Although it was not officially founded until 1880, Gardiner has served as Yellowstone National Park’s main entrance since the park was established in 1872. Find the small town in Montana’s stunning Paradise Valley. The Yellowstone River runs through Gardiner, attracting all sorts of wildlife for postcard-worthy photography.
Learn about the park and its history at Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center. In addition to one of the National Park Service’s largest collections of records and periodicals, the center features over 720,000 museum items, 30 of which are historic vehicles.
Ceremoniously access Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance via Roosevelt Arch. President Theodore Roosevelt, the arch’s namesake, dedicated it in 1903. Note the quote inscribed at the top of the arch: "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People." This is an excerpt from the Organic Act of 1872, the legislation that created Yellowstone.
Gardiner is close to many of the park’s top destinations. Find Mammoth Hot Springs just 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of town. Its soft limestone makes the springs look different from other thermal areas. Some describe its appearance as a cave turned inside out. Walk along the Upper and Lower Terraces, past features such as Liberty Cap and Minerva Spring.
Walk in the footsteps of Yellowstone’s earliest visitors along Old Gardiner Road. Follow the 5-mile (8-kilometer) stretch of dirt road, a historic stagecoach route, between Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner. During the spring and fall, watch for bighorn sheep, bison, elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope.
Go swimming in the Boiling River, one of only two sanctioned swimming areas in Yellowstone National Park. Despite its name, you will find the water pleasantly warm from the hot springs water that mixes with the very cold Yellowstone River.
Use Gardiner as a jumping-off point to explore Yellowstone National Park. Take time to enjoy the friendly town too. While it serves as the park’s northern hub, the town itself also features an array of restaurants, accommodations and cultural destinations.