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Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

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Raleigh, NC
posts: 5
reviews: 4
Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

I'm a single mom whose promised my two boys a trip to Yellowstone this summer. I'm trying to finalize my travel plans this week and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I've researched the Yellowstone area as much as possible the past few weeks and I have just a few questions:

1. If I stay in the same hotel in West Yellowstone for one week, is it practical to go out and explore a lot of the park each day over the week? I'm thinking we'll set out early each morning and spend each day in a different part of the park. My kids are minimal hikers. It will be mostly sightseeing. Inside the park hotels are already full so I thought West Yellowstone might be the best for us.

2. Is a day trip to Jackson Hole feasible from West Yellowstone?


Robin in Raleigh, NC

West Yellowstone, MT
posts: 1,646
1. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

You're right the information can be overwhelming. Because West Yellowstone sits on the west gate, it is one of the closest places from which to explore Yellowstone. You can also drive from West (either through the Park or through Idaho) to GTNP and back (it's a long day, but doable).

You are 14 miles from Madison Junction where they have ranger programs at night for your kids. You are about 33 miles from Old Faithful where there are plenty of places for short hikes.

From West, you are farther from the northern end of the park - 1 1/2 hours of driving. The northern part of the park is where Lamar Valley is, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Tower Junction.

Not to make it more confusing, but one idea is that there are some motels in Gardiner (5 miles north of Mammoth). You could spend 1-2 nights there and the rest in West Yellowstone. You would have less driving to the northern sections. There are also rafting and horseback riding companies in Gardiner depending on the age (and interests!) of your children.

These two articles talk about driving the interior roads within the Park. Both left from West Yellowstone. They may help you in your planning.



Raleigh, NC
posts: 5
reviews: 4
2. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

Thank you Yellowstonefan! I've been seeing your posts and was hoping you'd answer mine! Gardiner does sound like a good option. Thanks for the loop information as well.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,353
reviews: 35
3. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?


My husband and I did this trip back in 1997 before our daughter was born. We stayed in West Yellowstone and found it to be a great base to see the park. As you probably already know, the park roads resemble a figure 8, and we focused on a different part of the "8" every day. One day we spent at the Canyon and Tower Fall, another day was at Old Faithful. Another was at Norris Geyser Basin, another day at Mammoth Hot Springs, etc. Although Mammoth Hot Springs was one of the furthest points, we didn't mind the drive. The drives in this park are all so beautful that really don't mind the distance. You never know what wildlife might pop up.

I would stay in West Yellowstone when touring Yellowstone, and then I would stay in Jackson when touring the Grand Tetons. You probably won't need more than 2 nights in Jackson since the kids are minimal hikers. You might want to consider a float trip there, however. We didn't have time to do one, but I hear they are very nice.

Yellowstone is a spectacular park. Enjoy!

Raleigh, NC
posts: 5
reviews: 4
4. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

Thank you! I have made my reservations for West Yellowstone as well as Jackson. I'll have to check into the float trips for Jackson.

Gardiner MT
posts: 51
5. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

I would suggest splitting your time between West Yellowstone and Gardiner the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The roads in Yellowstone are set up in a figure eight. The lower loop, which is closest to the West Yellowstone entrance, has the largest concentration of geysers and thermal features. You would also travel along Yellowstone Lake into Hayden Valley up to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it’s spectacular waterfalls.

Then move to Gardiner and enjoy easy access to the northern wildlife range and the upper loop. If you head into the Lamar Valley early in the morning you have the greatest opportunity to see elk, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and possibly bears and wolves. The wildlife is most active at daybreak and just before nightfall. Mammoth Hot Springs just south of Gardiner, is the park’s headquarters and was originally Fort Yellowstone when the Army was tasked with patrolling Yellowstone.

Jackson would be a very long day trip from West Yellowstone. If your goal is to view the Teton Mountains, I would suggest going into Grand Teton National Park as far as Jenny Lake and returning. Be sure to stop at Jackson Lake Lodge and walk out onto the back terrace, this will be one of your best opportunities to see moose.

There is a Junior Ranger Program for ages 6 – 12 which helps you learn about Yellowstone in a fun way and participants earn a patch when they show their completed program to the rangers. This can be picked up at the visitor centers in Yellowstone and easily completed within the time you will be here.

You may want to consider taking a guided tour one or two days of your visit, this way you will be able to relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife without the stress of driving on unfamiliar roads. If you want to see wildlife, a guide would be able to take you to the places animals are most frequently seen and usually have binoculars or spotting scopes available to enhance your viewing. After your guided tour you could return to the places you wanted to explore more the following days of your visit.

Hope this helps you have an enjoyable and memorable visit to Yellowstone.

6. Re: Can I stay in West Yellowstone for 7 days?

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