Gardiner or West Yellowstone: Where to Go in Montana?

Choosing the perfect location for traveling is difficult. And if the selection is between Gardiner and Yellowstone, then it’s obviously a tough call!

Gardiner or West Yellowstone, where to go then?

West Yellowstone is closer to Salt Lake City than Gardiner. From Salt Lake City, Gardiner is approximately 2000 miles far. Whereas West Yellowstone is around 400 miles far only. Gardiner is especially famous for its hot spring in winter. Whereas West Yellowstone can give you the best ski experience!

However, to exactly decide where to visit, you need more information. And here I am to help you out! I gathered all the necessary info in this article. This will definitely help you!

So, pack up your bags, and let’s get ready. It’s time to travel!

Gardiner vs West Yellowstone

Since it’s a selection, let’s start with a quick comparison of Gardiner vs West Yellowstone. This will give you a swift idea about some of the features of both places. 

And the features are compared head-on-head below:

Comparable FeaturesGardinerWest Yellowstone
Driving distance from Salt Lake City2500 miles324 miles
Flying distance from Salt Lake City2100 miles270 miles
Best time to visitJune, July, August, and SeptemberApril, September, October
Travel cost( For solo travelers)Approximately $2100Approximately $2500
Tour Guide Review5 out of 54.9 out of 5

These are some of the features I fetched for your quick review. 

However, let’s not waste more time on a quick review. After all, we have to learn more deeply about Gardiner and West Yellowstone!


Gardiner vs West Yellowstone: In-Depth Analysis

Just like any other typical travel comparison guide, we’ll describe each aspects of the two destinations. 

We will start of with the first hurdle of any tour. The flight.


Either Gardiner or West Yellowstone, you have to land at West Yellowstone. Because West Yellowstone airport is closest to Gardiner.

Thus to go to Gardiner, you have to land at West Yellowstone airport. From there, you can take buses or cars to reach Gardiner.

However, if you can’t land at West Yellowstone airport, don’t worry. There are a few other closest airports available as well. 

You can land at Bozeman as well. Then you can take a bus to Gardiner.

Or you can land at Billings. Actually, Billings and Bozeman are the closest airports right after West Yellowstone. 

From there, take a bus to Livingstone. And finally, you can rent a car and reach Gardiner. 

Besides, you can directly arrive from Billings to Gardiner.

Here is a fact. From any of these airports, you can take either bus or car to reach Gardiner. 

However, Going by car is comparatively cheaper than going by bus. Plus, bus travel can kill more time. And to specifically clarify this fact, I offer you this list below:

AirportTravel time by busTravel time by carMinimum bus travel costMinimum car travel cost
West Yellowstone International airport2 hours1 hourAround $187Around $8
Bozeman International Airport3 hours2 hoursAround $187Around $13
Billings Logan international airport3 hours2 hoursApproximately $44Around $17

You can directly land at West Yellowstone International airport. In fact, it’s the airport situated right at West Yellowstone. And there are no other airports closer than this one. 

Once you landed at West Yellowstone you can either take a car or walk by yourself to reach the city!

To think of airlines, here is a list of airlines:

  • Alaska
  • Allegiant
  • JetBlue
  • Delta
  • Sun Country

These airlines typically provide flights at Bozeman, West Yellowstone, and Billings airports. If you’re lucky enough, you can land a round-trip flight along with one-way flight.

If you’re willing to take a trip in both parts of Montana, then you might be wondering:

How far is Gardiner from West Yellowstone?

Well, Gardiner is about 54.2 miles north from the heart of west Yellowstone. So about an hour and half of a car ride from one location to the other. 

You can choose any of these airlines to reach any of the airports mentioned above.

Accommodation Facilities

Basically, the accommodation facility is kind of the same for both Gardiner and West Yellowstone. 

There are several inns and hotels where you can stay. Besides, there are lodging facilities available also. You can even camp at parks to enjoy the beauty of the forest. 

However, the cost of staying differs slightly.  In Gardiner, the minimum staying cost is around $108. While it costs approximately $116 at West Yellowstone.

Here is a glimpse of the places to stay in West Yellowstone and Gardiner while on tour:

GardinerMake ReservationsWest YellowstoneMake Reservations
Cowboy’s LodgeBook NowKelly Inn West YellowstoneBook Now
Roosevelt HotelBook NowYellowstone Wildlife CabinsBook Now
Dreamcatcher Tipi HotelBook NowYellowstone Park HotelBook Now
Big Rock InnBook NowCrosswinds InnBook Now

These are some of the famous Gardiner and West Yellowstone hotels where you can stay during your travel!

Guide Review

Now a tour will always need a guide. If you want to enjoy that to the fullest. Especially for tours such as going to Gardiner or West Yellowstone.

