Michael Foth~TSM

If you live in Montana, odds are likely that you have been to West Yellowstone. Maybe you were visiting the park with out-of-state guests, maybe you had the family on a little vacation, or maybe you were just driving thru on your way to Idaho Falls or elsewhere south.

This quirky little tourist town (population 1,353) started as a railroad outpost in 1908 and changed names a few times until West Yellowstone stuck in 1920. It explodes with activity and buss loads of tourists in the summer months. I was there two weeks ago and it was still pretty quiet. About half of the hotels were not open yet for the season. I saw a lot of shops and gas stations preparing to open for the year with trucks and equipment parked out front.It seems that basically the place pretty much shuts down for the winter, which honestly has some appeal.

Not appealing to me though, it the amazing amount of snow they get. At 6,667 feet elevation, West Yellowstone is certainly High Country climate. With over 100 inches of snow annually, most of it sticks around forever into the late spring. West is frequently one of the coldest places in the nation, even in the summer. When we went thru, there was still over 3 ft of snow in the woods and giant piles around town.

We were lucky enough to catch the in-between-seasons rate on a nice motel room for just over $100 bucks. Had we waited another week or two it would have easily been over $200. Did you know there are over 36 hotels in town? If each has 200 rooms, that's 7200 rooms! Holy moly. Over 5 times the local population.

Remember to fill up your gas tank in Bozeman before you go.  Gas prices are outrageous.

Travel on,

Michael