Access Yellowstone from Gardiner with a Guide!

Access Yellowstone from Gardiner with a Guide!

July 05, 2022

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park through the North Entrance gateway community of Gardiner, Montana, can travel up a rapidly restored dirt roadway with park tour operators to view elk, bison, wolves, and other wild animals in the park’s northern regions and beyond. This road is expected to be passable for regular traffic by Oct. 15, 2022.

Guests who have reservations with licensed Yellowstone tour operators will be allowed entry in commercially guided vehicles in a series of convoys up and down the hill from Gardiner to Mammoth Hot Springs—this in an effort to allow limited park access without disrupting massive road construction that will see the historic stagecoach road being widened to two lanes and paved in an effort to become operational before winter.

Some tour operators are looking to add mixed-group vehicles up and into the park from Gardiner if that becomes an option, and many companies have ample availability for bookings in the wake of a wave of cancellations that took place as news spread of massive flooding in the region June 13 that temporarily disrupted any access to Yellowstone.

Now, with some visitor access to Yellowstone resuming with tour operators, fishing accesses reopening rapidly, a clearing river ripe for whitewater rafting, and ample biking, hiking, and horseback riding opportunities available on the surrounding Custer-Gallatin National Forest, we encourage you to plan a trip—if only for the weekend— to Gardiner, Nature’s Favorite Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. ™

If you’ve already reserved a tour with a tour company, or were planning on doing so, we encourage you to keep your reservations as the new system unfolds and park officials decide whether it’s working. If you haven’t booked a tour yet, we suggest you contact companies directly and see if they happen to have any last-minute availability.

Please note that the Visit Gardiner MT Staff is working diligently on updating our website directories to reflect businesses that are currently open and those that are now closed with plans to reopen at a later date due to impacts of the flooding event. However, our staff is extremely small and we apologize if there are any errors on listings within our website directories.

Where to Stay:

Although some large lodging establishments in Gardiner have closed due to the flood-related lack of visitation a number of small, locally-owned hotels, motels, and cabins have kept their doors open throughout the course of the season in spite of flood disruptions to visitor travel. Keep in mind, with the exception of one house that unfortunately was toppled into the river, the physical structures in Gardiner escaped the flooding largely unscathed due to being situated well above the Yellowstone River. Here are some links to lodging that remain open:

The Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Park Hotel, Absaroka Lodge, 406 Lodge, Hillcrest Cottages, Yellowstone River Motel, Yellowstone Treasure CabinsYellowstone Riverside Cottagesare among lodging that stayed open throughout the flooding and its aftermath and continue to eagerly welcome guests as of this blog post and plan on staying open all summer. A number of other larger lodging establishments may reopen next week after learning whether the change in access at the North Entrance can support their business needs. A number of Inns and Condos, Bed and Breakfasts, Cabins and Cottages, Camping, Glamping and Tipis, and Vacation Rentals remain open. A compiled list of lodging available in Gardiner can be found here.

Where to Eat:

As soon as the water in Gardiner was deemed safe to drink by Park County Health Department June 23 restaurants flung open their doors to customers with delicious fare ranging from charcuterie boards (gluten free on request), poutine, and pan-seared Lake Trout available at the Wonderland Café and Lodge which is open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast (baked goods) in addition to lunch and dinner. Also downtown, Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille offers bar-b-que pork, chicken, and round beef sandwiches with green side salads, baked beans, and elk chili. Monday through Saturday guests can order sit-down hot breakfasts and lunch and dinner are available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. A number of pop-up food carts throughout Gardiner are also regularly open including Sagebrushers & Savages, featuring BLTs and hand-cut fries, 406-Tex-Mex with a variety of street tacos, and Bears Brew espresso with early-morning to-go breakfast burritos and coffee. This is merely a sampling of the plethora of grab-and-go food available to quickly order while out for a stroll downtown or following a day out adventuring. Consider ending your day with a nightcap at the Yellowstone Mine located at the northern end of town.

Where to Play:

Whether or not you’re able to book a trip into Yellowstone plenty of fun, outdoor activities remain open. Whitewater rafting companies have access to the Yellowstone River which has dropped to more normal levels in the past two weeks. This family friendly section of whitewater offers a mix of splashy rapids and mountain scenery. Rafting the Yellowstone out of Gardiner also offers an opportunity to witness just how high the water rose, which is impressive. Zipline through green forest canopy in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where you’ll also have a chance to view wild animals that have ventured into the forest outside the park. Fill out your afternoon with a horseback ride into the national forest while you learn more about the cattle culture in the surrounding area. And remember, in addition to driftboat fishing on nearby bodies of water, fly fishing companies basing part of their tours in Yellowstone have access to take their clients into the park now under the newly implemented, limited access for tour companies.

Until the park officially opens to North Entrance to those traveling in private vehicles, this is the first step in reopening full visitor access to Mammoth Hot Springs, hopefully before the end of the season.

According to a press release from Yellowstone National Park issued Friday, July 1, 2022: “Reconnecting the park to Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate remains Yellowstone’s highest flood recovery priority.”

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

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