Gardiner, Montana is 3 hours from Cody, Wyoming, 1 hour thru the breath-taking Paradise Valley to Livingston, Montana and 5 miles from the north border of Yellowstone National Park. Nestled between Absaroka-Beartooth and the Gallatin Mountain Ranges, Gardiner was the original entrance to Yellowstone Park. This frontier town dates back to the 1830s when the town was named after a fur trapper Johnson Gardner named then “Gardner’s Hole” (his name was misspelled by adding an “i” and the name stuck). Gardiner was founded in 1880 from the Washburn-Langford-Doan Party.
The north entrance is the only entrance of Yellowstone open all year long. Winter brings the best wildlife viewing along with smaller crowds and you can drive from Gardiner at the north entrance to Silver Gate, Montana at the northeast entrance from April to November.
Elevation for Gardiner is approximately 5,259 feet, yet has a mild year-round weather with snowfall between November and March averaging less than 5 inches a month. The Yellowstone River flows downstream from Yellowstone Lake to North Dakota and is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states of approximately 690 miles. This is why wildlife is abundant here with elk, bighorn sheep, bison, pronghorn sheep, mule deer, wolves, coyotes, grizzly and black bears.
Thru the 1800s and 1900s, trappers, hunters, miners and mountain men travelled thru this old-west style town including West Virginia Mountain Man Jim Bridger and Calamity Jane. President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the historical Arch in 1903, named the “Roosevelt Arch”. The lush valley has approximately 10 million acres of public lands.
The population is less than 1000, yet is a quaint full service town with many small prideful businesses with “genuine, authentic, Montana hospitality”. The Gardiner Chamber of Commerce on Park Street is one of the most informative and organized I have ever seen. Make sure to stop here on your next trip and check out some of these great small businesses. Annual Gardiner events are Jardine Ski Run, Hell’s a-Roarin’ Horse Drive, Gardiner Rodeo, Shakespeare in the Park, Brewfest and Christmas Stroll.
The area is rich in western history with some of the most stunning countryside views in the west. Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center contains more than 720,000 historical items dating back to the parks creation in 1872 and worth the visit.