8 Best Things to Do in Gardiner, MT

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: June 22nd, 2024

Ever dreamed of stepping into a landscape where bison roam free and steaming geysers erupt on cue? Right over the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park is the charming town of Gardiner, Montana. 

This bustling town features authentic Western vibes, breathtaking scenery, and the kind of outdoor adventure that’ll leave you buzzing long after you’ve unpacked your bags. Whether you’re a family looking to reconnect with nature, a couple seeking a romantic retreat, or a solo traveler itching to explore, Gardiner’s got something special just for you.

Unmissable Experiences in Gardiner, Montana

1. Yellowstone National Park

yellowstone national park

Gardiner is like Yellowstone’s front porch, offering easy access to the park’s northern wonders. Drive through the iconic and photogenic Roosevelt Arch, leading into Yellowstone National Park. On the other side of the grand stone entrance lies a world of geological marvels: steaming geysers and bubbling mud pots. Don’t miss the chance to spot wildlife like bison, elk, and maybe even a wolf or bear. 

2. Boiling River

boiling river

This natural hot spring merged with the icy Yellowstone River, creating the perfect spot for a soak. Although, it’s not longer open to the public after the pandemic due to extreme temperatures, it’s still a wonder to view from afar. Remember, this is a natural area, so tread lightly and leave no trace.

3. Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

grizzly and wolf discovery center
Image: Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Get up close and personal with these magnificent predators in a safe, educational setting. The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is home to rescued bears and wolves that can’t survive in the wild. Observe their playful antics, learn about their behaviors, and gain a newfound appreciation for these apex creatures. It’s a great way to guarantee a wildlife sighting from a safe stand point. 

4. Fly Fishing the Yellowstone River

fly fishing

  • Location: Multiple access points along the Yellowstone River
  • Website: Contact local outfitters like Parks’ Fly Shop
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (for best fishing conditions)
  • Cost: Varies depending on outfitter and trip length
  • Reservations: Recommended, especially during peak season

Gardiner is a fly-fishing paradise, and the Yellowstone River is its crown jewel to cast a memorable experience. Hire a local guide for expert instruction, tackle recommendations, and insider tips on the best fishing holes. Who knows, you might even hook a trophy trout!

5. Roosevelt Arch

the roosevelt arch

You can’t visit Gardiner without snapping a photo in front of the Roosevelt Arch. This imposing stone archway, inscribed with “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People,” marks the official entrance to Yellowstone. It’s a landmark; a symbol of adventure and the promise of wild experiences ahead.

6. Yellowstone Hot Springs

yellowstone hot springs facilities
Image: yellowstonehotspringsmt

Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Montana’s Paradise Valley, these steaming mineral-rich pools are a serene escape. 

Fed by the same geothermal forces that shape Yellowstone’s dramatic landscape, these pools offer a unique opportunity to soak your cares away. With multiple pools to choose from, each with its own distinct temperature, you’ll find the perfect spot to unwind and rejuvenate.

 A journal study by Dr. Binit Vaidya shows that natural minerals in the water are believed to have therapeutic properties, healing chronics and promotes overall well-being.

Soaking in hot springs with the crisp mountain air will let the stresses of everyday life melt away. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready for your next adventure.

7. Yellowstone Gifts and Sweets

gift shops

This charming shop offers a variety of gifts, souvenirs, and sweet treats. It’s the perfect stop for tourists looking for a special memento. Other shops around the area offer hand-made crafts, Yellowstone-themed merchandise, apparel, and an assortment of candies and chocolates. 

8. Yellowstone River Rafting


  • Location: Yellowstone River (multiple launch points)
  • Website: Contact local outfitters like Flying Pig Adventures
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (for best water levels)
  • Cost: Varies depending on outfitter and trip length
  • Reservations: Recommended

Feel the rush as you navigate the rapids of the Yellowstone River on an exhilarating rafting trip for every member of your family. Whether you prefer a gentle float or a white-knuckle adventure, local outfitters offer a variety of rafting experiences to suit your thrill level. It’s a unique perspective of the river and its surrounding landscapes, with plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities along the way.

Insider Tips for Your Gardiner Adventure

Before you pack your bags and head for the hills, here are some insider tips to make the most of your Gardiner getaway:

  • Time it right: Think twice about visiting during the peak summer months. Instead, consider the shoulder seasons of spring or fall. The crowds thin out, the temperatures become more pleasant, and the landscape bursts with vibrant colors. You’ll have more space to breathe on the trails, snag that perfect campsite, and truly savor the tranquility of this mountain town.
  • Wildlife etiquette: Yellowstone’s wildlife is one of its biggest draws, but remember, these animals are wild, not domesticated. Always maintain a safe distance and resist the urge to approach or feed them. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to capture those incredible photos, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Pack like a pro: Montana’s weather is known for its dramatic shifts. One minute you’re basking in sunshine, the next you’re battling a sudden snow flurry. Pack for all types of weather, layering your clothing so you can adjust as needed. Don’t forget essentials like sturdy hiking boots, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen. Watch out possible wildfires during dry thunderstorms in the summer months. 
  • Embrace the local flavor: Gardiner isn’t just a gateway to Yellowstone; it’s a community with its own unique character and charm. Support local businesses by dining at family-owned restaurants, shopping for handcrafted souvenirs, and booking tours with outfitters who prioritize sustainable practices. You’ll not only get a more authentic experience but also contribute to the town’s vibrant economy.
  • Bonus Tip: Strike up conversations with the locals. Gardiner folks are known for their friendliness and are always eager to share their insider knowledge about the area’s best-kept secrets. They might point you towards a hidden trail with breathtaking views, a tucked-away fishing hole teeming with trout, or the most delicious huckleberry pie you’ve ever tasted.

Your Gateway to Yellowstone and Beyond

Gardiner, Montana, is more than just a convenient stop on your way to Yellowstone National Park—it’s a captivating destination in its own right. This charming town offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure, natural wonders, and genuine Western hospitality.

From the awe-inspiring landscapes of Yellowstone to the hidden hot springs and scenic trails that weave through the surrounding wilderness, Gardiner has something to ignite every traveler’s sense of adventure. Whether you’re casting a line into the legendary Yellowstone River, soaking in mineral-rich pools under a starry sky, or simply savoring a locally sourced meal at a cozy restaurant, you’ll discover that Gardiner has a way of capturing your heart.

Start planning your getaway today. Let the captivating landscapes, thrilling activities, and welcoming community of this Montana gem create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember, your unforgettable adventure starts in Gardiner, Montana—the gateway to Yellowstone and a world of natural wonders waiting to be explored.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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