weather can change rapidly and with little warning. A sunny, warm summer day can quickly become a cold, rainy or even snowy experience. Hypothermia can be a concern. Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions by bringing along appropriate clothing. Lightning can and does injure and kill people in the park area, so watch the sky and take shelter in a building if you hear thunder.

Finally, with so many people visiting the park each year petty crimes are something to be vigilant against. Lock your car doors and exercise sensible precautions with valuables.

Go next[edit]

Yellowstone National Park is to the south and Livingston is to the north via highway 89

Routes through Gardiner
Great FallsLivingston  N  S  Yellowstone N.P.Grand Teton N.P.

This city travel guide to Gardiner is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.