10 Things to Do in West Yellowstone (+Tips)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: March 29th, 2024

Yellowstone National Park is a place everyone should see at least once. But if the crowds are keeping you from looking around, then we’re here to tell you about an entirely different kind of adventure waiting right outside the park gates: the charming little town of West Yellowstone. 

Top Things to Do in West Yellowstone

Yellowstone’s the main attraction, no doubt about it, but don’t miss out on the awesome adventures outside of the park! Whether you’re a family looking to make memories, a couple needing some time away, or an outdoorsy type wanting that special something only Montana can give, West Yellowstone’s got you covered. 

You’ll have the opportunity to see wildlife, get a taste of Wild West history, and breathe in the vast expanse that is Yellowstone.

Here are a few suggestions we think you’ll love: 

1. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Image Source: Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

  • Location: 201 South Canyon Street, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
  • Type: Non-profit wildlife sanctuary and educational center
  • Estimated Budget: $16.50 per adult, discounts for seniors and children
  • Best for: Families, animal lovers, anyone interested in conservation
  • Highlights: See rescued grizzly bears and wolves up close, interactive exhibits, educational programs on Yellowstone wildlife

Legends of the American West, the wolf and the grizzly bear are, next to the bison, some of the most sought-after creatures in the West, but seeing them out in the wild is a long shot. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is where you’re guaranteed some face time. Watch wolves play and work with their pack, learn how the center works to protect grizzlies, and get right up close with these awesome animals. A must-do, especially if you’ve got little animal lovers in your bunch.

2. Museum of the Yellowstone

Museum of the Yellowstone

Image Source: Museum Yellowstone

  • Location: 104 Yellowstone Ave, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
  • Type: History museum
  • Estimated Budget: $12 per adult, discounts for seniors and children.
  • Best for: History buffs, families, those wanting a deeper understanding of Yellowstone’s past
  • Highlights: Exhibits on early exploration, stagecoach era, vintage photographs, recreated historic cabins

Curious about history in the Yellowstone region? Then listen up! This museum takes you back to when settlers first explored this place. Come see the golden days of stagecoaches, and outlaws. Check out old-timey photos, wagons, and exhibits that bring those early adventures to life. It’s a fun way to get some historic perspective.

3. Hit the Trails: Hiking and Biking Galore

lower loop tour from west yellowstone

If scenic trails and exhilarating hikes are your thing, West Yellowstone has you covered. Rent a bike and roll along Hebgen Lake or the Madison River for some enviable postcard views. Take an easy stroll the whole family can enjoy, or take some tougher climbs for more experienced hikers. Swing by the Yellowstone Lodge for the best trails and activities.

4. Playmill Theatre

the playmill theatre

  • Location: 29 Madison Ave, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
  • Type: Live theater
  • Estimated Budget: Ticket prices vary per show, typically $20-$45
  • Best for: Entertainment seekers, couples, a fun night out with a unique West Yellowstone vibe
  • Highlights: Locally-produced comedies, musicals, and melodramas, over 50 years of tradition

Ready to add some fun to your Montana getaway? For over 50 years, the Playmill Theatre has been putting on hilarious comedies, lively musicals, and old-fashioned melodramas (you know, the type where you can boo the bad guy!).  It helps give your trip that small-town charm that makes a West Yellowstone trip extra special.

5.  Horseback Adventures

Horseback Riding

  • Location: Several outfitters in the area
  • Type: Outdoor adventure
  • Estimated Budget: Prices vary depending on outfitter and length of trip
  • Best for: All ages and experiences (outfitters cater to different levels), those wanting a classic Western experience
  • Highlights: Scenic trail rides in meadows and mountains, possible wildlife sightings, expert guides

Nothing screams “Wild West” quite like saddling up! Local wranglers offer rides for everyone, from gentle first-timer trots to longer trips for the more experienced. Imagine riding through meadows, splashing across streams, and maybe even spotting wildlife – it’s the classic Montana experience.

