West Yellowstone is a bustling metropolis compared to the wild, sprawling park adjoining it. It’s also the most direct route into the park for most visitors driving from Utah and Idaho. If the scarcity of food/shopping/hotels-with-pools options in the park is top of mind, you have an ally in West Yellowstone. Here are a few of our favorite West Yellowstone institutions.
By Brooke Wilhelmsen
This small theater of about 300 seats has staged summer shows for nearly 50 years and is a hallowed tradition for many families.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
This center is home to gray wolves and grizzly bears that cannot survive on their own in the wild. If you’re not lucky enough to spot their wild counterparts in Yellowstone, watch them up close in their large, natural habitat at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.
A 1959 magnitude 7.5 earthquake created a massive landslide killing 28 people and damming the Madison River to create “Quake Lake.” Stop at the visitors center to learn about the event and wander the shores to view remnants of cabins and trees destroyed by the natural disaster. It’s about a 30-minute drive along beautiful Hebgen Lake to the site.
Visitors love the modest, family owned Alpine Motel next to the west entrance of Yellowstone. You’ll find friendly hosts, a lobby stocked with snacks and drinks, and comfortable rooms.
Explorer Cabins are spacious and well-designed with large kitchenettes and a fireplace to lounge by at the end of a long day. Or kick back with other visitors on the Adirondack chairs circling the fire pit.
Days Inn, West Yellowstone
Traveling with kids? Win them over with a hotel pool at the more affordable Days Inn.
Three Bear Restaurant
Is there anything more Yellowstone than prime rib and bison chili in a homey lodge?
MUST grab one of their box lunches for a picnic in the park. And you won’t be disappointed with their pastries and coffee for breakfast.
Arrowleaf Ice Cream Parlor
Pick your ice cream. Pick your candy mix-in. Ruminate on the day you just spent in the park. Waffle cone is the only sane choice.
Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon
You know what you need after a day of hiking in the park: carbs. Load up on hard-earned calories with piping hot cheesy pizza and calzones.
If flies are your weapon of choice, this is your armory. Great gear and advice from salty local fly fishers.