You’ll need about 2 hours driving time to cover the distance from the Bozeman area to West Yellowstone. The road follows the Gallatin River up its beautiful mountain-bound canyon. Take Interstate 90 west to Montana Highway 85, which leads to U.S. 191, or take U.S. 191 due west out out of town and then follow it south. The village of Gallatin Gateway is 15 miles (24 km) from Bozeman, just off the highway. As you pass near it, you’ll see the restored Gallatin Gateway inn, built as the terminus of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad (nicknamed the Milwaukee Road), which operated a branch line to this inn from 1927 to 1961. In those years, park visitors arriving by train were met at the inn by the classic yellow park concessionaire’s buses. Soon you’ll be following the canyon of the Gallatin River, which flows north out of the park. The river has long been famous for its trout. Fishing scenes in the movie A River Runs Through It were filmed here in the 1990s.
Guest ranches and private vacation cabins are numerous in the canyon. There are several Gallatin National Forest campgrounds and trailheads along the highway. Approximately halfway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone (43 miles/69 km from Bozeman) is the turnoff to Big Sky. Motels and eating establishments are plentiful, and you’ll find a small chapel near the turnoff. Since TV journalist Chet Huntley began it in the early 1970s, Big Sky has become a major vacation resort and skiing center. Before that, this part of the Gallatin Valley was fertile farmland; it was known for its lettuce and provided oats and hay for Yellowstone Park horses in the very early years. Above Big Sky stands the pyramid of Lone Mountain, a glacial horn carved by the action of glaciers.
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