12 Amazing Things To Do In Gardiner, Montana [+ Where To Stay]

Gardiner, Montana is a beautiful part of Montana right outside the entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Below we share our recommendations on things to do in Gardiner, MT plus what to do in Yellowstone, where to stay and where to eat!

Things To Do In Gardiner, Montana

Yellowstone Wild Tours

Yellowstone Wild Tours

If there is one thing you do while in Gardiner this should be it. The Yellowstone Wild Tour team is amazing and so knowledgable. They aren’t just a guide taking you on a tour, but people that are truly invested in the park, understand the landscape and the animals and even volunteer in the park to learn more about the animals and their behavior.

You take off early in the morning between 5-6am, but it is well worth it! They then take you out to see what they can find. For us it was a pack of wolves hunting an elk that they eventually took down. We watched for over 7 minutes while the pack singled out and hunted down a particular elk.

The final kill happened behind a hill, but we know it happened since about an hour later we saw one of the wolves come out with its mouth covered in blood to share the food with the pups from the pack.

It was a crazy and unbelievable experience! One of the only reasons we could see it was because our guide had spotting scopes for everyone to use and also an adapter for his phone so he could put it on the scope and we could all watch what was happening and get it recorded.

Before that we had been watching a grizzly bear in the field while a herd of Elk came through. This all happened before 8am and was just the start to our day. After that we saw 3 more Grizzly Bears (one was a cub) a Black Bear, a mountain goat, pronghorns, bison, birds, bald eagles, and probably some more I forgot.

Yellowstone Wild Tours Bear

It was simply amazing!! After all that craziness of the morning he had hot chocolate and coffee and huckleberry scones for everyone. So we sat and ate our breakfast while we watched a bear through the scope. Like I said unbelievable!

The Rest Of The Day

We spent the day with our guide showing us all around Yellowstone and tracking down animals, along with a lunch break, that he had prepared for us, set out on a picnic table in the park.

It truly gave us another perspective on Yellowstone and everything that is happening – even though you can’t always see it with the naked eye.

Tips: Bring warmer clothes then you think you need and layer up. We went in the beginning of October and it would have been better for our kids if we had snow-pants and boots for them. Then as they day went on it warmed up and we could have stripped down. Also bring a pair of hiking shoes in case you go out to hike at all.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

Yellowstone Hot Springs

The Yellowstone Hot Springs are just outside of town and one of the top things to do near Yellowstone National Park! It is in a canyon and surrounded by mountains. There are hot pools, warm pools and a cold pool. It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon and it was great that we could be in a nice big warm pool while our kids jumped between the hot and cold pool!

They have a nice changing area here so it is easy to get your suit on – but bring something warm to wear as you walk out to the pool and then back to the locker room! Also I would recommend a bottle of water – we all got pretty thirsty since we were here for so long :).

OTO Ranch Hike

A 2.6 mile roundtrip hike to the oldest dude ranch in Montana. You hike through the Custer Gallatin National Forest to the dude ranch – where you can walk through and explore the old buildings! A fun way to spend your morning or afternoon.

Shopping downtown

Gardiner has a variety of shops in their downtown area. From art galleries to sporting goods, a general store and a sweet shop.

Heritage And Resource Center

The Heritage and Resource Center is home to a variety of research and documentation on Yellowstone. You can tour the lobby and temporary exhibits set up by the National Park Service when you visit.

Yellowstone Raft Company

When in Gardiner, Montana plan a rafting trip down the Yellowstone River! We opted to do the half day 2 hour rafting trip. We hit a few rapids but nothing crazy at all and at one point they guide told us we could get in the water with life jackets on and just float down the easy rapids.

It was a great trip and highly recommend it with people that don’t really want to do any big rapids. We did have to carry the boat down to the water and you will get wet so be ready for that!

There is also the Montana Whitewater Rafting & Yellowstone Zipline Tours. Be sure to shop around for the best price.

Horseback Riding

Or check out Paradise Rafting for the Paddle and Ride option where you do some rafting and a horseback riding tour. Horseback riding in the Montana countryside is gorgeous!

Fly Fishing

You could book a fly fishing tour or just rent fly fishing gear and go out on your own on the Yellowstone River. You will need a fishing license and if you have never fly fished before I would highly recommend you get a lesson before going out on your own.

Stop in or call Parks Fly Shop for more details.

Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs

The park is amazing so make sure to set time aside to explore. When you are in Gardiner you are really close to the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park. If you have more time you can continue on to West Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Tower-Roosevelt and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone just be prepared that it is a long drive to hit all of these parts of the park and isn’t really doable in one day

Roosevelt Arch

Roosevelt Arch

You will drive through the arch (named after Theodore Roosevelt who happened to be vacationing there when it was being built) to get into the park. Don’t just drive through it though, park and walk through the door – where you can stop and look up into the arch!

Mammoth Hot Springs

Just a few miles from Gardiner, Montana is the Mammoth Hot Springs area of Yellowstone National Park. There is a whole town here with housing for Yellowstone employees, a small convenience store, restaurants, hotels, Fort Yellowstone and even a doctor’s office. Beyond that there are a couple really cool things you want to check out while you are here.

Mammoth Terraces

Mammoth Terraces

The Mammoth Terraces are an unreal display of hydrothermal features. There is a boardwalk trail you can walk on that will take you up and through the terraces. You can just drive by, but don’t. Stop get out and walk on the trail to get up close to the beautiful terraces.

Boiling River**

**The Boiling River was closed due to the flooding. But I want to keep it on here in case it does open again at some point.

There are a couple places in Yellowstone where you can get into the water. This is one of them! You park in a lot just north of Mammoth and then you walk about a half mile down to the entrance of the Boiling River where the cold water from the Gardiner River (a tributary of the Yellowstone River) mixes with the Boiling River hot springs.

It is a unique experience! Be sure to check if it is open – as it does close when water levels are too high. Also, wear shoes that you can wear into the river. It’s rocky on the bottom and moving fast, so doing it in bare feet isn’t so pleasant.

Elk Spotting

Elk Spotting

Elk love to hang out in Mammoth and will literally be just hanging out on the lawn by the restaurants there or outside the visitor center. They look really chill, but they are still wild animals so keep your distance!

You can also see them – like pictured above right in Gardiner, MT! This picture was taken right outside of the north entrance to Yellowstone.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the awesomeness that is Yellowstone?! We get it! The park is huge and there is so much to see and do. We have visited the park over 6 different times and have put together 1, 3 and 7 day guides to help you plan your ultimate trip to Yellowstone:

Where To Stay

Sunny Slope Lodge

Sunny Slope Lodge in Gardiner Montana

This is a beautiful house up on the mountain that has windows everywhere looking out over the mountains, a huge living room kitchen area, an upstairs loft area with an office, a seating area and multiple bedrooms. It is the perfect place to come back to after exploring Gardiner, Montana or the park. The only problem is you may not want to leave in the morning, but instead find yourself snuggling in and just enjoying the house!

It would also be a great location for a multiple family vacation as there are multiple bedrooms and a downstairs area. Lisa, the host, does an awesome job and everything you need is there and ready for you.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

This campground offers beauty and convenience! Only 8 miles north of the entrance, it’s just a quick drive to Yellowstone. Relax in the pools after a long day of hiking and sightseeing and enjoy the breathtaking views of Paradise Valley.

Check out these awesome Montana VRBO and Airbnb options too!

Where To Eat

Wanderland Cafe

Wanderland Cafe in Gardiner Montana

Gardiner, Montana is a pretty old city, but for this cafe they had to build a new building since the old one was basically crumbling and had to be taken down. The inside is really cute and modern and the food was delicious.

They are part of Taste Your Place so anything they could source locally, they did. Finding good food in Yellowstone can be a challenge so it is nice to know that there is a restaurant like this in Gardiner.

Gardiner Montana Market

If you just want to buy your own food to bring back to your place then head over to the Gardiner Market – a local grocery store where you can pick up the things that you need.

Visiting Yellowstone Park is of course amazing, but there are so many cool outdoor activities and things to do outside of the park too. If you are coming to Yellowstone be sure to make time to stay in Gardiner, Montana and explore all the fun things to do here!

This part of the United States is so beautiful. You are going to want to plan to spend a lot of time here. Here are more places that we recommend you visit in the area:

23 Exciting and Fun Things To Do In Bozeman, MT

Best Things to do in Livingston, Montana and Paradise Valley

9 Awesome Things To Do In West Yellowstone

A Guide To The Best Yellowstone Vacation and Beyond

15 Amazing Things To Do In Stanley, Idaho

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From epic hot springs to awe-inspiring wildlife tours & great places to eat there are so many amazing things to do in Gardiner, Montana & the surrounding area.
From epic hot springs to awe-inspiring wildlife tours & great places to eat there are so many amazing things to do in Gardiner, Montana & the surrounding area.

In partnership with Yellowstone Country and Gardiner.


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