In the past five weeks, I’ve been to Rocky Mountain National Park, Wyoming’s Lander – for the 2017 Eclipse – Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and have meandered the wild and wondrous Beartooth Highway, in southern Montana. So far, I’m very happy with how it’s gone. There have been some minor setbacks, but moreover, the itineraries I’ve planned have worked out well.
For five days, I’ve resided in Gardiner, Montana. Gardiner is a mix between village and town, and sits right on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. It’s the original entry point for the park, where visitors would arrive by train, some 100 years ago. Comprised of neat bars, restaurants and coffee shops, Gardiner could be your ideal Yellowstone point of entry – here’s why.
Where Jackson Hole and Cody bustle, Gardiner glistens and shimmers – quietly. No doubt the town faces a barrage of tourists in the summer months, but so does everywhere in Yellowstone and Teton, and from my extensive travels around and within all entry points, I feel confident in saying that this is a quiet area of the park – reason enough to go for many.
Essentials: Coffee Shops
When I travel it’s very important that I find good coffee. Good coffee is like good company – it keeps you going, and keeps you sharp. I found two excellent coffee shops whilst being here in Gardiner – The Perk and The Tumbleweed. Which is better? Hard to say, but here are some things to consider.
The Perk will satisfy not only your coffee-tooth, but also your sweet-tooth. They combine the art of coffee with an affinity for ice cream – and run a pharmacy out of the shop, in case you forget something. Friendly staff are there to meet and greet you, and you can be sure you’ll get your money’s worth when here.
As with the Perk, The Tumbleweed is home to incredibly friendly staff, who share your passion for good coffee, conversation, and a clean-living lifestyle. The gig doubles as a bookstore, so you can enjoy afternoon reading along with your evening-energy-espresso. The Tumbleweed also serves breakfast and lunch dishes, and they’re very good. My favorite? The Henny salad – a fruity yet subtle dish that’ll keep you light on your toes during the day.
Amazing community and ideal entry to Yellowstone National Park
Coffee aside, I’ve also been taken back by the community in Gardiner. Friendly folks are everywhere, from the crew running the raft trips, to the guys behind bars serving your pizza or steak. Everyone wears a smile, and everyone has a story. For good conversation, the town really ticks all the boxes, and that’s a key component in how I enjoy my travels – the people make the places.
Gardiner might just be your ideal point of entry because of what its area of the park offers. If you want a balance between wandering wildlife and dramatic, beautiful landscapes, this is your place. Easily accessible yet wholly beautiful areas are Lamar Valley, Canyon Village and Falls, and the prehistoric-like Mammoth Hot Springs – elk, bison, moose, and all kinds of birds, are guaranteed to be seen when meandering between.
A gem hiding in plain sight
Five days in and I don’t want to leave. Gardiner has it all, from history, good food, and coffee, to nightlife, peaceful places to kick back, and incredible ease-of-access – it’s a gem hiding in plain sight. Alas, the open road calls, and I’m going to hit it once more. I won’t forget the great time I’ve had here, and I’ll be returning, that’s for sure – until next time, Gardiner.