6. Reel It In: Fly Fishing on the Madison River

give fly-fishing a try

  • Location: Madison River, access points throughout the area
  • Type: Outdoor recreation (fly fishing)
  • Estimated Budget: Fishing license required (available online or locally), guided trips from around $400 for a half-day, gear rental extra if needed.
  • Best for: Anglers from beginners to experienced
  • Highlights: World-renowned fly fishing, chance to catch trout in a spectacular setting

Fly fishing’s pretty much a way of life out here, and the Madison River’s some sacred ground for anglers. If you’re new to all of this, there are plenty of guides to show you the ropes. For you experienced folks, grab your gear and go snag some of those famous Montana trout. Don’t forget your license, though!

7.  Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo Grounds


Image Source: West Yellowstone Rodeo

Summer means it’s rodeo time in West Yellowstone! Get those tickets early, grab your seat, and soak in all the small-town energy. Cheer on the bull riders, gasp at the barrel racing, and let your little ones try their hand at a calf scramble! This is pure, real-deal, Wild West action.

8. Visit Earthquake Lake

earthquake lake montana

  • Location: About a 30-minute drive from West Yellowstone, along US-287
  • Type: Natural landmark, history site
  • Estimated Budget: Free if self-exploring
  • Best for: Those fascinated by geology, nature enthusiasts, a reflective and scenic spot
  • Highlights: Learn about the 1959 earthquake, see landslide remnants, ghost trees in the lake

Just a short drive from town lies Earthquake Lake, a haunting and gorgeous reminder of how nature works. In 1959, an earthquake set off a landslide, making this lake and completely changing the local geography. Seeing the ghost trees poking up from the water is sure to make you stop and think about the ever-changing world of Yellowstone country.

9. Foodie Finds: Beyond the Tourist Traps

Like the rest of the country, you’ll find burger joints in West Yellowstone. But why eat the same burger you can get anywhere when you can try places like the Buffalo Bar? Serving up delicious food, like buffalo chili and buffalo streak, this place strives to give you the flavor of the West. And don’t worry, they serve food other than buffalo, too! After dinner, enjoy a nice huckleberry milkshake (a Montana must-have) at the Slippery Otter Pub. Get out, explore, and find that real taste of Montana wherever you can.

10. Yellowstone Aerial Adventures

Yellowstone Aerial Adventures

Image Source: Yellowstone Aerial Adventures

  • Location: 105 South Faithful St, Yellowstone, MT 59758
  • Type: Outdoor adventure park
  • Estimated Budget: Prices starting around $80
  • Best for: Thrill seekers, families with older kids, groups
  • Highlights: Ziplines through the trees, aerial obstacle courses, mountain views

This park is truly a sight to behold! Fly through the trees on ziplines as you conquer obstacle courses high above the ground. It’s also a great opportunity to take in the awesome views of the mountains all around. Perfect for adventurous families, groups, or even those going solo looking for a thrill.

Tips for Your West Yellowstone Adventure:

  • Time it Smart: Summer brings in the crowds, so think about visiting in the spring or fall – fewer folks, gorgeous colors and, in some cases, better deals!
  • Book Early Bird: Especially in summer, places to stay and fun stuff to do fill up quickly. Planning ahead is your friend!
  • Layers are Key: Mountain weather changes on a dime. Be ready for warm sun, an out-of-nowhere chill, and maybe a sprinkle or two (right in the middle of a bright, clear day!).
  • Respect the Wildlife: Give those bison a WIDE space. Remember, they live here; you’re just passing through.
  • Go Local: Eat at those family-run spots, check out the shops… it makes a big difference for this town.

Final Thoughts

West Yellowstone isn’t just somewhere you drive through on your way to the park. It’s a place to slow your pace, get back in touch with nature, feel that Western spirit, and make memories that’ll stick with you longer than any geyser selfie. So, the next time you’re Yellowstone-bound, stop and explore a little. Who knows what surprises you may find when you let the magic of West Yellowstone work on you.


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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