The Holiday Inn has an original 1903 rail car from the Oregon Short Line, so named because it was the shortest distance between Oregon and Wyoming. Part of the Union Pacific Railway it's first run was in 1884, until it became it's own identity in 1897, then repurchased by the new Union Pacific Railroad in 1899. The tie in to West Yellowstone was in 1907 and many visitors to Yellowstone National Park entered via the rails. The Oregon Short Line is no longer in existence.
The 1903 rail car on exhibit at the Holiday Inn is a mini museum of how people traveled on railroads and has all original furniture and appointments. When you tour through the rail car, you have this desire to wash your hands in the original wash basin, sit for a meal at the dining table, or relax in the parlor portion. Railroad buffs, those with an interest in the early train transportation interiors, and for children who will delight in looking at this relic of the early 1900's. The best part is there is no cost to walk the rail car. All Aboard!
If you enter Yellowstone National Park from the west entrance, make sure you stop at the Parks visitor center in West Yellowstone. It is located with the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce on the road to the park and only a block out of town.
The Rangers are most helpful, with maps, things to see and do in the park and any warnings. This is a big plus for making good use of your day in the park. I found that a walking stick was most useful while inside the park walking to and from all the geysers, mud pots, and animal sightings.
The West Yellowstone IMAX Theater has a six-story screen and stereo surround sound. A standard film here is Yellowstone, which is a good introduction or enhancement to your visit to Yellowstone National Park. The film features the history, wildlife, beauty, and geothermal activity in the park. Besides this standard feature, the theater also always has a number of other options. When we were there, we had a choice of two other films, and we chose to watch Journey into Amazing Caves. This film followed Nancy Aulenbach and Dr. Hazel Barton along with two cavers as they explored unusual caves. Two of the caves that were explored were ice caves in Greenland, and underwater caves in the jungles of Mexico. This film was not just a look at caves, but also filled with interesting scientific facts, covering such topics as the microorganisms that lived within these caves, and clues that would give us hints into Earth’s past.
The Yellowstone Historic Center is a small museum, located in a 1909 Union Pacific Railroad depot. The museum covers the Yellowstone area’s history from early tourism to today. This includes the railroad history, and continues to the 1988 fires and how it has effected the park's ecology. Exhibits contain historic artifacts, including stagecoaches, trains, and buses, as well as wildlife specimens, such as the legendary grizzly bear, Old Snaggletooth, historic photos, and a variety of films.
My second photo shows one of the historic stage coaches within the museum.
Although Yellowstone’s West Entrance begins just outside the little town of West Yellowstone, you will need to drive 14 miles to Madison Junction to get on the park’s main figure eight road.
When in Yellowstone, don't just go to Old Faithful and leave. There is SO much more. One thing that is fun is to take the Old Faithful Lodge historic tour, which is quite interesting. If you don't want to do this, at least go in and look around. It is the most outstanding log structure I have ever seen. Besides the Old Faithful geyser basin, Norris, the hottest geyser basin, is very nice. Eucinas geyser’s eruption is no longer predictable, if it does go off while you are in Norris, be sure to see it. Although located on the east side of the park, therefore a fairly long drive from West Yellowstone, the Canyon area and it's falls are a not to be missed activity. Artists Point is my favorite look out point, and a must see view, although Lookout Point is also a very nice view of the Lower Falls. Inspiration Point will give you a wonderful view of the canyon. You can also hike down to the base of the lower falls along the Uncle Tom's trail. It's quite a down/up walk with lots of stairs, but if you are up to it a nice one. We took our son on Uncle Tom’s when he was about 8, and his tongue was hanging out by the time we got down there----and he still had to go up. If you have time another interesting area to visit is the Mammoth Hot Springs area and Tower Falls. For wildlife check out Lamar Valley on the northeast side of the park, and Haden Valley on the east side. If you want a special dinner out, the Old Faithful Inn, Snow Lodge dinning room, Lake Hotel, and the lodge at Mammoth all have excellent restaurants.
For detailed information on what to see, where to eat, and many other suggestions and tips including a few short videos, visit my Yellowstone VT pages at Yellowstone National Park, My Neighbor.
Open 365 days a year, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is a wonderful place to learn about grizzly bears and wolves. This is a non profit wildlife park and educational facility. At the center you will have the opportunity to view live grizzly bears and wolves, as well as visit their small museum, and bookstore. The animals that you observe here came to the center because they could not remain in the wild. Many of the bears, for example, were becoming nuisance bears or were orphaned cubs of nuisance bears, so that they had learned to obtain food from people. These bears can become very aggressive toward people, as well as damaging property as they search for food. These animals have all been rescued, from what probably would have ended in the animal having to be destroyed.
Your admission is for two days, and you may find this to be a plus, as each day brings a schedule of activities, and you may wish to return to see a program that you missed on the first day. Some of the activities are observing both wolf and grizzly feedings, listening to talks about bears and wolves, bear pepper spray demonstrations, presentations in the theater to explore various topics, birds of prey are sometimes presented, as well as a variety of children’s programs. One fun activity for children is the Keeper Kids, which allows children between the ages of 5 and 12 to help staff members hide food for the bears in the bear habitat. This is done on a first-come-first-served basis as no more than 30 children are allowed to participate per feeding session. You must sign up with the Naturalist in the habitat viewing area on the day that you wish to have your child take part. There is a small fee per child, which will help to support the animals and education programs offered at the center. Feel free to call the center to get information about the day’s schedule
My second photo is of the entrance to the center, the third and fourth photos are of gray wolves, and the last photo is of the center's museum.
