Things to Do in West Yellowstone National Park

Image may be subject to copyright
The Madison River Valley is a stunning place to stay, with close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, our guests typically make a least one day trip to the park entering through West Yellowstone. The natural beauty and experience of a visit to Yellowstone National Park starts with the scenic drive to the park and can include a host of adventure from the junior ranger program and guided tours, to expert level hikes, discover what makes Yellowstone National Park a must see:
Explore Thermal Basins 
Over half of the world's active geysers are found within Yellowstone National Park. More than 10,000 active hydrothermal geologic features have been found in the park including: hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, and geysers. Follow boardwalks and maintained trails to explore these wonders up close.
Hiking Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park has over 900 miles of hiking trails, ranging from beginner to expert level hikes. The beauty of the natural surroundings can take on many distinct sites to see within Yellowstone National Park.

Many of the trails are 7,000 feet above sea level & can have snow well into July! Choose from day hikes in the Canyon area and enjoy wildflowers, lakes, mountain views, & more, or explore the Yellowstone Lake area with lake views, featuring Mud Volcano Trail. If these don't appeal there is the ever popular Mammoth Hot Springs & Old Faithful day hikes a must see for first time visitors.

Wildlife Watching in Yellowstone National Park

With over 3,000 square miles of natural space in Yellowstone National Park one of the best wild features in YNP is the abundant wildlife!

With good timing and a bit of luck explorers can see a host of animals from multiple types of bears, beautiful elk, pronghorn, mule deer, bison, wolves, big horn sheep, foxes and more. Touring, hiking and exploring in Yellowstone is never the same twice.

Of course, no post about the wildlife in Yellowstone can go without a safety warning it is crucial for people to keep their distance, please read the safety guidelines before you explore!

Although the larger mammals usually steal the show, adventurers also love bird watching, curious amphibians and even the sometimes less desired reptiles. These experiences will create memories that last a lifetime!   
Located an hour south of Ennis in West Yellowstone

The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is an AZA accredited Not-For-Profit wildlife park and educational facility. OPEN 365 days a year, including all holidays, (GWDC bears do NOT hibernate). The center features Grizzle bears, river otters, wolf encounters and a host of other area wildlife. Along with these animal encounters there are a host of educational learning opportunities from exploring the myth, art, literature, history and folklore with the bear scientists, outdoorsmen and researchers through thematic areas, taxidermic mounts in naturalistic settings. Admission is good for 2 consecutive days!

Image may be subject to copyright
The Hebgen Lake Earthquake moved at 100 mph and in less than 1 minute, over 80 million tons of rock crashed into the narrow canyon, blocking the Madison River and forming Earthquake Lake. This earth- changing event, measured 7.5 on the Richter scale. At the time The Hebgen Lake Earthquake was second largest earthquake to occur in the lower 48 states in the 20th century. Twenty-eight people lost their lives in the event.

In 1967, the Forest Service's Earthquake Lake Visitor Center opened its doors and today, the center provides interpretive services for more than 50,000 visitors annually. The natural attractions and the easily- seen effects of the strongest earthquake in the Rocky mountains has made this area one of the outstanding scenic and geological study areas in the west.

The center provides a panoramic view of the mountain that fell and the lake that was formed.  This facility hosts interpretive displays on earthquakes, plate tectonics, and a working seismograph.  In the observatory, scheduled movies and talks, explain the story of the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake. Visit our bookstore which is operated in partnership with the Yellowstone Forever.  There are restrooms, outside interpretive signs and a walking path to the Memorial Boulder. 

The Earthquake Lake Visitor Center is open daily from June through mid-September.  Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone: 406 682-7620


Day Trip #1 –Horseback Riding/ Outdoor Hiking
Head "up Jack Creek" to the Wolf Pack Outfitters for a trail ride or park at the trailhead for a beautiful day of hiking in the shadow of the Spanish Peaks and Lone Mountain.

Day Trip #2 – Golf in Ennis
Start your day with a great breakfast at Yesterday's Soda Fountain located at the Ennis Pharmacy followed by a round (or two) of golf at Madison Meadows Golf Course – call ahead for tee times.

Day Trip #3 – Explore Ennis
Sleep a little late and stop at the Maples Coffee for a breakfast sandwich or sweet breakfast breads. Then head on down to Main Street and check out the shops: The Trading Post and Plain Janes for unique clothing and gifts. Benji's is a must for silver and Native American jewelry lovers – the best part, all jewelry is 50%.

Day Trip #4 – Lewis & Clark Caverns
Have a Lewis & Clark adventure today! Put on walking shoes and grab some sandwiches from Kalena's Tea's then drive north about 45 miles on US Hwy 287 to MT Hwy 2 and follow the signs to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.

Viewing the caverns is especially fun for kids because it involves some climbing and scrambling in a really cool place.

Day Trip #5 – Road Trip to Bannack Montana
Bannack stands out among Montana's wealth of historical sites. Preserved rather than restored, Bannack offers perhaps the most accurate glimpse into the living conditions of the Montana gold rush era.

Just under 2 hours from Ennis, tours of Bannack are conducted from the visitor center, which is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Also, Bannack Days, with historic displays, re-enactors, and activities, are held annually the 3rd weekend in July.

Day Trip #6 – Bozeman, Montana
Just an hour from Ennis, Bozeman offers great shopping and dining options on main street. Be sure to check out Teds Grill, a Bozeman landmark, located at the Baxter Hotel.

Also, while you are there check out the Museum of the Rockies. Originally affiliated with Montana State University in Bozeman, and now also, the Smithsonian Institution, the museum is known for its paleontological collections.

Day Trip #7 –Yellowstone National Park/Quake Lake

Before you get to Yellowstone National Park, just about 40 miles south of Ennis on US 287 you will find Quake Lake. This lake was formed in 1959 by an earthquake in the Madison Canyon River Area.

Then just a little further up the road, about 30 miles, is Yellowstone National Park. A nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Yellowstone features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful.

If you get an early start, make sure to stop at the Campfire Lodge Resort Cafe, where you can dine in a rustic setting while enjoying the beautiful view of the Madison River and the Gallatin National Forest.  Reservations are suggested.