Cities and Towns of South Central Montana
West Yellowstone, Montana is located on US Highway 20, near the junction of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Located less than two miles from Wyoming, it is best known as the western gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Highway 20 and connecting state roads are open year-round.
The Oregon Short Line Railroad opened the south-central tip of Montana to settlement and commerce in the early 1900s and in 1920, land that had originally been part of Yellowstone National Forest was signed over for private development, paving the way to the formal establishment of a town site.
While parts of the nearby national park are closed to traffic during the winter, the town of West Yellowstone and some of the surrounding forest areas are open during all four seasons. Popular winter activities include hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. The world-renowned Rendezvous Ski Race, a part of the American Ski Marathon Series, takes place in West Yellowstone each year. Also, there are more than 600 miles of snowmobile trails within easy reach from town.
Western Montana is also known for its fishing, kayaking, and horseback riding opportunities. Situated amidst numerous lakes and rivers, the West Yellowstone area is considered a premier destination for the dedicated angler. South Central Montana's rivers and lakes are world famous for their brown and rainbow trout fishing. Nearby Hebgen Lake, which is fed by the Madison River, offers canoeing, kayaking and sailing, as well as ideal opportunities for catching that 14- to 20-inch trout.
Accommodations vary from comfortable hotels to rustic ranches. Camping and RV accommodations are scattered throughout the area. Visitors who are planning to visit the national park may wish to make a stop at the Yellowstone Historic Center first, which has rotating exhibits on Yellowstone history and ecology.
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