Bozeman sits smack between two entrances to Yellowstone National Park, the north entrance, at Gardiner, MT and the west entrance in West Yellowstone, MT, making it the perfect area to set up home base. Either entrance can be done as a day trip, an overnight stay, or you could spend a few days looping through the park ending up back in Bozeman.
Traveling by car allows flexibility, but for those who would rather sit back and enjoy the scenery, bus service is available.
Bozeman to West Yellowstone (West Entrance)
US 191 S through Gallatin Canyon, 90.9 miles, 1 h 41 min
If you haven’t experienced Gallatin Canyon, get ready to be awed. The majestic rock walls line either side of the road, the river flows directly next to it, and lush meadows pop up along the way. From Bozeman, the road winds along the Gallatin River to the turn off to Big Sky. If you fish, plan to make some stops along the way. This stretch is also known for whitewater rafting and kayaking. If you don’t have time to participate, at least pull over to watch some of the excitement. Travel in the winter can be slower due to inclement weather through the canyon. About half way to Yellowstone, you’ll come to a stoplight at the Big Sky turnoff. (As they say, sometimes it’s good to get off the beaten path!) If you continue straight, you’ll arrive in West Yellowstone. Stay on the main street and it will take you right to the entrance. This entrance is closest to Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake.
US 287 S through Ennis, 125 miles, 2 h 10 min
Though a bit longer, this route to West Yellowstone is just as scenic, but often the roads are better in the winter. Heading out past 4 corners to Norris, you’ll drive through rolling hills with mountain backdrops, following the Madison River for a spell. At Norris, (we highly recommend the hot springs) turn left to Ennis, (a fishing mecca) and continue on until you reach US 191 S. turn right and you’ll end up in West Yellowstone.
Bozeman to Gardiner (North Entrance)
I-90 E to Livingston then US-89 S to Gardiner, 77.9 miles, 1 h 18 min
Head over the pass to Livingston (maybe stop for a bite) and then through the aptly named Paradise Valley to Gardiner, MT. Here you’ll pass through Roosevelt Arch into the park. Just inside the park, you’ll find Mammoth Hot Springs, the Boiling River and the Lamar Valley, a wolf watching mecca.
If driving isn’t your thing, KARST stage offers year round service from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to West Yellowstone via Highway 191.
Charter service is available to Mammoth Hot Springs, just outside of Gardiner. Day tours are also available.
Getting to Bozeman
If you’re driving, be ready to be wowed. The mountain vistas are breathtaking from every direction.
For more information, check out the Yellowstone National Park Road Information.