Though Yellowstone has five entrances, the Roosevelt Arch makes the North Entrance the most dramatic. Located along the park’s north boundary at the town of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance was the first and only entrance in the early days of the park. The arch has welcomed visitors since 1903.
Although Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 under President Ulysses Grant, the arch was built later to welcome visitors arriving by train when the Northern Pacific Railroad extended to Gardiner. It was President Theodore Roosevelt, a conservationist and park supporter who dedicated the arch when he laid the cornerstone during a visit in 1903.
The arch was designed by Robert Reamer, the architect of the Old Faithful Inn and many other historic park structures. Built of columnar basaltic rocks taken from old lava flows in the park, the arch stands 50 feet tall. The opening archway is 30 feet tall and only 25 feet wide, so it is not the standard width for today’s two-lane roads.
In the early days, after a long train ride across the country, park visitors would board horse-drawn coaches at the Gardiner Railroad Station and pass through the arch on their way into Wonderland. Inscribed overhead is “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” from the 1872 congressional act that created Yellowstone as the world’s first national park.
As you pass through the arch to explore the marvels of Yellowstone, imagine yourself on a stagecoach, touring the park as the early visitors did. Think of all those who have traveled to this magnificent place before you, and left it protected for you to enjoy.