West Yellowstone is about 2 hours from Bozeman, if you don’t stop to look around or explore. You could easily spend a day getting to West Yellowstone.
The Park can be accessed from the north via Gardiner, MT, the northeast via Red Lodge and Cooke City, MT the west via West Yellowstone, MT, the east via Cody, WY, and the south via Jackson, WY.
The configuration of roads into and around the Park, is helpful for planning. As you plan, first choose where you wish to enter the Park, then plan your Park-specific travel with your entrance as a guidepost.
Since you will be arrive from Bozeman, northwest of the Park, we suggest the entry points:
West Entrance :: West Yellowstone, MT
North Entrance :: Gardiner, MT
Northeast Entrance :: Cooke City, MT (via Red Lodge)
Once you select your entry point, we suggest planning to use your first travel day to get to your entrance or camp/RV site.
Once you are to your entrance, settle, and ready to hit the Park, consider moving clockwise or counter clockwise around the Park.
As you move around the Park it is helpful to think of it as focus areas between the different entrances. This allows y toou plan your trip based on the time you have. You may try to see all the areas quickly, or skip some to come back to later, or spend more time in some, and less in others.
West Yellowstone to Jackson - 1 to 3 Days
West Yellowstone to Gardiner - 1 Day
Gardiner to Cooke City - 1 Day
Cooke City to Red Lodge - 1/2 Day
Cooke City to East Entrance - 1 Day
East Entrance to South Entrance -m1 Day
Around the Center of the Park - 1 to 3 Days
Teton National Park - 1 to 3 Days
Approaching the Park
Assuming you arrive from Bozeman, we recommend starting from the north, northeast, or west.
From the West via the Gallatin Valley
If you choose to start from the west through the Gallatin Valley, you will leave Bozeman, head south through Gallatin Canyon, past Big Sky, MT, and enter the Park through West Yellowstone.
From the West via the Madison Valley
If you choose to start from the west, you will leave Bozeman, travel south through Norris and Ennis, through the Madison Valley, past Quake Lake, and enter the Park through the town of West Yellowstone, MT.
Consider Norris Hot Springs, Ennis, Virginia City / Nevada City as places to visit along the way.
There are a number of ways to get to West Yellowstone; we recommend driving past Quake Lake.
West Yellowstone has many motels, campgrounds, restaurants, shops and the Wolf & Grizzy Discovery Center.
From the North
If you choose to start from the north, you will leave Bozeman, travel east to Livingston, then south through the spectacular Paradise Valley and enter the Park through the town of Gardiner, MT.
Gardiner is about 2 hours from Bozeman if you don’t stop to look around or explore.
Once you enter the Park in Gardiner, the Boiling River will be on your left.
From the Northeast
If you choose to start from the northeast, you will leave Bozeman, travel east through Livingston, on to Big Timber, to Columbus and then south to Red Lodge. From Red Lodge you will take the Beartooth Highway and enter the Park through Cooke City, MT.
Red Lodge is about 2.5 hours from Bozeman. The drive is easy, mostly interstate and offers great views of the Absaroka (ab-sor-kee) and Beartooth Mountains.
Cooke City is another 2.5 hours from Red Lodge. Consider staying the night in Red Lodge and driving the Beartooth Highway the next day