Gardiner Gateway to Yellowstone National Park

Susan and I want to update the articles on our website to include the latest developments relating to Gardiner, Montana. As you probably know by now, the community of Gardiner was physically cut off from Yellowstone National Park because of the flooding and damage done to the road through Gardiner Canyon. The businesses in Gardiner had prepared to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of Yellowstone National Park. The anticipation was that there would be record visitation in the park, and through the Gardiner Gateway.

Gardiner Gateway is the original entrance to the park. The Hayden Expedition and the Barlow Expedition both entered the area, which would later become Yellowstone National Park, through Gardiner in 1871. The Northern Pacific Railroad built a spur line from Livingston to Cinnabar, Montana Territory, in 1883, three miles north of Gardiner. The line was extended into Gardiner in 1902 and the Roosevelt Arch was dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. Gardiner has served as the original entrance to Yellowstone National Park since the park was established in 1872. 

We want to give the reader a sense of how important Gardiner has been to the park, and vice versa. A symbiotic association between Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs, the headquarters for the park, has existed since the very beginning. The town of Gardiner is important to the park in many different aspects. It serves as an entry and egress to the park. Many park employees live in Gardiner and surroundings areas. Park vendors have headquarters and warehouses in Gardiner. The Heritage and Research Center, which houses the park’s museum collection and archives, is located in Gardiner.

We have never seen a situation such as has happened to Gardiner in our lifetimes. One day you are prepared for and anticipating a record season and the next day you are out of business. This has affected business owners, employees, residents and tourists throughout Gardiner, Paradise Valley and Livingston.

Communities throughout Southwest and Central Montana have been affected by the effects of the recent flooding. Extreme weather events such as this are directly tied to climate change. Record droughts in other parts of the state stand is stark contrast to the historic flooding in the Paradise Valley and Central Montana. The folks in Red Lodge and downstream communities have suffered widespread destruction from the recent flooding.

We believe that Gardiner will transition over the next couple of years to become a destination of choice and will experience a strong and long term recovery. The flooding in 2022 will be discussed in the future as the weather event that ushered in the next 150 years of the park. Gardiner Canyon will revert to its historical past without motorized traffic. The animals and plants in that area will no longer be stressed by the noise and having to deal with a constant flow of vehicles and people. The northern entry to the park will forever be changed from what it was. Those of us who can remember traveling through Gardiner Canyon will cling to their memories and what they saw going and coming. We saw an elk giving birth to a calf by the Gardner River, another elk calf taken down by a black bear on the cliff, and a bison calf and cow attempt to swim the river in high water and finally make it to the other side. Gardiner Canyon is unique and we will miss seeing it when we enter the park through Gardiner.

We want to recognize Gardiner as an important and historic community that has served as the northern entrance from the beginning of the park. It is a unique community with many stories to tell over the years. Gardiner, and the surrounding area, will recover from the floods of 2022 and come out even stronger and more resilient. The relationship it enjoys with the park will be closer and more indispensable than before. Gardiner relies on Yellowstone Park for its livelihood and the park relies on Gardiner as the main northern entrance and corridor. We wish everyone in Gardiner the very best and will continue to frequent the area every chance we get.