What happens when you find yourself needing a change of pace, a different outdoor backdrop, or just need to run into some new faces? Satisfy your hunger for variety by heading south, to the border towns of West Yellowstone and Island Park, where opportunity awaits to reinvigorate your outdoor interests. With West Yellowstone a quick 90 minutes and Island Park just another half-hour down the road, a little driving can go a long way when adventure is on your mind.
If the water calls, both locations deliver. Island Park rests along the legendary Henry’s Fork of the Snake River—50 miles of some of the nation’s best fly fishing. Within a short hop from West Yellowstone are the uppermost stretches of all our favorite local rivers—the Yellowstone, the Gallatin, and the Madison. For stillwater action, Henry’s Lake State Park (located 15 miles outside of West Yellowstone) opens May 24, with a fish-cleaning station and 44 campsites awaiting your arrival. And if you’re set on sightseeing, a short drive-and-hike from Island Park give you two of Idaho’s (practically Montana’s) most scenic waterfalls: Mesa Falls and Cave Falls.
If it’s still early in the season and you prefer water in its frozen form, head back to West Yellowstone, where the Rendezvous Trails are open for cross-country skiing through March 31. There might be some mud mixed in with the snow, but hey—no grit, no glory.
Need to burn off some winter fat? Warm up with a little cardio during Yellowstone National Park’s month-long window for non-motorized use of certain Park roads, taking place from mid-March to mid-April. Biking, walking, jogging, roller blades, roller skis, and similar means of self-propelled travel are permitted between the West Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Later on in the season, satisfy your singletrack desires at Henry’s Lake State Park, where a variety of trails are open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. West Yellowstone’s quick access to the Park’s staggering 1,100 miles of trails is always an option for hikers, and if mountain-biking is on your mind (and the weather cooperates), the Rendezvous Trails offer 22 miles of gentle slopes and widely cleared brush following the close of ski season.
Sure, Bozeman might have all the activities we need, but variety is the spice of life—and West Yellowstone and Island Park offer just that. For more detailed info, visit islandparkidaho.com and destinationyellowstone.com.