The five entrances to Yellowstone National Park welcome 3.4 million guests in an average year, virtually all of them traveling the same roads to enter the park. But as a guest at Yellowstone’s Edge we know you’re special, and we’d like to offer you a special approach to (or from) the park’s North entrance.
Zero your trip odometer as you leave our RV park, and turn LEFT on Hwy 89 towards Gardiner. After 13.9 miles you’ll turn RIGHT on to Old Yellowstone Trail. Keep your eyes open here, these meadows on both sides of Hwy 89 are home to Elk and Antelope. The road here is gravel and will climb to a great overlook at mile 14.8. Here you’ll be directly above the Point of Rocks fishing access site, with great views both up and down the valley. At mile 18.2 the road up Rock Creek will be on your right, and at mile 18.5 you can bear LEFT to return to Hwy 89 via the Carbella bridge. At mile 19.3 the road will fork, with the left hand fork taking you towards the park, and the right-hand fork sending you up into the National Forest land in the Tom Miner Basin. At mile 19.8 you cross under an arch, and the no trespassing sign is for the land on either side of the road, not the road itself. At mile 20.7 you’ll enter Forest Service land, and the start of Yankee Jim Canyon.
“Yankee Jim” George settled in this area in the fall of 1871, just four months before Yellowstone was declared our first National Park. Yankee Jim spent the next 18 months making improvements to the wagon trail that connected Yellowstone to Bozeman, and in July of 1873, with the installation of a gate, created the National Park Toll Road. Food and lodging were provided to travelers from a rustic cabin, and for 10 years business was good. But the Northern Pacific railroad soon moved in, requiring detours in Yankee Jim’s road, and allowing easier and faster access to the Park. And in 1893 Jim sold his road to Park County for $1000.
Jim continued to provide food band shelter to travelers, but in 1920, and in failing health, Jim sold his land and left the Canyon for the last time.
At mile 22.1 you’ll find a picnic table and an outhouse, and a brief overview of Yankee Jim and the toll road. The road gets slightly rougher from here, and caution is advised in wet conditions. At mile 22.7 you’ll see a cattle guard in the road and a new, very substantial fence running up the mountainside. This is intended to keep bison that might wander out of Yellowstone contained, and to minimize the mingling of bison with domestic cattle.
At mile 27.6 there is a sharp right hand turn that will take you up into the settlement in Cinnabar Basin. At mile 27.8 the Cinnabar Basin road will go left, over the river and back to Hwy 89. Just past this turn at mile 28.5 you’ll find a nice rest spot with a picnic table, outhouse and river access.
At mile 31.6 you’ll enter Yellowstone Park land and you can continue to mile 36.6 where you’ll meet the pavement again at the Roosevelt Arch/ North entrance.