Western Gateway to Yellowstone National Park
Ashton, Idaho is the gateway to Yellowstone for much of the western United States. If you are going to Yellowstone from the western states of Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah or Arizona, you are most likely going to drive through Ashton. Ashton, Idaho is a small town at at the doorstep of Island Park, Idaho. Island Park being a small mountain community on highway 20, about 45 minutes prior to entering West Yellowstone, Montana, home of the west gate of Yellowstone National Park and perhaps about the midpoint between Ashton and West Yellowstone.
Many Yellowstone visitors have been to Ashton and most don’t even realize it. Almost literally, if you blink as you enter or leave the valley of Idaho at the base of the mountains/caldera of
Island Park…you will probably miss Ashton. There’s one primary stop sign, but you only experience this stop sign if you are crossing the highway that leads to Island Park and Yellowstone. If you are going to or from Island Park or Yellowstone, there is no stop sign and you can easily breeze right through.
One of the more common attractions in Ashton is the pseudo drive in/dine in restaurant called the Frost Top located on the northwest corner of main and highway 20 (the intersection with
the stop sign for one direction.) The Frost Top is a fairly popular American food restaurant for those traveling to or from Yellowstone and Island Park, with decent food at moderately elevated prices. It is a good establishment to support the local economy and the only moderately priced restaurant for not just miles but nearly an hours drive not counting a local bar. Want a bar/restaurant? There’s a handful along the quaintly sort length of the struggling downtown east along Main Street from Highway 20. If finer dining is your preference, check out Trails in about 2 blocks east on Main off Highway 20.
Ashton is a quiet, quaint, small rural farming town with a few small outfitting stores serving local fishing and Island Park recreation interests, a few hardware stores, including an ACE (?) Hardware, a single small grocery store with earlier than average closing hours but a surprising variety and a small single level motel.
Ashton also serves as a hub of sorts to the isolated access parts of Yellowstone that still lay within Idaho such as Cave Falls.
There are numerous back country alternate routes from Ashton to and through Island Park and related waterways, scenic routes, campgrounds and fisheries. A few Ashton country roads also provide a north access to the Teton Range (if you know what roads to take – thanks google maps – and yes, it can take hours to drive 20 miles and you may just need 4-wheel drive if there has been rain or other bad weather recently or to just clear the rocks and divets in the dirt road).
Personally, I love the peaceful, quiet, simple hometown tranqulity of Ashton. Many people might get bored in Asthon, but many other’s like it that way. One of Ashton, Idaho’s amazing features is the starry night sky that can be seen on a clear night, regardless of the time of year. One usually has to travel to remote high mountain ranges to begin to get a glimpse at the such a night-time sky, unless you are in Ashton, Idaho.
In visiting Ashton, you will likely observe that the town could use some growth. It does have a High School though with a locally attracted Friday night football game if that’s one of your interests. Though I don’t recall seeing concessions, just a small town friendly game of an American farming community.Share It!