Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Cody, and More!
Established as America’s first national park in 1872, Yellowstone has bewitched human visitors for more than 11,000 years with its otherworldly landscape of geothermal features, coniferous forest, and high-altitude lakes and rivers. It’s one of the most visited places in North America, and this immense park is accessed on all sides by communities that command plenty of attention in their own rights - rugged western mountain towns like Bozeman, Cody, and Jackson. A trip to Yellowstone can easily be an adventure of a lifetime.
Although you won’t find an obvious gay scene in the region, in this part of the West, you’ll encounter a welcoming and generally tolerant live-and-let-live spirit, where locals tend to care more about whether their neighbors are reliable and honest than if they’re gay or straight. Bozeman and Jackson are among the most politically liberal towns in their respective states, and Cody is home to one of the few vocal proponents of gay rights in the Republican Party, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson. The town also hosts a fabulous Western fashion-themed fundraiser each September, the Rendezvous Royale (rendezvousroyale.org), whose efforts support the town’s outstanding Buffalo Bill Historical Center museum complex.
Furthermore, the U.S. National Park Service takes great pride in the diversity of its workforce and contributions by its LGBT employees (www.nps.gov/diversity/lgbt.htm), and its lodging concessions in Yellowstone (Xanterra Parks & Resorts) and Grand Teton (Grand Teton Lodge Company) are enthusiastically gay-friendly.
There’s enough to see and do within Yellowstone’s park boundary, which at 3,472 square miles is approximately the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, to keep you entertained for a full week. If you’re coming a long way to visit the park, you should try to spend at least four days here, and allow an extra two to three days if visiting any of the major park gateway communities, such as Bozeman, Cody, and Jackson (where you may want to spend a day or two in Grand Teton National Park). Trying to visit the region over a two- or three-day weekend is technically possible but very restrictive, and you’re likely to find yourself rushed and wishing you had more time.