Here at the historic entrance to Yellowstone, May might feel like we’re standing at the water’s edge, getting ready for the plunge that is peak summer visitation. That said, it’s an incredibly rejuvenating and exciting time of year! Our seasonal employees are returning, offering a vibrant mix of the young, the old, and the adventurous. Baby animals - on the farm, in the park, and on neighboring forest land - are being born before our very eyes. With so much beauty and renewal happening all around us, we’ve taken a moment to reflect upon just a few of our favorite things about Gardiner in the month of May.
1. Everything is green. For us, April showers bring vivid, nutrient-rich spring grass to the hills above town and along the Paradise Valley. New leaves bursting from cottonwoods and aspen shimmer in the sunlight. Bison and elk calves teeter on unsteady legs in verdant fields. And speaking of going green, some of our area restaurants serving local, sustainably sourced meat and produce are just opening up for the busy summer season, offering a delicious and environmentally friendly dining option.
2. Wildlife watching. If you ask Chamber Executive Director Loren, baby bison alone could be numbers 1-5 for this post. There’s a reason she and our local guiding companies love the month of May. Brand new bear cubs and playful bison calves provide for endless hours of observation. Elk calves are born towards the end of the month, followed by baby pronghorn. May is the perfect time to watch these youngsters take some of their first steps.
3. The annual Hell’s A-Roarin’ Horse Drive Fundraiser. If you ask us, unique events like this one are just one of the things that make our community so special. Each Memorial Day, the Hell’s A-Roarin' Ranch moves their herd of horses from pasturing in eastern Montana. It’s a step back in time as visitors and locals watch the horses pass through Gardiner to their mountain ranch located up a narrow, winding road in neighboring Jardine, Montana. The drive is followed by a cowboy cookout and western dance.
4. Whitewater rafting. For the more adventurous types, spring runoff makes May one of the most exciting times to take to the Yellowstone River. The experts at our local rafting companies have been helping visitors and locals alike enjoy a safe but high-octane adventure on the Yellowstone River for decades. Choose between a few-hour scenic float to a multi-day rafting adventure in some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.
5. Scenic driving. As the plows continue to clear snow in Yellowstone National Park and along the Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways, more roads begin to open for the season. This increase in access provides for endless scenic driving opportunities. Try the drive from Gardiner, Montana through Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley to Yellowstone Lake for incredible wildlife watching opportunities and fewer crowds. Or be sure explore Yellowstone's Northern Range with a visit to our friends in Cooke City then continue on to the Beartooth Highway for a taste of truly rugged - and breathtaking - southwestern Montana scenery. The Chief Joseph Highway on to Cody, Wyoming, is currently open, and the remainder of the Bearthooth Highway on to Red Lodge will open towards the end of the month.
What do you love about May in your corner of the world? Don’t forget to tag your adventures with #VisitGardinerMT if you’re lucky enough to experience our little town this time of year for a chance to be featured on our website and Instagram!
Photo Credits: Gardiner Bridge and Horse Drive, J. Modsette. Baby Bison in Yellowstone: Evan Barrett. Whitewater rafting: Paradise Adventure Company. Yellowstone Lake: Yellowstone NPS.