BUY TWO OR MORE GUIDES - UP TO 20% OFF

Yellowstone’s North Entrance (Gardiner, MT): Everything You Need to Know

image of roosevelt arch
Roosevelt Arch stands tall at the North Entrance to Yellowstone

If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, you’ve probably realized by now that it’s a BIG place, and it can be confusing. Just choosing an entrance might be a big decision for you!

So, what do you need to know about Yellowstone’s North Entrance?

Yellowstone’s North Entrance is one of five entrances to the park. It’s located in Gardiner, Montana. It is the second most popular entrance to Yellowstone. The most popular attractions near the North Entrance are Roosevelt Arch and Mammoth Hot Springs.

But there’s a lot more to know about the North Entrance, so I’m going to cover it all in this article.

Northern Yellowstone: where the wild things roam [Lamar, Roosevelt, Beartooth, Mammoth & More]
This video is a must-watch if you want to see the North Entrance as well as Mammoth & Gardiner!

How Many Entrances to Yellowstone Are There?

There are five entrances to Yellowstone. Although more than 90% of the park is in Wyoming, three of the entrances are located in Montana.

Here they are, in order of popularity (most to least):

  1. West Entrance, near West Yellowstone, MT
  2. North Entrance, near Gardiner, MT
  3. South Entrance, near Grand Teton National Park
  4. East Entrance, near Cody, WY
  5. Northeast Entrance, near Cooke City, MT
Map of Yellowstone's 5 entrances
5 entrances to Yellowstone

What is the Closest City to the North Entrance?

The North Entrance is located right next to Gardiner, Montana. Literally, the Gardiner town boundary touches the park boundary.

Entering the Park Through the North Entrance

The North Entrance is unlike any other entrance to the park because there are actually TWO ENTRANCES here:

  • Roosevelt Arch, a ceremonial entrance
  • The North Entrance park ranger booth, the actual entrance

The Roosevelt Arch is the ceremonial entrance to Yellowstone National Park, and it’s located right on the border of the park and the town of Gardiner.

Roosevelt Arch was constructed in 1903 as a ceremonial entrance to Yellowstone. It was named after President Theodore Roosevelt because he happened to be visiting the park while it was being constructed, and he gave a speech from the arch.

Visitors arrived in Gardiner by train, then hopped on a Yellow carriage pulled by horses, and excitedly drove through the arch!

Old Yellow carriage in museum
Yellow carriage used by early Yellowstone Tourists

Today, the arch is bypassed by Highway 89, so you actually don’t have to drive through the arch to get into the park. But you CAN if you want to! I drove through it on my most recent trip there.

In fact, Arch Park is located right next to it, and there are parking spots as well. It’s common to take pictures in front of the arch. You can even walk inside the arch columns.

The actual North Entrance park ranger booth is located just 1/2 mile south of Roosevelt Arch, within the park boundaries. This is where you pay your entrance fee or show your park pass to enter.

A drive through Gardiner, MT
This is just a drive through the tiny town of Gardiner, MT. No audio. It follows the map below.

Map of Gardiner, MT

Here’s a screenshot map of Gardiner, MT. The blue line is the route I drove in the video above.

map of Gardiner, Montana

Yellowstone Floods of 2022

The North Entrance was shut down for most of the summer of 2022 due to the historic floods that occurred in Yellowstone. The floods wiped out the North Entrance road connecting Gardiner to Mammoth.

A new road was constructed using the original stagecoach route. It’s unclear if the park will ever rebuild the road that was wiped out.

What Can I Do in Gardiner, MT?

Gardiner, MT is a small town — it only has about 900 residents. The town was actually founded 8 years after Yellowstone was set aside as a national park! Its sole purpose is to be a gateway town for the park.

Take Pictures of the Park Entry Sign

Always a popular thing at national parks, gather together and take a happy picture at the park entrance sign.

You can also be like one of the awesome families who purchased my Yellowstone Travel Guide and take a “sad” picture upon leaving the park!

image of family at park sign
“Sad” family leaving the park

Visit the Roosevelt Arch

This is located right by the park entrance sign. You can park and walk to the sign and Roosevelt Arch.