Check out my very short video of a wolf at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
West Yellowstone is at the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Originally, I intended to go to the Visitor's Center and possibly get lunch before we entered the park. But we were too impatient to get there to wait.
The entrance is still in Montana, but after you go a couple of miles you are in Wyoming
From the west entrance to the Old Faithful Inn is about 30 miles. On the way, we saw our first bison and some thermal features (photo 2). There were even some informational signs along the way about the routes people took to get into the park (photo 4). Part of the sign (photo 5) says
Stagecoaches traveled this route from 1880 to 1917. Early service was from Virginia City to the Lower Geyser Basin. The 95 mile trip took 16 hours. Stages later met trains at Monida, Montana. In 1907 the railroad reached West Yellowstone.
The Gusher, on the corner of Madison and Dunraven, opposite the Stagecoach, comprises a sit-down restaurant, take away, bar and casino.
This is an ideal combination, order your pizza from the restaurant and then have it "delivered" to the adjacent bar. Here the beer is mainly bottled and canned but a bottle of Fat Tire passed in convivial company witha a couple of guys and a friendly barman is the way to do it!
The pizza was a little pricey, though perhaps I went OTT on the toppings, but was really delish!
During my visit to Yellowstone the bar at The Stagecoach Inn was definitely the place to be, even on my first night when it was relatively quiet there was a pleasant buzz to the place.
On my second night the place was heaving and there was an excellent singer/guitarist playing a mix of easy rock witha hint of country. As well as the live musical entertainment there was an active poker school going on in the corner and a busy pool table.
The long bar was crowded with a mix of locals and visitors and the ASHTRAYS required constant emptying! Add this to a decent range of beers including several local (ish) microbrews this was definitely my sort of bar!
I'm a huge fan of I-MAX films, the film "Yellowstone" is an excellent way to get a more intimate and historical look at the park, and it is shown exclusively at the West Yellowstone I-MAX theatre. (If you like the film you can purchase a copy of it in the gift shop.)
Each year the theatre rotates in other I-MAX releases for alternate movie selection. (For current listing see website) They also feature an expansive giftshop and concessions stand. Should you be caught on a bad weather day this is a nice way to continue your vacation while staying dry.
$8.00 Adult/ $6.00 Child (3-12)/ under 3 FREE (Group rates available)
**TIP** Find a flyer for the I-MAX theatre around town, even at the Visitor's Center (across the parking lot) for $1.00 off an adult/ or $.50 off of a child admission to the "Yellowstone" movie.
Whitewater rafting is an awesome addition to any visit to Montana. The waterplay and the views makes for a great day out. Six to a raft means that your whole family or all your buddies can pile in for a wild ride.
I had a great time rafting with Geyser Whitewater Expeditions, I went alone and was welcomed onto a boat of east coast women out for a trip away from the men and had a blast! The 1/2 day Lower Whitewater trip was the one I got in on and reccomend it highly.
Leave times are set all throughout the day and are reasonably priced for what you get. (Safety gear is included) The raft guides are experienced and a bunch of fun to get to know, if you meet Dan tell him Anjuli said hallo!
I grew up whitewater rafting in Idaho and still found that the tips and the thorough attention to detail gave me new knowledge afterwards. A great time for newcomers as wel!
Kayaking trips are also available, bike rentals, and even horseback riding can be arranged.
You can't help but have fun when out splashing through the Gallatin River!!
Visiting the National Park is likely your #1 priority but if you're a fellow hiker and are looking for amazing views outside the park stop by W. Yellowstone's Chamber of Commerce/ Visitor's Center (near the park entrance) and grab a map of Hebgen Lake hiking trails. The trails are all around the lake and the best groomed and fastest to get to is the Red Canyon Trail, a lovely little stream runs along side of it most of the way and once at the trail interchange at the top you'l get a nice mountaintop view of other peaks and the lake below. Some of the others are not so well groomed and you can plan on picking out pokey plants from your pant legs. I've hiked alone up many of them but remember it's best to hike in pairs, this is bear country and you'll want to make noise when in tall plants and near streams so as not to surprise anyone (it's a good idea to carry bear spray for extra protection). If you're feeling like a do-gooder bring along a spare bag and pick listed plants along the trail and carry them out to be thrown away, grooming is a team effort as the Forest Service doesn't always have the funding to keep them clear of overpopulating nuisance plants. As always when hiking carry lots of water, AND drink it! It's very easy to get dehydrated especially in the intense mountain sunlight and high elevations. Have fun and pack out what you pack in! You may have a lucky experience like I did and come very close to a giant Golden Eagle, and you'll have a good time following game trails. The trails are open to hikers and horses and it's a great walk for your dog too! Off-road vehicles should plan on other routes.
A non-profit preserve housing grizzly bears and gray wolves that are unable to live in the wild. An excellent opportunity to learn about and view these animals close-up. If it were not for this center, these animals would have been euthanized as most were encroaching on residential areas and posed a threat to residents.
Open all year including holidays from 8:00 a.m. to dusk.
Adults (13 and over) $8.50
Seniors (62 and over) $8.00
Children (5-12) $4.00
Children (under 5) free
Grizzly & Wolf Center - During our visit, school children were allowed to enter the bear compound with bears removed of course. They proceeded to hide apple pieces and other snacks underneath logs and rocks. Afterwards the bears returned to the compound to sniff out the treats which they did very quickly. All snacks hidden were found but it was enjoyable to watch the bears in action.
Where else can you get up close to a once wild Grizzly bear or wolf. This is not a zoo and these are not tame or trained animals. These animals were brought here because they were problem animals and they could not be returned to the wild. Most of these animals would have been put down if not for this place.