When summer comes around, we get excited about sunshine and exploring. One of the best day trips from the Headwaters is a drive to Yellowstone, the country’s first national park. Gardiner and West Yellowstone are both less than two hours away from Three Forks, so you can even make the loop through for a change of scenery as you go and return. Here are our favorite stops along the way to help you really make a day of it.
To the West Entrance
Ennis makes a great brunch stop, with a few boutiques worth browsing and some spots to stop for a nibble. If you need a snack on the way back from the park, we recommend Ennis Sugar High for homestyle burgers and shakes.
Virginia City is worth the detour for a little wonder. This preserved ghost town is still the county seat today, though it bustled far more in its heyday (it boasted a population of 190 on the 2010 census). As a National Historic Landmark District, this area is steeped in history, from the Vigilantes to the state’s first brewery. You can wander the streets and peer into the buildings as you pass, many of which are open with period displays and information.
Quake Lake was the site of an unexpected night of terror in 1959 when an earthquake of a 7.5 magnitude struck, changing the landscape and many lives that night. You can follow the track of this dramatic story as you drive, making stops at the Visitor Center and other significant sites marked with interpretive displays.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone gives visitors a safe and ethical, up-close look at some of the large predators in the park. Stop by for a quick look, or stay for a program to learn even more.
to the North Entrance
Madison Buffalo Jump
For a mini detour off of I-90, stop at Madison Buffalo Jump for a little history, a leg stretch and some mountain views. Native Americans used the bluffs here to kill bison for food, long before the arrival of heavy hunting weapons.
Shopping, fine dining, coffee to refuel, and more to explore makes Bozeman a perfect stop as you head to the park entrance at Gardiner. There’s plenty to do here, so it even merits a day trip of its own on another day.
The town of Livingston embodies Western chic, with shops and dining options to check out before you make your way south off of I-90 and head through the Paradise Valley to the park.
The Paradise Valley demands photo stops, with its jagged mountain peaks, green river corridor along the Yellowstone, exciting geology and plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities. You may see bison and elk herds before you even hit the park boundary, so don’t feel the need to speed through! This is all part of the Yellowstone adventure.
Before you head into the park, take a few minutes to check out Gardiner. Food, outdoor outfitters and a few souvenir shops make a worthwhile break from driving. You can duck into the bookstore at Yellowstone Forever, the park’s nonprofit partner, and know that you’re supporting a good cause with your purchases.
Now that you are in the know about where to go from the Sacajawea Hotel down toward Yellowstone, let us know how we can best accommodate your vacation to Montana. There are so many beautiful things to see, fun things to do, and great food to eat along the way; come and enjoy a nice getaway to Big Sky Country and Yellowstone National Park.
If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- Sacajawea: Better than a Bed and Breakfast
- Sacajawea Hotel History
- Why a Sacajawea Cottage Makes for a Perfect Weekend Retreat