As mentioned above, you can drive through this, take pictures next to it, and walk inside of it.

River Rafting

The Gardner River flows north, out of Yellowstone, and through Gardiner, MT.

You cannot raft the river inside Yellowstone, but there are many companies that offer guided river rafting trips outside the park.

Fly Fishing

Yellowstone and the surrounding region are famous for fly fishing, and there are also many companies that offer fly fishing trips near Gardiner.

Yellowstone Hot Springs

Not to be confused with Mammoth Hot Springs or the Boiling River (see below), Yellowstone Hot Springs is a business. Here you can soak in natural but developed hot springs.

Chico Hot Springs

You can stay in this historic resort near Yellowstone!
5-minute overview of Chico Hot Springs

More developed, and perhaps more famous, Chico Hot Springs is not actually in Gardiner, MT. It’s located 40 minutes north in Pray, MT.

Chico is a full resort with a saloon, dining hall, lodges, glamping, horseback riding, fly fishing, rock climbing, spas, beautiful gardens, river rafting, painting classes, and more. It’s also open in the winter and offers activities like skiing and snowshoeing.

Oh ya, and it’s most famous for its hot springs, which you can enjoy year-round!

It’s definitely worth taking a side trip to Chico or visiting it on your way into or out of Gardiner, MT.

Take a Shower or Do Laundry

If you’re tent camping in Yellowstone, showers can be hard to come by. But Gardiner has you covered!

The North Entrance Washtub has a public pay shower and laundromat. For more places to get a shower, see our Yellowstone Camping Guide.

Is the North Entrance Open in Winter?

Yes! Not only is it open, but the northern road that extends through the park from Gardiner, MT to Silvergate, MT (the Northeast Entrance) is plowed year-round.

The Northeast is technically open, but the road approaching it, the Beartooth Highway, is not. You can also enter in the West and South entrances, but only by snowmobile or snow coach.

So basically, Gardiner is the only entrance you can drive through in the winter.

Not sure which Yellowstone Entrance is right for you?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to Yellowstone’s entrances!

Where Can I Eat in Gardiner, MT?

The Yellowstone region isn’t known for having great food. But some places in Gardiner that have good reviews are:

Where Can I Stay in Gardiner, MT?

image of hotel
Absaroka Lodge, with the river nearby

There are many hotels in Gardiner. Some are quite historic since Gardiner was the original gateway to Yellowstone.

We have only stayed at the Absaroka Lodge, and we really enjoyed it.

Yellowstone usually requires very long days to see the park, and thus, you won’t spend much time at a hotel. Go for basic accommodations.

Where Can I Camp in Gardiner, MT?

There are many Forest Service campgrounds in the surrounding area, as well as some private campgrounds. Here are a few in or close to Gardiner.

Forest Service:

Private:

What Can I Do in Yellowstone Near the North Entrance?

The North Entrance is the closest entrance to the Grand Loop Road, which has most of the attractions in Yellowstone.

Boiling River

image of swimmers in river
Boiling River

This is a little spot where the Boiling River (scalding hot) meets up with the Gardiner River (freezing cold). Together, they form the perfect temperature to sit in!

  • NOTE: This is closed indefinitely due to the Floods of 2022. This was accessed from the road that was wiped out. Since it is unclear if that road will be rebuilt, it’s likely that Boiling River will join the stagecoach and fade into memory (sadly).

Mammoth Hot Springs

image of mammoth hot springs
Travertine Terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs

This is a massive geothermal area perched upon a hill. There are many interesting formations, but the defining feature is the travertine terraces, which kind of look like the inside of a cave.

Depending on water levels, sometimes water flows down the terraces, and sometimes it’s more steam than anything.

These are something to look at as you walk on the boardwalk, not to soak in.

Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District

The park headquarters are located next to the hot springs. As a result, this is a town, with a gas station, hotel, visitor center, and restaurant.

Fort Yellowstone is also located here. The army was stationed here in the early days of the park to prevent illegal activity like stealing geothermal features and hunting animals.

Horace Albright Visitor Center

Located in town is perhaps the largest and best visitor center in the entire park, the Horace Albright Visitor Center, named after an early park superintendent and the second director of the National Park Service.

