7 Reasons to Visit Yellowstone in the Winter

Yellowstone National Park is a must-see destination any time of the year, but in the winter it becomes a paradise for adventure travelers. Not only is it a place where you can go snowmobiling and cross-country skiing past steaming geysers and hot springs, but you can also snowshoe deep into the mountains as well. Winter visitors can also spot bison from the safety of their snowcoach and watch the park's famous wolves go on the hunt, with a stunning backdrop of fresh snow. At night, you'll be treated to a canopy of stars overhead, capping an utterly magical experience in one of the most spectacular outdoor playgrounds found anywhere on Earth. 

  • 01 of 07

    The Landscapes

    United States, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park in winter, thermal pools
    ••• CHARTON Franck / hemis.fr/Getty Images

    Winter in Yellowstone National Park is incredibly beautiful. Steam rises from the hot springs and geysers; bison wander across vast snow-covered fields and drink from streams that sparkle with ice crystals. Old Faithful continues to perform for guests just outside the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, were crowds are practically non-existent compared to the summer months. You'll see it all from the comfort of a snowcoach – or better yet while driving a snowmobile, cross country skiing or winter hiking.

    Yellowstone National Park Lodges (two are open in the park in the winter) has packages for adventurous travels. You'll find links to the 2010/2011 adventures below.

  • 02 of 07

    The Cross-Country Trails

    Cross Country skiing in Yellowstone National Park.
    ••• Paul Harris/Getty Images

    Yellowstone has hundreds of miles of cross-country trails threading throughout the park. Trail maps are available at the park's visitors centers and hotels open during the winter, allowing visitors to plot their treks carefully. Shuttles offers drop-offs and pick-ups at trail heads and  any equipment that is needed can be rented in the park.

    West Yellowstone, Montana, just outside the west entrance to the park also has miles of groomed cross country and ski skate trails in the Rendezvous Ski Trails system. It makes another great destination for anyone looking for further opportunities in the Yellowstone area. 

  • 03 of 07

    The Snowmobiling

    Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park
    ••• Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. (c)Lois Friedland

    Snowmobiling is allowed on specific roads in the park but only on guided tours. Snowmobiling excursions to Old Faithful are offered by several snowmobiling companies in West Yellowstone, just outside the park itself. Inside the park's borders, Xanterra, the company that manages the park's hotels, offers a snowmobiling package that allows riders to spend a night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge then ride 90 miles to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel the next day. Snowmobilers leaving from West Yellowstone also have the freedom to explore hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobiling trails and slopes in the U.S. national forests.

  • 04 of 07

    The Wildlife

    Bison in the Winter at Yellowstone
    ••• Dennis Walton/Getty Images

    The Yellowstone Association, which partners with the National Park Service, offers a variety of animal-watching day trips and multi-day programs for visitors. The group offers a number of programs, some of which include overnight stays so travelers can experience Yellowstone at dawn, viewing wolves, elk, bison, and other animals from a safe distance using spotting scopes. Naturalists lead the tours to help visitors to understand how these animals survive and interact in the wild.  For more information about various packages visit Association's website. 

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  • 05 of 07

    The Nighttime Tours

    Nighttime tour of Yellowstone in a snow coach
    ••• A nighttime tour of Yellowstone in a snow coach gives you a different perspective of the park. Yellowstone National Park Lodges

    Mist rises eerily around you as you carefully follow the outline of your guide along a wooden boardwalk, hissing geysers erupt in the dark. It's not the prelude to a horror movie, it's the start of an incredible snowcoach journey to see how alive Yellowstone can be at night, when some of the park's most well-known creatures come alive. 

    The highlight of the trip just might be the point at which the snowcoach stops, and everyone on board steps out into the dark. Standing there quietly, you'll look up into  a star-filled sky that one can only dream about while living in a light-infused city.

  • 06 of 07
    West Yellowstone, Montana
    ••• David H. Carriere/Getty Images

    On a Saturday morning in West Yellowstone, Montana, there are more snowmobiles driving along the streets than cars. This town is primarily lodging, bars, restaurants and shops for visitors who want souvenirs or cold-weather clothing, but it's a perfect gateway to exploring the park and the Gallatin National Forest. The town edges against the park, so you can take day-trips into Yellowstone via snowmobile or snowcoach.

    Be sure to visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, a non-profit wildlife park, to watch bears tussle and wolves prowl. There's also an exstensive cross country trail system close by. 

  • 07 of 07

    The Peace and Quiet

    Yellowstone Grand Canyon
    ••• Kelly Cheng Travel Photography/Getty Images

    Not many people visit Yellowstone in the winter so there is plenty of space to enjoy the beauty. The quiet is disrupted in the summer months, when tourists from around the globe come to the park en masse. But in the winter, it just miles and miles of solitude in a wilderness that is unmatched by any other.

    For More Information...

    For more information about visiting Yellowstone, go the the National Park Service Yellowstone web site