The Yellowstone Sign
Located in downtown Gardiner the Yellowstone National Park sign is the perfect way to commemorate your visit. Volcanic rocks encase the wooden sign and make the perfect seats to situate friends and family for photos. The National Park Service emblem sets off the large white lettering announcing your arrival to the world’s first national park. Be sure to explore shops on Park Street while you are perusing the area and please pay us a visit at the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce. We’d love to hear where you’ve traveled from, provide directions, and help answer any questions you may have about your visit. You’ll also notice the site of a downtown fire last summer is being temporarily transformed into an outdoor food and beverage location including adult beverages from Red’s Blue Goose Saloon—a local watering hole that sadly fell casualty to the Park Street fire last summer. Cheers to rebuilding Park Street!
Dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Roosevelt Arch has greeted visitors to Yellowstone from the early days of trains and stagecoaches though modern times. The arch, which “Teddy” laid a cornerstone for during the 1903 dedication, bears language from the 1872 Organic Act which recognized Yellowstone as the world’s first national park: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” Blue skies in summer make the perfect backdrop and a major renovation in 2016 makes the area safe for parking and taking photos. Walk through the doorways on either side of the arch and look up to see how the interior is constructed. Nearby signage explains the location’s significance and Yellowstone Forever, the park’s nonprofit partner, provides comfy rocking chairs on their porch where you can sit in the shade and enjoy the view. Be sure to visit their retail store to find books, souvenirs, and information on recent wildlife sightings.
No child—and few adults—can resist posing with the bull-riding cowboy statue outside Cowboy’s Lodge and Grill along Hwy. 89 as it becomes a main road through downtown Gardiner. The statue is a celebration of Montana’s cowboy and cowgirl culture and makes a fun photo backdrop. If you’d like to take it a step further, you can reserve a horseback ride with one of the area’s many outfitters, many of whom pair with whitewater rafting companies. Cowboy’s Lodge and Grill features western fare including bar-b-que sandwiches and country fried steak (and mac and cheese for the young ones) and the business is currently in the process of building additional outdoor seating. A short walk takes you to the bridge overlooking the Yellowstone River as it makes its way downstream from Yellowstone through Gardiner on its way to meet the Missouri River.
En route to Yellowstone on Hwy 89 the Gardiner Sinclair greets visitors with gas pumps, a Dino Mart, and automotive and RV repair services. The company’s trademark mascot statue, “Dino” the dinosaur, is located twice on the property and makes for a funny, spur-of-the-moment photo. (Please don’t climb on Dino, though.) Dinosaurs have a long history in Montana, which is home to some of the nation’s most famous fossils that have inspired paleontologists like Jack Horner, who helped advise the Jurassic Park films. Although the Yellowstone volcano obliterated much of the fossil record around Yellowstone, “Dino” and “Dino” can be found approximately four miles north of Gardiner. Be sure to check out the Grizzly Grille and Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ food trucks when you stop for a tasty bite. Their hours of operation and websites can be found here.
Welcome to Montana
Make sure they know you made it—to Montana. The town of Gardiner is located in “The Treasure State” which shares Yellowstone with neighboring Idaho and Wyoming. What makes Gardiner stand out from other entrances, aside from the mountain-rimmed Paradise Valley to the north and the Yellowstone River, is that it’s common to find elk, deer, and other wildlife lounging in shady residential yards and roaming the streets. This is why Gardiner has been dubbed “Nature’s Favorite Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.” After logging your adventure with the “Welcome to Montana” sign enjoy a picnic in the neighboring Northside Pocket Park, which features native landscaping and a picnic table. Nearby the Yellowstone Outpost Mall offers western-themed galleries, souvenir shops, and dining options including a pizza and taco shop. The Yellowstone Mine across the street also offers beverages and dining. Their hours of operation can be found here.
Chelsea DeWeese writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.