West Yellowstone is a small town located in southwestern Montana, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. This makes it the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to explore the park. But the appeal of West Yellowstone doesn’t stop there. The town is also home to a number of natural attractions and outdoor activities that are perfect for any traveler. So you’re sure to find something to do no matter what your interests are. In this post, I will share with you the 12 Best Things to Do in West Yellowstone that will make your trip unforgettable.
Things to Do in West Yellowstone, Montana
1. Explore the Wonders of Yellowstone National Park
I’m starting with the most obvious one; exploring Yellowstone National Park should definitely be top of your list of things to do in West Yellowstone. After all, the town is named after the park, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US.
Yellowstone, the nation’s first national park, encompasses a staggering 3,468 square miles of majestic mountains, verdant valleys, deep forests, gushing geysers, and steaming hot springs. It’s home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including bison, elk, grizzly bears, and wolves.
There are so many things to see and do in Yellowstone that it would be impossible to list them all here. But some of the top attractions include seeing the iconic Old Faithful geyser erupt, taking a dip in the hot springs, hiking to waterfalls, and watching wildlife in their natural habitat.
In winter, the park transforms into a wonderland of snow and ice, with activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife watching. No matter what time of year you visit, exploring Yellowstone National Park should be at the top of your list of the best places to visit in West Yellowstone.
2. Watch the Mesmerizing Sunset at Hebgen Lake
Do you want to experience one of Montana’s most beautiful sunsets? Then head to Hebgen Lake. This lake was created in 1959 when an earthquake caused a landslide that blocked the Madison River. Today, Hebgen Lake is a popular spot for fishing, camping, boating, and picnicking.
But the real draw of Hebgen Lake is the sunset. Every evening, the sun dips behind the mountains, casting a beautiful pink, orange, and red glow over the lake. There are a number of great spots along the shore to watch the sunset that provides panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
You can also extend your sunset experience by staying overnight at one of the many campgrounds or RV parks in the area. These are the perfect places to relax, unwind and enjoy the stunning scenery of Hebgen Lake. Plus, you can still watch the sunset from the comfort of your campsite.
Hebgen Lake is located just outside of West Yellowstone and is a short drive from the town center. So whether you’re looking for a romantic spot to watch the sunset or a place to enjoy the outdoors, Hebgen Lake is the perfect destination.
3. Embark on an Adventure at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center should definitely be high on your list of the top things to do in West Yellowstone if you have kids. This unique facility is dedicated to the education and conservation of grizzly bears and grey wolves. These animals are unfit and cannot be released back into the wild. So the Discovery Center provides them with a permanent home where they can live out their natural lives.
The Discovery Center offers up-close encounters with both species. You can watch the grizzlies from an underwater viewing area and learn about their diets, habitat, and behavior. The gray wolves are located in a naturalistic enclosure where you can observe them howling, playing, and interacting with each other. There are also a number of interactive exhibits, educational programs, and live shows.
In addition to the bears and wolves, the Discovery Center is home to a number of other wildlife species, including eagle owls, trumpeter swans, otters, and bald eagles.
This Discovery Center is a non-profit organization, and all proceeds go towards the care of the animals and educational programs. And if you have kids, they’ll love the “Keeper Kids” program. This is a chance for them to participate in hands-on activities and learn about the grizzly bears. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 5-12, and free for kids under 5. Plus, it’s open year-round.
4. Get Enlightened With History at the Museum of the Yellowstone
A good trip always involves a little bit of learning, and the Museum of the Yellowstone is one of the best places to learn about the history of the region. The museum is located in the heart of downtown West Yellowstone and is housed in a beautiful log building. This museum is small but packs a big punch, with a wide range of exhibits covering the area’s history, from early Native American tribes to the rise of tourism in the early 20th century.
One of the highlights of the museum is the extensive collection of Yellowstone memorabilia. This includes everything from vintage postcards and maps to historic photographs and films. There are also exhibits of many modes of transportation that were used to move around the park.
In addition, this museum is also the right place to learn about the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in North America. There is a special exhibit dedicated to this event, with photos, videos, and newspaper clippings from the time.
I suggest taking a guided tour of the museum, which is offered several times a day. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will bring the history of the region to life. Therefore, be sure to include a visit to this museum on your list of the best places to visit in West Yellowstone.
5. Cross-Country Ski the Rendezvous Trail System
In the winter, one of the best things to do in West Yellowstone is cross-country skiing. The Rendezvous Ski Trails is a top-notch system of 35 kilometers of trails that are expertly groomed for both classic and skate skiing.
The Rendezvous Trail System is located just outside of town and offers something for skiers of all levels. And at a base elevation of 6,800 feet, the trails are relatively snow-sure compared to other ski areas in the region.
Beginner trails wind through forests and meadows, while advanced trails take you to the top of nearby hills for stunning views of the valley. There are also a number of backcountry ski trails if you’re looking for a more challenging adventure. These trails take you deep into the wilderness and offer a true backcountry skiing experience.
If you’re new to the sport, West Yellowstone is a great place to learn. The West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation offers group and private lessons, as well as rentals. Once you’ve mastered the basics, take a scenic ski tour with one of the Foundation’s naturalist guides.
6. Fly Fish at the Blue Ribbon Waterways
West Yellowstone is a mecca for fly fishing, and the blue ribbon waterways are some of the best places to fish in the area. There are numerous rivers, streams, and lakes to choose from, all teeming with trout.
Some top spots for fly fishing include the Madison River, Gallatin River, and Yellowstone River. The Madison River is one of the world’s most popular fly fishing destinations. It’s known for its large population of trout, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. The Gallatin River is another top choice, with a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and whitefish.