Tower-Roosevelt

image of waterfall
Tower Fall

Tower-Roosevelt is located about 30 minutes away from Gardiner. There are a few things to do at this stop:

  • See Tower Fall (as it sounds, it’s a towering waterfall)
  • Get ice cream
  • Fill up on gasoline
  • Eat at the Roosevelt Lodge
  • Do the Roosevelt Old West Cookout, where a horse and carriage will take you into a nearby valley for a steak dinner.

Lamar Valley

image of bison on road
Bison Jam in Lamar Valley

Located about 45 minutes to an hour away from Gardiner, Lamar Valley is the best place in Yellowstone to see wildlife. Bison, wolves, moose, and bears frequent this valley.

If you want to visit Lamar Valley, the best places to stay are Gardiner, Mammoth, Roosevelt Lodge, Canyon Village, or Cooke City.

Where Can I Eat in Yellowstone Near the North Entrance?

The two closest locations to eat are Mammoth and Roosevelt.

Mammoth:

Roosevelt:

image of campfire
Roosevelt Cookout

We’ve eaten at Roosevelt Lodge and we’ve done the Roosevelt Old West Cookout. We loved BOTH of them.

map of dining locations in yellowtone

Where Can I Stay in Yellowstone Near the North Entrance?

The closest hotel inside the park is Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. It’s open year-round, as the road from Mammoth through Lamar Valley is the only road open in Yellowstone in the winter.

I haven’t stayed here, but it would be a delightful place to stay. You can just walk outside the hotel and see elk grazing on the grass in town.

The next closest hotel is the Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins. I also haven’t stayed here but it’s the best place to stay to see Lamar Valley.

Where Can I Camp in Yellowstone Near the North Entrance?

The closest campground is Mammoth Campground, which is also open year-round. It has 85 sites and it’s one of the best campgrounds in the park for larger RVs (most of Yellowstone will not accommodate RVs larger than 30 feet).

There are also two campgrounds that aren’t that far from the North Entrance:

  • Norris Campground. This has 111 campsites, and it’s centrally located in the park. Closed for repairs in 2024.
  • Tower Fall. This has 81 campsites, and it’s located at the Tower-Roosevelt junction. It’s named after the nearby waterfall. Closed for repairs in 2024.

If you’re camping, make sure to check out our post and video all about camping in Yellowstone.

How Far is the North Entrance from Yellowstone’s Other Major Attractions?

Old Faithful
Old Faithful

The nice thing about the North Entrance is that it’s the closest entrance to the Grand Loop Road. So that reduces driving time.

LocationTime to get there from North Entrance
Old FaithfulAbout an hour and a half
Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneAbout an hour
Grand Prismatic SpringAbout an hour
Yellowstone Lake (West Thumb)About 2 + hours
Lamar ValleyAbout 30 minutes to the Valley, then it takes another 20-30 minutes to drive to the end of the Valley.

Visiting Yellowstone and Need a Plan?

Yellowstone is confusing because it’s huge and there are so many things to do! 

Need a game plan so you don’t miss out on the best things to do in Yellowstone? Check out our itinerary

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid the crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!

But that’s not all! Our itinerary includes a free audio guide to listen to while driving with over 3-hours of stories about the park!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
YELLOWSTONE

YELLOWSTONE TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Yellowstone National Park, check out our Yellowstone Homepage

ENTRANCES: Yellowstone has 5 entrances: The West Entrance, the East Entrance, the Northeast Entrance, the North Entrance, and the South Entrance. Learn which entrance to Yellowstone is right for you with our Free Quick and Easy Guide

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Yellowstone has to offer including Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and West Thumb and Grant’s Village

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn all about where to stay and where to camp when visiting Yellowstone and things to do in Cody, Wyoming, and other areas surrounding Yellowstone

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat including the Old West Dinner Cookout and also where to get groceries and eat picnics in Yellowstone National Park

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation or bear spray and binoculars, as well as tips for driving in and flying to Yellowstone 

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Yellowstone National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Yellowstone YouTube Playlist

LEGAL INFORMATION

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.