Yellowstone National Park
Winter in Yellowstone
Visit Yellowstone in winter to enjoy a truly spectacular landscape where snow blankets the park and geysers spout towering plumes of steam and water through the cold, crisp air. Enjoy the snowy scenery through snowcoach and snowmobile tours, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and many other winter park programs.
What to Wear
Winter temperatures can range from well below 0°F throughout the day, to occasional highs in the 20s to 30s. Guard against frostbite by dressing warmly. When preparing for any park activity, dress in layers and wear a hat, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and comfortable boots.
All park roads are restricted to tracked, over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles and snowcoaches, except for the road from the North Entrance to Cooke City and the part of US 191 that passes through the park’s west side, which are open year-round.
Winter Lodging and Services
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel: The only winter lodging accessible by car, the hotel features a dining room, espresso service and lounge, ski shop, rentals, lessons, ski supplies, hot tub rentals, guided snowmobile tours and ice skating. Special events include Sunday breakfast buffets, a New Year’s Eve dinner and theme dinners in January and February (like a chocolate buffet, Winemakers’s dinner and Brewmaster’s dinner). A Yellowstone General Store and a medical clinic are nearby.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge: This award-winning lodge is accessible in winter by over-snow vehicles only. A family-style dining room, a quick-service restaurant, the Firehole Lounge, a gift shop, massage therapy and ice skating are available. Special events include Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners and a Brewmaster’s dinner. The full-service Bear Den ski shop rents ski equipment and snowshoes, and offers ski guides, lessons and a repair shop. Snowcoach excursions run daily.
Whether you decide to join knowledgeable guides or explore the park on your own, you will treasure your memories of Yellowstone in winter. For details and rates on activities, contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts or pick up a Winter Rates and Packages brochure at any park hotel.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Enjoyable short trails are located throughout Yellowstone, including the Blacktail Deer Plateau, Tower and Indian Creek areas. Forty miles of trails wind through the spectacular Old Faithful area where skiers can see hot springs, geysers, elk and bison. There are ungroomed backcountry trails and groomed trails.
Check at lodge front desks for information about shuttles to and from ski trails. Ski rentals, waxes, trail maps and other equipment are available at both hotel ski shops. In addition to regularly scheduled guided ski tours, private and group lessons and ski tours can also be booked. Ski maps are available at ski shops, visitor centers and hotels.
Snowmobile Tours: Xanterra offers snowmobile tours through its Trail of the Wolf travel package. This includes lodging at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, breakfasts, and a guided snowmobile tour of the park. A morning wolf-watching tour by van to Lamar Valley is also included.
Snowcoach Tours: Xanterra’s heated over-snow vehicles transport you into the heart of this snowy paradise of frosty bison, sculpted ghost-trees, steamy thermal pools and angelic trumpeter swans, while knowledgeable guides reveal the various chapters of the park’s winter story.
Ski/Snowshoe Shuttles: Vans and snowcoaches from Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful Snow Lodge provide convenient shuttles deeper into the park.
Ski Tour: Journey by snowcoach to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. A guide will lead you to the frozen, sculpted Lower Falls where glistening snow dusts the golden canyon walls.
Snowshoe Tours: Certain sights are best enjoyed via the quiet strides of snowshoes. Even with no previous experience, “shoeing” over a glistening snowfield seems effortless. Feast your eyes on the unearthly plumes of geysers, stunning scenery and wild creatures. Snowshoes are available for rent at both hotels.
Lodging and Learning Packages
These affordable adventures allow you to explore the park with an expert instructor from the Yellowstone Association Institute by day and return to historic park hotels at night for excellent meals, comfortable accommodations, and evening programs provided by Xanterra Parks & Resorts.
Choose from two wildlife programs (Winter Wolf Discovery, Winter Wildlife Expedition), a ski program (Yellowstone on Skis) and two programs that provide a general introduction to winter in the park (Winter in Wonderland, Old Faithful Winter Expedition).
To learn more about these award-winning programs, call (866) 439-7375 or visit YellowstoneAssociation.org.
Warming huts are located throughout the park for snowshoers, skiers and snowmobile travelers. Some are staffed during the day, and all are open 24 hours (except for Mammoth and Old Faithful). Snacks, sandwiches, hot items and beverages are available at Madison. There are beverages and vending machines at the other huts except Indian Creek and West Thumb.
The National Park Service conducts numerous talks, illustrated programs and informational tours designed to help you appreciate the park’s wonders. Ranger-led hikes and walks are also offered. Check at visitor centers for schedules.
Reservations and Information
For advance lodging, dining, tour and activity reservations, contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts at (866) GEYSERLAND (439-7375) or visit YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com. If you are already staying in the park and wish to reserve additional lodging or activities, the front desk staff at the park lodges can make arrangements.