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Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Berkeley, Ca.
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Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Gardiner and West Yellowstone are the towns mentioned as places to stay outside the park. My family is planning to go to Yellowstone in late June, on their way across the country so the park hotels are long since booked up (we'll look for cancellations, see if we get lucky).

Apart from the specific hotel reviews--which I've started reading--is there a reason that Gardiner or West Yellowstone would be a better place to stay for a couple of nights? Would one be better for some specific reason? (I know people on here recommend at least 3 nights at the park, and I'm sure that's right, but they'll be trying to get all the way from California to Boston in roughly two weeks).

Spery, Iowa
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1. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

West has more "stuff" like places to eat, the Discovery Center and more hotel options. West would be a little better for the southern parts of the park- unless you are going out that way? Gardiner is only 5 miles from the gate, west is nearly on it I believe.

Houston, Texas
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Gardnier is closer to Roosevelt, Lamar for wildlife(wolf) watching and Mammoth.

West Yellowstone

Closer to Lake, Old Faithful and Geyser basins

More Hotels, More Restaurants, Discovery/Wolf Center, Imax theater, small live theater, more fly fishing shops. You can actually fly into West Yellowstone.

Both approximately the same distance/time to Norris and Canyon

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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for Glacier National Park
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3. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Gardiner is a good place to explore the Northern part of Yellowstone (Lamar Valley, Mammoth, Cooke City and out the Bear Tooth Pass) the upper part of the figure eight. West Yellowstone has easier access to the lower loop-Old Faithful, Fountain Paint Pots etc. Canyon and Norris is easily accessible from either. West Yellowstone is a bigger town with more hotels and restaurants.

Berkeley, Ca.
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4. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Thanks, that's helpful. It doesn't sound like you would particularly rate one or the other town as a more pleasant place to stay, or would you?

Houston, Texas
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for Yellowstone National Park
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5. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

I definitely prefer West Yellowstone. More variety, better (relative term) restaurants. I like to walk the town and get a late night cone at the Dairy Queen as a well earned reward for a good day.

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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for Glacier National Park
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6. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Actually, I prefer Gardiner. it is a bit less touristy

Atlanta, Georgia
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for Road Trips
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7. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

We like West Yellowstone and it has some pretty good restaurants, coffee shops, bakery shops and sandwich shops.

If you stay then don't miss Running Bear Pancake House for their awesome blueberry pancakes!!!

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park
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110 reviews
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8. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Give me a check mark in the West Yellowstone column. I don't find Gardiner fun to walk around. I do like to walk around West after a day in the park or actually I also like to walk around town very early in the morning! I also like the restaurants and accommodations better in West. It does bug me that neither Gardiner or West are really early morning towns. I want breakfast at 0600 and no one (except McD's in West) is open then, dang it. And...last but not least, the west gate is exactly a 9 hour drive from my driveway. Gardiner is further.

Pam

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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9. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Another vote for West. As the others have mentioned, it's very walkable and has many more restaurant and hotel options. Gardiner wasn't as interesting to me, or as "walkable." It just didn't have as many services. On the plus side for Gardiner, however, is that it's much closer to the Lamar Valley. It's tough to get to the Lamar from West for early morning wildlife viewing. If that interests you, I'd suggest splitting your time.

Green Valley...
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10. Re: Gardiner vs. West Yellowstone

Another vote for West. Gardiner exploration dries up after an hour and you don't have time to explore much beyond that. For early morning wildlife viewing which can be anywhere, I'd focus more on Hayden Valley from West. When you do go to the Lamar Valley, it's worth a drive to Cooke City/Silver Gate, to dine and one of the stores has spotting scopes in front to observe, if there, Bear and...