Gardiner, Montana: A Town for All Seasons


As the northwest gateway to Yellowstone, at the only park entrance open to vehicles year-round, Gardiner has a lot going on throughout the year. The hardest part will be choosing when to time your trip, but the good news is you can always return for another visit. Enjoy what each of the seasons brings to Gardiner, Montana.


The gateway to year-round Yellowstone

It’s certainly quieter in winter, and there aren’t as many services as you’ll find in the high season. But a winter trip to Gardiner can still get you into the park, with way fewer crowds. Drive into Yellowstone at Gardiner’s northwest entrance and follow plowed roads all the way through Lamar Valley to Cooke City.

Winter recreation opportunities for days

Of course, Gardiner has easy access to Yellowstone. But the surrounding national forest land is just as beautiful, with even more options for recreation. Snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities are all easy to come by.

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Wild whitewater for adrenaline-pumping fun

There technically isn’t any whitewater rafting allowed inside the park, but Gardiner’s raft companies deliver trips on the Yellowstone River, just minutes from the park boundary. And the beauty of the area isn’t based on lines on a map.

Quiet days at the start of the season

Fancy a hot spring soak or a quiet wander through Mammoth without the crowds? As spring eases into summer, it’s an ideal time to visit Gardiner, enjoy seeing the town start to open up and use your stay as a jumping-off point for all that the area has to offer as the weather warms.


What Yellowstone dreams are made of

Summer is the classic season of Yellowstone lore: windows down, wildlife aplenty, nights spent under the stars (but we’ll get to that in a minute). When you see Gardiner in the summer, you understand what brings people back time and again: local shops and eateries spilling out onto the sidewalk, slurping ice cream off your wrist, a cold microbrew at the end of a hot day. We have to admit, it’s pretty magical.

Starry nights and high-season fun

Horseback rides, river floats, mountain biking singletrack, miles and miles of hiking, climbing, road trip vibes, and the rest: it’s all here as the high season rolls out in Gardiner. And as the days wind down, sit out on the porch with the people you love, look up at the stars, and marvel at how the only light comes from the sparking campfire.

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Flaming foliage with scenic drives

Leaves turning set the river bottoms ablaze in a vivid way come autumn. Changing colors in cottonwoods, aspen, golden grass and native shrubs light up the vistas in and around Gardiner. The hustle slows and the bustle winds down, leaving space and beauty in its wake.

Wandering wildlife getting ready for winter

Of course, avid wildlife watchers should head into Yellowstone to scope around. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see herds of bison or elk wander through Gardiner as animals start to move around with the changing seasons. Fall is the time to spot some wildlife as winter descends and herds and packs move to winter ranges.

When you need a home base for all of your Gardiner adventures, see what Starry Night Properties in and around town will leave the (LED, solar-powered) light on for you with a hospitable Montana welcome. Book your stay, and explore Gardiner in every season.