2010 USA Roadtrip Chico Hot Springs, MT to Gardiner, MT

We left Chico Hot Springs at  10:21 a.m. and arrived in Gardiner at 10:55 a.m. (34 miles). Gardiner has 851 people and an altitude 5267’. We found for the Chamber of Office but read on the door that it would not be open that day. We saw a big, beautiful building nearby named the Yellowstone Association and labeled visitor information. It is a privately funded association but they were happy to provide valuable information on Gardiner, the park and the surrounding area. Chuck, the volunteer, at the desk told us about the roads open in the park, the best areas for hiking and the best areas for viewing wildlife. Terry, the marketing manager, was helpful on restaurants and told us where he saw bison that morning.

We decided to stay at the Gardiner Super 8 (Gardiner: Super 8 Motel, North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Hwy. 89, 702 Scott St.,Gardiner, MT 59030 $62.48 room 201 (tel. 406-848-7401, 800-800-8000) web: www.yellowstonesuper8.com, e-mail: super8@wispwest.net, Super8 website: www.super8.com). The standard rooms were large enough, 350 sq. ft? with one recliner comfortable chair (that Dimitri really liked),  one comfortable chair with padding on seat and back and arms, one table and one desk. The price of $62.48 included wi-fi, continental breakfast, refrigerator, microwave, electric coffee maker, hair dryer. After looking around a little we decided to stay there.

We loved Yellowstone National Park. So many places are hyped and don't live up to expectations. Yellowstone delivered! Gardiner turned out to be a fine place to spend three days.

Taking Chuck's advice about wildlife viewing, we drove in the direction of the Northeast Entrance towards Cooke City through the Lamar Valley in the afternoon. We first stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs and viewed the pools and the vistas. Click here to read about our Yellowstone visits. We decided to arrive in Cooke City at the right time for dinner so that we could return on the road through the Lamar Valley at dusk, when Chuck said the best wildlife viewing would be.  The only restaurant open in Cooke City was The Bistro (214 Main St., P.O. Box 1149,  Cooke City, MT Tel. 406-838-2160) and it was only serving hamburgers and sandwiches. So, we had our once-every-five-years hamburger. It was okay. We shared it and the french fries and had 2 glasses of wine. We spent $18 plus tip. On the return trip to Gardiner at dusk we didn't see anymore animals than we had seen on the trip out. Oh well, it was fun to get to Cooke City this time (we had tried to get there when we were on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway out of Cody but the road was still closed at Colter Pass and we didn't want to risk it. Click here to read about our Cody stay).

The next day we went back to Yellowstone and to Old Faithful and had a great, but short, hike near Old Faithful. Click here to see our photo album snaps of Yellowstone.

For dinner on our second night in Gardiner we went to the Yellowstone Mine at the Best Western (Hwy. 89, Scott St., Gardiner, MT 59030, tel. 406-848-7336). It was the only game in town. We shared one daily special called "chicken bbq" that came with soup or salad ($16.95). We had the soup and it was good. The chicken bbq was chicken breast roasted and served with barbeque sauce on top, vegetables and potato. Fortunately the chicken breast was juicy enough for us and the sauce was okay. We ordered a side of asparagus ($2.95) and 2 glasses of Merlot ($9). The bill was $28.90; there's no sales tax in Montana and we were getting to like that very much!


Each morning before breakfast we would see either white-tailed mule deer or bison outside our window at the Super 8 in Gardiner. How cool is that?! On our third day in Gardiner it was snowy in Gardiner (but too not much). In Yellowstone, however, it snowed so much that the roads inside the park were closed. Still, we were told that the roads sometimes open in the afternoon once the spring snow has time to melt a little and the roads are plowed. No such luck. We really had wanted to go to the Canyons area of Yellowstone because it had been highly recommended to us. We couldn't get there so we ate our packed lunch of crudites and fruit in the car watching the snow fall near Mammoth Hot Springs (which was as far into the park as we could get).

While in Gardiner we did some shopping for cereal, fruit, vegetables and wine at the Food Farm on Hwy 89. We were amazed at how inexpensive the wine was there and how well stocked the store was (with all the things we like). We complimented the checker at the store and she says that they really try to cater to all of the international visitors who come to their store. They do a great job.

That night we had dinner again at the Yellowstone Mine at the Best Western. Our server was Veronica again and she was quite good. We shared 1 Prime rib queen: ($23.95 served with salad and sweet potatoes) and 2 glasses of Merlot ($9). The dinner was very good and the prime rib cooked to our (rare) specification. Dinner that night was $32.95 and we enjoyed it.

When we awoke the next day, Yellowstone's interior roads were closed because of a massive amount of snow. We decided not to wait another day to get into the park and instead to drive north to Bozeman, MT.