Attractions & Activities in West Yellowstone, Montana
The main attraction of West Yellowstone is obvious – Yellowstone National Park. West Yellowstone is the closest “town” to the very popular Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park (where “Old Faithful” is found) – lying around 30 miles or so away. West Yellowstone is also very close to the Mammoth area of Yellowstone Park.
However, let’s break away from the obvious and look at some of the other neat things lying in and around West Yellowstone. You see, what I like about West Yellowstone is not its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, but it’s almost ideal location for lots of other intriguing outdoor activities.
West Yellowstone is home to the only IMAX theatre in Montana, at least as far as I know. I can spend hours watching these awesome films – and considering the on-again, off-again weather of West Yellowstone, having a IMAX movie theatre in town is a blessing on cold, rainy days.
Any person who is even remotely interested in shopping – any kind of shopping – can also easily spend a pleasant and fairly relaxing day just wandering around town. Whether you’re likes run to sporting goods, books, food or gifts, you’ll find something in town that is bound to be of interest.
And outside of West Yellowstone lies even more enjoyable things to do. First, it is no secret that the fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park is excellent. Yet, equal quality fishing is located outside of the park, too. Hebgen Lake has excellent rainbow trout, as does the Gallatin River and nearby Madison River. Or, you can go to the west of town, towards Idaho, and spend time fly fishing the legendary Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Thus, a serious angler who wants to fly fish the “Yellowstone Country”, so to speak, will need to get three fishing licenses – one for the park, one for Montana and one for Idaho. But hey, the fishing makes it all worthwhile, so don’t be cheap about it.
If you’re not in the mood to fish but want to enjoy the rivers, then you’re also in luck. The Gallatin River and the Madison River, each lying about 30 miles away, provide for some splendid float trips. The Gallatin River, in particular, is a great river for floating for people looking for whitewater.
Like mountain views? Well, lying about 30 miles to the west of town is Mt. Jefferson, which is part of the continental divide (part of the Centennial Mountains) – forming the border between Idaho and Montana. A good condition gravel road works its way up to the very top of this mountain from the Idaho side. The views from atop this mountain are absolutely outstanding, as you can see the Teton Mountains of Wyoming, Yellowstone Park (of course), the Centennial Valley of Montana, and countless other mountain ranges everywhere. The drive up here is well worth your time on a clear day if you want to take in a view. Read this article for more information about this very scenic and easy drive, which I call the Sawtell Peak Scenic Drive.
Hunting is not allowed in Yellowstone National Park, of course. However, lying just outside the park in Montana is wonderful hunting areas for elk, deer and pretty much everything else.
West Yellowstone, as everyone has probably heard by now, also remains very “active” during the winter months. West Yellowstone serves as the “hub” of winter recreation for Yellowstone National Park. This is mainly because the portion of Yellowstone Park that lies near West Yellowstone is open to snowmobiling and snow coach travel, going up as far as the Geyser Basin. While one can argue back and forth about the whole whether snowmobiling should be allowed in the park or not, people do come from all over the United States to take in the very unique site of seeing Yellowstone National Park during the winter.
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