Fun Photo Ops in Gardiner, Montana

Fun Photo Ops in Gardiner, Montana

August 01, 2023

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 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. Cheers to rebuilding Park Street!


Roosevelt Arch

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.


Cowboy’s Statue

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). 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.


Sinclair Dinosaur

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. 


The Devil's Slide 

While you're on your way out of town, you won't want to miss the "Devil's Slide". With a convenient pullout for photos between mile markers 5 & 6 on US Hwy 89 (approx. 5 miles north of Gardiner), the Devil's Slide may resemble a giant bacon slab to some but its contents are far from it. This geological formation is likely to have occurred when alternate beds of limestone, sandstone, and quartzites eroded at different times giving it its signature red color. Named by a companion of the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition,  Langford himself wrote of the structure in his famed Wonders of Yellowstone,  “We had seen many of the capricious works wrought by erosion upon the friable rocks of Montana, but never before upon so majestic a scale. Here an entire mountainside, by wind and water, had been removed, leaving as the evidences of their protracted toil these vertical projections, which, but for their immensity, might as readily be mistaken for works of art as of nature."


Eric Junker Murals

Two can't miss photo ops came are recent additions to Gardiner as of July 2023. On a cross-country road trip famed artist Eric Junker blessed our small community with two incredible murals. 'Protect Our Wild Places' (pictured left below) is located in the 24-hour Public Restroom and Information vestibule of the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center (216 Park St.). Junker's other mural is located on the back of the Yellowstone Pizza Company  (210 Park St.) Gardiner cannot express our thanks enough for these two works that not only add some much-needed color to our block but broadcast an important message.
A bit about the artist: Eric Junker channels his restless energy into creating art and design inspired by the colliding energies of his life in urban Los Angeles and his passion for nature and outdoor adventure. His California inspired psychedelic nature-pop murals can be found throughout Southern California, and as far afield as New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Baja Mexico, Costa Rica, and New York City. In his interdisciplinary creative practice, he has contributed design, art, and ideas to a client roster that has included OCULUS, LOUIS VUITTON, MADEWELL, PATAGONIA, COACH, TARGET, and the LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC. His work has been recognized by CBS This MorningNBC LAABC 7, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Cool Hunting, Elle Décor, and Angelino Magazine. He is also active in non-profits that support environmental causes, pediatric cancer research and homeless youth empowerment. He's currently a Lecturer at USC's Roski School of Art and Design.


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.


Chelsea DeWeese writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

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