Go West

Headed to West Yellowstone? Here's your packing list for a day, weekend, or fortnight of fun in our lodgepole-enveloped neighbor to the south:

A wee embarrassed about your broken-down turquoise '90s Huffy? Bring it to Yellowstone Bicycles, where owner Les McBirney will fix it up with nary a judgmental sneer. If you still can't hack the color, he'll rent you a ride from the eclectic front-of-store conglomeration featuring high-end custom Italian road bikes and tuned-up mountain beaters, no two alike. Behold his handmade mutant beauties: a buddy bike (a bicycle built for two, ridden side by side), a rickshaw-style contraption, or the hardcore "ski bike." The discerning and decaffeinated can head to the espresso bar / gear shop Freeheel and Wheel, where Trek and Specialized cycles are available by the day or hour, with trailers, too. Either way, be sure to BYOB or rent your rig in town, as bicycles aren't available beyond Park gates.

Roadies can pedal the popular 30-mile round-trip ride between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction or cruise along the north shore of Hebgen Lake on Highway 287, which boasts wide shoulders and scenic pullouts. For mountain biking, Freeheel owner Kelli Sanders prefers the easy-access Rendezvous Trails. Challenging local trails include Tepee Creek to Red Canyon, Coffin Lake, Lion's Head and Mile Creek. Bonus: quad goddesses meet for weekly mountain bike rides, commencing around 9 or 10 am Thursdays at Freeheel and Wheel.

Flies and guides are available at Jacklin's and Arrick's, just to name two. Pick one of West's many experienced guides to access secret stashes of brook trout, cutthroats, and rainbows. On your own, cast into the loaded Madison or Gallatin Rivers. Dodge "speed goats" (localspeak for roadkill-prone pronghorn) on the road to Hidden Lake for a quiet tree-lined shore and catch prime evening bird watching at Red Rock National Wildlife Refuge on the return. Mid-to-late-summer, the infamous tricky "Gulper" fishing descends on Quake and Hebgen Lakes: good luck. Get skunked? Paddle On Adventures rents kayaks on Hebgen. Or, just harass your fellow fisherman by roaring past on water skis.

Out of 1,000 miles of premier local trails, Sanders recommends Purple Mountain, located at the Madison Junction on Norris Road, an easy-access hike with "a great view of many of the geysers."

Spiteful breezes terrorize West Yellowstone, especially in the early afternoon. When it’s too choppy to fish, local Brett Bench launches a two-handed kite into the wild blue yonder from an empty lot. "My mom and my six-grade teacher bought it for me," he explains. "What else can you do when it's this windy?" Anyone can be a pro in about three rope burns and a grass stain. Tape a few flashlights to your kite at twilight and sail into the darkness.

Handy for discerning those fake grizzly statues from the real thing; even handier on West's brand new tennis courts, set to open in the Madison Addition mid-summer. Sans racket? Join pickup games of Ultimate Frisbee Monday nights around 6:00 pm at City Park.

Sick of sweeping views and majestic ungulates? The Targhee Fun center serves up go-carts, mini-golf, a climbing wall, Canadian five-pin bowling, and pizza greasy enough to make up for all that trailside gorp.