Logistics were always a problem for me, even before the Yellowstone Series was released. Yellowstone is not the easiest to reach. It’s worth it to visit our first national park. The beauty of this area was breathtaking. We spent a few days touring the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, WY and then three days at Yellowstone, our first national park. We stayed in Gardiner, Montana while we explored Yellowstone. It was only five miles away from the North Entrance to the Park.

Yellowstone’s Gateways

I spent a great deal of time researching and planning our trip. I knew exactly what we were looking for and where we would stay. Many people chose to base themselves in one of the gateway cities near the park entrances. Yellowstone has five entrances because it is so large. West Yellowstone is the most popular park entrance and is located at the West entrance. Gardiner was our choice because it offered a quieter stay, fewer people, and was close to the North Entrance.

Gardiner is a small Montana town with less than 1,000 people. The town is busy during the summer months when this number grows exponentially. Gardiner’s small-town feel was a great addition to the stunning Absaroka Mountain views and scenic drives. Gardiner was a great place to stay. There were multiple hotels, casual dining restaurants, outdoor outfitters and gourmet grocery stores.

Flying into Bozeman on our way to Gardiner, Montana

We began our epic road trip as soon as we landed in Bozeman Airport, MT. It’s a small airport without any hassles. We took an Uber to the car rental agency off-site. Off-site was cheaper than renting a car from the airport. When booking a trip in Yellowstone during the summer months, keep in mind that there is a lot of demand for hotels, cars and other services. If you don’t book your accommodations in advance, you may not be able to get the accommodation you want.

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We drove from Bozeman to Jackson, Wyoming. After visiting Grand Teton National Park we headed to Gardiner. We stayed at The Roosevelt Hotel in Gardiner. The pronghorns grazing on the other side of the road made us very happy. We became accustomed to seeing them in the city. They settle in.

Roodevelt Hotel Gardiner, MT. Photo by SJ Morningsen

Home of the Roosevelt Arch

Gardiner’s first stop was the famous Roosevelt Arch, which is located just outside the park entrance. You’ve probably seen photos of this beautiful stone arch that was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt back in 1903. Bring your camera and arrive early to avoid the crowds. Every morning, I walked to the arch with my coffee from our hotel. It was great to be alone with the elk in the field nearby.

We visited the visitor center, which is located directly across the street from Arch Park. There were many shops along the street. Signs advertising bear spray will be visible. It’s good to know how to use bear spray and to carry it with you if you are going into a park. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The iconic and historic Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner MT. Photo by SJ Morningsen

Custer Gallatin National Forest in Gardiner, Montana

Gardiner, home of the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, is also the home of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. We wanted to visit the Gardiner District portion of this 13 million-acre forest, which borders Gardiner. We drove up Jardine Road in order to enjoy the lush, green scenery and breathtaking mountain views. The views were amazing, even though it was foggy and overcast.

Gallatin National Forest Sign at Gardiner, MT. Photo by SJ Morningsen

Gardiner Food Scene

Gardiner’s food scene is limited, as it is a small community. In 2022, the massive flooding that hit the area forced many local restaurants to shut down. This further limited the options in town. We walked to the Corra l for dinner one evening. This long-standing burger place is known for its Buffalo burgers. Even though we were early and it was raining, there was still a long line. The cheeseburger my husband ordered was delicious and fresh. My Caesar salad was delicious. You can grab gourmet food at Gardiner Market as an alternative to going to a restaurant. The market offers prepared foods at the deli, as well as a large selection of liquor, beer and wine.

The Corral in Gardiner, MT. Photo by SJ Morningsen

Gardiner Giddy Up

Our Gardiner trip was topped off by a thrilling horse drive through the town! The annual Horse Drive held in May was a great opportunity for us to visit Gardiner. The real cowboys transport horses from Gardiner rodeo grounds to their home in Jardine, which is about 7 miles away. The hotel we stayed in on Scott Street provided the best vantage point from which to watch the Cowboys handle the horses during the race through the town and up the hill. Hell’s A-Roarin Outfitters organizes the horse drive, which is followed by a dinner, a dance and a live auction. The net proceeds go to Action Trakchairs, assisting disabled veterans. You should not miss this event if you are in town.