Whenever family or friends ask what time of year they should visit, my answer is always an easy one—spring. Free from the intensity of summer crowds, this charming season provides a more intimate experience with Gardiner, Montana, and the incredible public lands surrounding us on all sides.
To begin with, spring is one of the most photogenic times of the year. We’re fortunate to live amongst an abundance of spectacular wildlife—some of which make their homes right here in town. April and May are wonderful times to watch a small elk calf take her first steps, or witness the rusty red coat of a baby bison against impossibly green hillsides. Top that off with early spring wildflowers and waterfalls flowing at their peak, and you have yourself a nature photographer’s paradise.
Speaking of paradise, I might also suggest taking advantage of lower elevation hiking opportunities. Pine Creek Falls and Passage Creek Falls are mellow, dog-friendly hikes on the Gallatin National Forest in Paradise Valley. Or if you’re craving a shorter hike in Yellowstone National Park, trails suitable for the entire family include Lava Creek, Rescue Creek, and Wraith Falls along the park’s Northern Range.
Spring is also the ideal time of year to take a day trip into Yellowstone National Park. Thermal attractions like the Upper Geyser Basin (home to Old Faithful) or Midway Geyser Basin (hello, Grand Prismatic!) are packed in July and August, but both are accessible and breathtaking before Memorial Day crowds arrive. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and crisp alpine air surrounding a partially frozen Yellowstone Lake are also not to be missed.
Cycling enthusiasts will also love a visit to the Gardiner area this time of year. For a brief window of time, Yellowstone National Park roads that are still closed to automobiles become bike-friendly. Although weather can be fickle, a cycling trip into the park will leave you with an unprecedented memory of Yellowstone solitude – just you, the whir of your tires, and the blur of (hopefully) far-off bison herds rushing past you.
Best of all, our gateway community shakes off its heavy winter coat and springs to life! Local area businesses including comfortable lodging, local eateries, and recreation and guiding companies are ready to help you make the most of your spring visit.
If you find yourself lucky enough to be in the area this spring, be sure stop by the Gardiner Chamber and say hello! Whether it’s a Northern Range wildlife watching excursion or sinking your teeth into one of Montana's best elk burgers we look forward to sharing this unsung season with you.