Small-town vibes with big-mountain highs.
When you think of West Yellowstone, you think of the Park. However, long summer days provide access to so much more. Whether you’re fishing blue-ribbon streams, hiking in pristine wilderness, or mountain biking on hundreds of miles of singletrack and forest-service roads, this gateway town has something for everyone and won’t disappoint.
Forbes magazine named West Yellowstone one of America’s “Top Ten Fishing Towns,” but this summer, skip the Park and head west to Hebgen Lake. With dozens of miles of shoreline, you can camp, boat, canoe, and fish. Or, take an afternoon and learn to kayak on this clear lake surrounded by beautiful mountains. Just beyond Hebgen is Earthquake Lake, formed in 1959 when a 7.5 quake rocked the Madison Valley, clogging the Madison River.
The Custer-Gallatin National Forest and Madison Range surrounding West Yellowstone are a hiker’s dream, offering an abundance of options on millions of acres of public land. Miles of trails wind past aspen and pine, through tranquil meadows, and up impressive peaks. The Rendezvous Ski Trails, which start on the edge of town, are open to hikers and bikers in the summer. The Boundary Trail can be used year-round and is accessed on the northeast end of town and follows along the Park line.
West is a favorite destination for cyclists, who come annually for events like the West to Old Faithful Cycle Tour. With access to miles of trails starting at the edge of town, including the Continental Divide Trail, options are endless. Mountain bikers should be sure to check out the Lion’s Head area, while Hwy. 191 and 287, or even Yellowstone Park, are a must-do for road cyclists. Be sure to carry bear spray and give wildlife the distance and respect they require.
Many nights during the summer season, enjoy free concerts in the city park, as well as authentic rodeos featuring the “Calf Scramble” for kids. July 4 in West is a can’t-miss. The parade is open to all, there’s a barbecue at the park, and the evening ends with an incredible fireworks display set against a backdrop of the mountains. Need a low-impact outing? Visit the Yellowstone Historic Center, located in the original Union Pacific Depot. The center features the history of visitation and transportation to our nation's first national park and is open daily from the middle of May through the middle of October. You can also experience early West Yellowstone through a free, self-guided walking tour. The green Bear Paw Trail painted on the sidewalk leads the way.