Spring Getaway in West Yellowstone, Montana

If there’s one word that has made its way into the pop-culture vernacular in recent years, it’s “Yellowstone.” And while we love to kick back on the couch to be transported into the world of cowboys and mountains, actually planning a trip is so much better. This four-day itinerary in West Yellowstone, Montana will provide you with plenty of inspiration to experience the west on horseback, riverside, and so much more.

West Yellowstone, Montana, is the gateway to adventure in the mountain west. Cozied up to three national forests, serene mountain lakes, and blue-ribbon trout streams–and at the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park–this destination is an obvious choice when it comes to an early season escape. With so many Spring activities in West Yellowstone, it can be helpful to plan ahead. Get inspired with this four-day itinerary featuring classic activities from horseback riding to fly-fishing and more.

This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

DAY 1: Get Your Steps In on the Rendezvous Trails and Historic Walking Tour


Begin your long weekend in West Yellowstone without hurry. Head directly to Rendezvous Trail System, located on the eastern corner of town, to stretch your legs after your road trip. These trails are groomed in the winter for Nordic skiing and are perfect for hiking and biking in the spring and summer. (Don’t forget your bear spray!) You’ll enjoy mountain views as you stroll or pedal alongside the scenic Madison River. After a few miles, extend your wanderings back toward town, where you can get your bearings for the next few days.


West Yellowstone’s town center beckons with independently owned shops, galleries, and plenty of eateries to satisfy any cravings. Browse the gems at L’s Boutique, or pick up an obligatory souvenir at Yellowstone T-Shirt Company. You might even find a classic western to accompany your time in the mountains at Book Peddler, along with a tasty pastry. Speaking of food, chances are you’ll be more than ready for lunch after so much meandering! Try Ernie’s Bakery and Deli, or select from a number of other local spots.

Then, take a few hours to travel back in time along the West Yellowstone Historic Walking Tour. You’ll learn about how this area blossomed into a bustling community as a hub on the Union Pacific Railroad and evolved into the destination it is today.


That evening, get checked into your accommodation for the weekend. West Yellowstone satisfies a wide range of accommodation styles, from upscale ranch lodging to cozy motels and cabins. Depending on where you stay, select a restaurant for dinner nearby. Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon is always a good choice for pizza and wings with western flare!

DAY 2: Ziplining, Rafting, and Grizzlies—Oh My!


Take the adventure up a notch on day two. If your trip coincides with the end of spring (Memorial Day or later), take the family for a full day of fun at Yellowstone Aerial Adventures. This local company specializes in whitewater rafting and ziplining packages that all but guarantee splashes and plenty of smiles.

Alternatively, if you’re enjoying spring in West Yellowstone in March or April, take advantage of being the “early bird.” Depending on conditions, the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park is open this time of year to non-vehicular traffic. That means you can bike, walk, jog, or skip into the park without having to worry about cars. The only traffic you might encounter are of the four-legged variety. Bison, pronghorn, and marmots are just a few of the many incredible creatures you can anticipate seeing during your excursion. Remember, as always, to keep your distance from wildlife, and leave the park better than you found it!


That afternoon, get an even closer look at Montana wildlife at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. Originally established as a sanctuary for grizzlies who needed to be rehomed from the wild, today it is an accredited wildlife park and educational facility featuring bears, wolves, and river otters. From the newly constructed otter slide zone to the Naturalist Cabin with prime viewing of the resident wolf pack, this is a one-of-a-kind destination to enjoy in West Yellowstone, year round.

For dinner, treat yourself to a specialty whiskey or craft cocktail and entree at Madison Crossing Lounge. The menu is full of mouthwatering seasonal fare from rainbow trout to bison nachos. You earned it!

DAY 3: Discover West Yellowstone on Horseback


Begin day three with a hearty breakfast at one of West Yellowstone’s friendly cafes. Running Bear Pancake House serves everything from buckwheat cakes to chorizo skillets, whereas Bear Country Bakery is handy for to-go burritos and pastries. Then, it’s time to live out your “Yellowstone” dreams! Because horseback riding is such a popular pastime here in West Yellowstone, there are a number of reputable outfitters who can accommodate visitors hoping to try their hand at cowboying. Year-round riding is available (conditions permitting) and ranges from short, hour-long trails to overnight pack trips. Find the best guide for your skill level and desired ride experience, and spend the perfect day viewing the world between your horse’s ears.


There’s hardly a better way to wash down a day in the saddle than with a craft beer and a Montana beef burger! TR’s Burgers is undoubtedly the watering hole of choice. Just ensure someone in your party orders the garlic cheese curds with huckleberry dipping sauce!

DAY 4: Reel in a Rainbow Trout (or Five)


While there are countless ways you could spend your final day this spring in West Yellowstone, fly-fishing should be at the top of your list. This area of the Rocky Mountains is teeming with trout-filled water: the Madison, Yellowstone, Missouri, and Beaverhead Rivers are all within reach, as is scenic Hebgen Lake. Take a full-day guided trip with Blue Ribbon Flies, or invest in a casting lesson in the stocked pond at 320 Guest Ranch (summer only). If your travel plans could be classified as winter rather than spring, don’t miss a day on the ice with local guide, Garrett. No matter which West Yellowstone casting outfit you select, you’re sure to be in good hands and surrounded by stunning Montana scenery.


That afternoon, consider sampling the other flavors of West Yellowstone before departing for home. If time allows, swing by the Museum of the Yellowstone (also known as the Yellowstone Historic Center) for a final bite of history and a farewell photo with one of West Yellowstone’s most infamous characters—a stuffed grizzly bear named Old Snaggletooth.

There really is an endless number of things to do in West Yellowstone, Montana, and we can’t wait for you to experience them soon.