Hot Springs Village claims to be the largest gated community in America. It boosts 9 golf courses, 7 lakes, 16 tennis courts, 2 country clubs, 20 miles of hiking trails, a library, a performing arts center, fitness center, marina, seven entrance gates, onsite police, fire and EMS and its own sanitation, recycling and water treatment facilities! It is located only 12 miles from Hot Springs National Park.
Shane and I are not so much a fan of the gated community. They appear beautiful on the surface but they come with all sorts of commitments and attachments. Now don't get me wrong when I visit my sister and brother in law in their beautiful gated community I take full advantage: I swim in at least 2 of their 6+ pools, I use the fitness center, run on the immaculately kept sidwalks and so on and so forth. But Shane and I always agreed it was not for us. We want land with no neighbors and the luxury of doing what we want, when we want to!
However, after thinking about it I realized that I have been fooling myself! I actually live in one of the biggest, busiest gated communities in the country! Yellowstone National Park Gated Community boosts 2.2 million acres, biking trails, hiking trails, horseback riding and over 300 waterfalls. There are a variety of lakes, 2 marinas and some of the best fly fishing opportunities. We have a community center, hot springs, several small fitness centers, 3 clinics, 5 post offices, 5 small grocery stores, a daycare, 6 restaurants including the 5-star Old Faithful Inn restaurant (which generally requires reservations), 2 cafeterias, 6 grills and over 6 gift shops. There are 6 museums and the Yellowstone Association offers educational courses year round that include photography, painting, writing, wildlife ecology, geology and botany. We also have onsite police, fire, EMS and our own recycling, sanitation and water treatment facilities. We have our own website which is updated each morning so that residents stay on top of weather and road conditions as well as other important news updates. Housing rates are low and offer a variety of accomodations ranging from studio apartments to 4 bedroom, 2 bath private homes. Homes are generally built to preserve the natural surroundings and offer forest and mountain views. Most homes tend to be 2nd homes used only in the summer. In fact the yearround population is approximately 400+ residents whereas in the summer it can be upwards of 1500+.
Unemployment rate is low as over 95% of the residents are employeed by our gated community. Overall physical and mental health of residents is good as most work and recreate outdoors and daily commutes to work are within .2-4 miles. Sounds good, doesnt it?
Granted our gated community sees approximately 3 million people per year however visitors must pay $25 per vehicle for a seven day access pass. Fees are used to maintain and repair facilities such as picnic areas, trails, roads, restrooms etc. Residents who have friends and family visiting must call the gate to inform the staff of their arrival. Name(s) and arrival times must be provided. Once friends and family pass through the entrance gate it can be confusing for them to get to your house and usually requires them to call you from the gate to get more specific directions to your house! If you have many visitors coming to visit you need not worry about space- Vacant studio apartments can be rented for $20 per day or for higher end visitors you can reserve them a room in the beautiful Old Faithful Inn.
My gated community is so popular that even famous people come to visit. Famous people such as President Barack Obama and his family.
Aside from being one of the biggest gated communities mine is among the oldest. Established in 1872 the first homes were built in the North part of my community known as Mammoth Hot Springs. The homes in that area are historic structures. I used to live in one and enjoyed the fine architecture however because my home was so noteworthy it was often photographed by visitors which infringed on my private space! I now live in a newer home built in the late 80's in a quiter part of this gated community. It is located within 1 mile from the shores of Lake Yellowstone and two miles from the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
Within a 1hour drive from the South Entrance you can find yourself in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, WY. Jackson Hole can be quite expensive- average homes start at 1/2 million dollars. Direct flights to Seattle & Las Vegas depart Jackson Hole, WY regularly if one needs to visit a Metropolis, although you will find that after being in the serenity of Yellowstone National Park Gated Community the desire to be in an urban area decreases dramatically. A one hour drive from the North Entrance brings you to Bozeman, MT, the home of Montana State University. Bozeman is a typical college town with good food, music and microbrews.
One hour from the Northeast Entrance is the Beartooth Mountains Wilderness Area. This drive has been designated as America's most scenic highway, travelling through high alpine country above 10,000 ft.
So although one might think it is very different to live in Yellowstone I am realizing that it actually isn't. I have a Yellowstone Gated Community sticker on my car that tells people "I live here". Sound familar gated community friends?
But after this personal revelation (that at first made me sad cause I DO live in a gated community) I can't help but smile and think "Eat your heart out Hot Springs Village Gated Community, you got nothing on Yellowstone National Park Gated Community!