I suggest visiting one of the many fly shops in town to get advice on where to fish and what tackle to use. The experts at these shops can also teach you how to fly fish if you’re a beginner. Some of the top fly shops in West Yellowstone include Montana Trout Wranglers, Blue Ribbon Flies, and Yellowstone Angler.
Fly fishing is a great way to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of West Yellowstone. It’s also a great activity for the whole family. And no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always great fly fishing in West Yellowstone.
7. Get Ready for a Snowmobile Ride
Another one of the top things to do in West Yellowstone in winter is snowmobiling. The area around West Yellowstone is crisscrossed with an extensive network of snowmobile trails, making it a top destination for snowmobiling in the US. Riders can explore the surrounding wilderness and see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country.
In addition, the west entrance to Yellowstone is always closed to traffic in winter. But you can access the park by snowmobile, making it a great place to explore on two wheels.
Most visitors go on a guided snowmobile tour. This is a great option if you’re new to snowmobiling or don’t have your own machine. There are many reputable tour operators in West Yellowstone, and they will provide you with a snowmobile, all the necessary gear, and a knowledgeable guide.
If you’re an experienced snowmobiler and have your own machine, you can explore on your own. Just make sure you’re familiar with the trails and have the proper permits. You can get more information on permits at the Ranger Station in West Yellowstone.
During my visit, I went on a guided snowmobile tour with one of the local tour operators. We had a blast cruising through the Norris Geyser Basin and seeing some of the most active geysers in Yellowstone. The experience was truly unforgettable.
8. Enjoy Delicious Meals in West Yellowstone
Of course, food is an important part of any vacation. And getting a taste of the local cuisine should always be on your list of things to do in any new town or city. So why not add some delicious West Yellowstone meals to your list? There are plenty of great places to eat in West Yellowstone, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants.
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of the town’s many cafes. I suggest the Mountain Mama’s Coffeehouse and Bakery, where you’ll have a great coffee to start your day of exploring. After a morning of hiking, you’ll want to refuel with a filling lunch. For something quick and easy, stop by the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon for a slice of pizza or a burger.
After a day of exploring, you’ll want to relax with a nice dinner. For something truly special, make a reservation at the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. This restaurant has an extensive menu of mouth-watering items, from steak and seafood to pasta dishes. And don’t forget to top off your meal with one of their delicious desserts.
There are many great places to eat, so be sure to explore and find your favorite. But these are some of my suggestions for the best places to enjoy a meal in this town.
9. “Fly” In the Air at Yellowstone Zipline Adventure Park
Are you looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity? Then you’ve got to try the Yellowstone Zip-line Adventure Park. This is one of the best things to do in West Yellowstone for thrill seekers.
The Adventure Park features a series of zip lines, suspension bridges, and elevated ropes courses that are sure to get your heart racing. The park is located just outside of town and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The zip lines range from 300 feet to almost 1,000 feet, and some even reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. If you’re feeling really brave, you can try the “Big zip,” which is the longest and fastest zip line in Montana.
In addition, whitewater rafting and horseback riding are also included in some of the park packages. So there’s something for everyone at the Yellowstone Zip-line Adventure Park.
10. Catch a live show at the Playmill Theatre
After a long day of exploring, there’s nothing better than catching a live show. The Playmill Theatre is one of the top places to visit in West Yellowstone for live entertainment. This historic theatre has been around since the early 1960s and has been a staple of the town’s entertainment scene ever since.
The Playmill Theatre is best known for its live musical productions. The theatre puts on a wide variety of shows, ranging from classic Broadway musicals to country western revues. There is something for everyone at the Playmill Theatre.
In addition to live musicals, the theatre also hosts a number of other events throughout the year. These include stand-up comedy shows, magic shows, and even a few film screenings. Be sure to check the theatre’s website to see what’s playing during your visit.
This theatre is located just a few blocks from the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center, making it easy to find. I highly recommend catching a show here, especially if you’re looking for fun things to do in West Yellowstone at night.
11. Raft the Gallatin River
If you thought Yellowstone was all about geysers and hot springs, think again. White water rafting is one of the fun activities to do in West Yellowstone during the summer months. And the Gallatin River is one of the best places to go rafting in the area.
The Gallatin River is a scenic river that flows through the mountains near West Yellowstone. The river is well known for its excellent whitewater rafting, with Class I-II rapids that are perfect for beginners and families. Class II-III rapids are also available for those looking for a more adventurous ride. And finally, there are also a few sections of Class IV rapids for experienced rafters.
There are four companies in town that offer whitewater rafting trips, and they all include a shuttle service to and from the put-in and take-out points. All you need to bring is a bathing suit and sunscreen, and you’re good to go.
So if you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to spend a day in Yellowstone, be sure to add whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River to your list.
12. Go Mountain Biking At the Lionhead
Bike enthusiasts will want to add the Lionhead area to their list of top things to do in West Yellowstone. After all, this is one of the best places to go mountain biking in the region as it is surrounded by acres of national forest.
And although there are many great trails in the area, the Lionhead area is especially popular because it is renowned for its high-altitude routes that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. In addition, it is also a great place to mountain bike as it offers a wide range of trails for all skill levels.
However, if you’re not interested in mountain biking in the Lionhead area, there are plenty of other great trails in the region. Do you remember the Rendezvous Trail System that we talked about earlier? This is also a great place to go mountain biking. During summer, the snow melts, and the trails become dry and perfect for biking.
You’ll find several bike rental shops in West Yellowstone, so it’s easy to get started on your mountain biking adventure. Freheel & Wheel is a great option as they offer a wide range of bikes for all skill levels.
As you prepare for your trip, be sure to add these top attractions and things to do in West Yellowstone to your list. This town is the perfect base for exploring Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding areas. So, I suggest using this list as a starting point for planning your trip. And, of course, you’re always welcome to come back and add more places to the list as you discover them.