For a town of 1200, West Yellowstone is a fairly good-sized “small town”, with many hotels, restaurants, and a few tourist attractions. It is land locked, with the park on one side, and US Forest Service land on the other. If you will be staying in this area on your visit to Yellowstone, there are a few things to see.
Fishing is a big attraction, and this area is one of the top fly fishing areas in the country. Dan has gone fishing a few times with our co-worker Tom in various rivers and lakes in the area. (they have not had many keepers though)
The town has a very nice museum that details the development of the region, and how tourism has grown over the years. The early visitors to the park arrived by train, and the museum is housed in the historic Union Pacific train depot. On display are several stage coaches that transported visitors into the park, as well as other historical artifacts.
They left most of the train station in its original state.
Two excellent movies are also featured, one on the impact of the 1959 Earthquake, and the other on the 1988 wildfires that burned out of control in Yellowstone. We gave both “two thumbs up”, but if you only have time for one, watch the one on the fire. That alone was worth the price of admission ($6).
There are displays on fly fishing, including this unusual Singer sewing machine, which was turned into a machine to tie flies.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is another very popular attraction in town. It is a non-profit wildlife park featuring several wolves, bears and birds of prey that would have euthanized if not for the center taking them in. Your admission ($11) is valid for two days.
The wolves are always in their habitats for viewing, and are well fed.
The bears are taken in and out of the bear habitat on a rotating basis. Before they switch out the bears, the staff will hide food under the rocks, and then a few bears will be let out to look for food. They have some nice sized grizzly bears on display. The ravens patiently wait by the bears and clean up all the scraps of food.
The center also tests out a lot of containers to see how “bear proof” they are, and have worked with companies to make bear proof garbage cans.
Although we enjoyed our visit, we thought Bear Country USA in Rapid City was a much more enjoyable experience, as the animals are left in a more natural environment. But they did have a nice couch in their gift shop!
Playmill Theater is a wonderful little theater right in downtown. This summer featured three different plays, Damn Yankees, Mary Poppins and Foreigner. We did receive a free pass ($26/per person) and saw a great musical performance of Damn Yankees. Most of the cast is made up of college students from Idaho, Montana and Colorado. Before each show, they have a quick variety show, displaying the talents of each member.
This is a photo before the play started/no photos during the play.
If you have time for only one thing in town, this would be it. Make sure you book your tickets ahead of time, as the theater is very small, which assures you every seat is a good one. For those of you who like movies there is a giant screen theater in town where we were able to see a nice 45 minute documentary on the history of Yellowstone.
Quote for the day: “The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you are doing, someone else does.” – Immanuel Kant