Gardiner’s guide review is in one word, excellent! Every tourist so far has enjoyed the service provided by the guides out there. 


There are a remarkable number of tour guides available out there. They are friendly and informative. Along with that, they are reasonable as well for hiring. 

Plus, if you are confused about the tour plan, it’s your lucky day then! They even make up travel plans for you! That’s why they got a 5 out of 5 review rating!

However, the guide review of West Yellowstone is 4,9 out of 5. In fact, the review of West Yellowstone is a bit of a mixture of all. 

Don’t worry. Overall, their guides are very good. They also are informative, and friendly. They can build up some easy tour plans for you. 

However, there have been some reports of mismanagement by the guide of Yellowstone. 

Moreover, some tourists faced payment difficulties regarding the guide. Perhaps, this is what made people give a mixed review of the guides.

Things to Do: Main Attraction

A tourist place will have something special which will make tourists visit there. Let’s see what Gardiner and West Yellowstone have to offer us.

The main attraction of Gardiner is its hot spring. Especially Mammoth hots springs. 

The hot spring was developed even before World War I. Still, it is one of the reasons why people come to Gardiner. 

Moreover, the hot spring has a hotel. You can stay there to fully enjoy the hot spring!

Besides, other than hot springs, you can also do fly fishing. There are many fly fishing locations at Gardiner.  Weather in Gardiner Montana is yet another fascinating thing as it’s beautiful even in snowy weather.

West Yellowstone is famous for its skiing facility. You will find many skiing facilities across West Yellowstone. 


The ski trail is vast and rich with scenic beauty. While skiing, you can have a glimpse of hot springs, and snowy grassland. 

You may even see a herd of Bison skiing with you as well!

Sightseeing Options

Sightseeing and tourism are a perfect combo. Thus to choose between Gardiner and West Yellowstone, you must know about the points of interest in both places.

Gardiner, Montana is rich in natural beauty. There are beautiful valleys, lakes, and whatnot?

Besides, if you get tired of all these sightseeing and activities, then don’t worry. You can camp in forests and parks and ultimately enjoy the beauty of the night! 


The main attraction of West Yellowstone is its forests and wildlife. There are many parks where you can enjoy the forest as well as the wildlife of Yellowstone. 

And  West Yellowstone has a museum where you can actually learn about the cultural heritage of Yellowstone.

Here’s a list of the places of interest in both Gardiner and West Yellowstone:

GardinerWest Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot SpringMuseum of the Yellowstone
Fly fishing at Montana PostcardEarthquake Lake Visitor Center
Paradise ValleyRodeo at Yellowstone
The Boiling RiverFishing at Blue Ribbon Waterways
Camping at Yellowstone RV ParkHebgen Lake
Roosevelt ArchCross-country ski trail

So, Which Is the Best Spot?

It’s time to choose a place to go to! Gardiner and West Yellowstone are placed with equal tourism options. In fact, both are part of Yellowstone.

Is it better to stay in Gardiner or West Yellowstone?

In West Yellowstone, you can get to enjoy some really amazing local restaurants and hotel services. However, Gardiner offers a way better sight of the mountain range and calmer view of the land. Gardiner also offers a wide range of activities for visitors to participate in.

If you like skiing then you can go to West Yellowstone. Also, You can learn a lot about the history and heritage of Yellowstone.

Or, you can go to Gardiner. You can fly fishing, and enjoy a bath at a hot spring. 

Perhaps then you can plan your next tour. You can also take a keen interest in either Lake-Placid or Lake-George!


Is It Possible to Directly Go by Air to Gardiner?

Yes. You can go to Gardiner directly by plane. Normally, you have to land at Yellowstone if you are traveling by plane. And then take another transport to reach Gardiner. However, there are some non-commercial airports located at Gardiner. Thus, you can take any plane and directly land at Gardiner.

What is the Easiest Way to Enter Yellowstone?

The entrance is situated at the far East of Yellowstone. It’s the less busy lane of Yellowstone. Most of the people from Dakota and Montana typically use this lane for early access. So if you are coming from the southern part of Dakota or Eastern Montana, then this is the easiest route.

Will I Find a Bear in Yellowstone?

Yes. You will find bears in Yellowstone. You will find them mostly at Yellowstone park. Especially in the northern part. Go to Elk Creek, Hot Springs, and even Tower Creeks. You will find black bears and Grizzly bears in these areas. There are approximately 730 bears available in Yellowstone.

Parting Words

Fellow traveler shows over! Hope now you can choose between Gardiner or West Yellowstone

However, you can clear out your confusion if there’s any. There are many travel experts out there. They can give you some awesome tips!

I shall take leave then.

Bon Voyage!

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