Make Your

I have an Interagency Access Pass/Senior Pass   [ ? ]

*Do not check this box if you have an Annual Pass.

10 Fun Facts about Winter in Yellowstone

10 Fun Facts about Winter in Yellowstone

Written by: , March 14th, 2024
Categories: Winter

Winter Fun Facts

If you haven’t been to the world’s first national park in the winter, you haven’t truly experienced Yellowstone. The vast park that occupies the northwestern corner of Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho becomes a snow-covered wonderland during the winter months, and the travel experience is entirely different than during the summer season.

Here are some fun facts about winter in the world’s first national park:

1. The first motorized oversnow vehicles in the park were snow planes which were motorized cockpits with rear propellers but no wings.

Developed by West Yellowstone, Mont. resident Walt Stuart, the “planes” marked the beginning of over-snow winter-season travel in Yellowstone. A later vehicle carried the pilot/driver and one passenger and was designed with skis, a closed cockpit, rear-mounted propeller, and rudder. In 1949, three snow planes made 19 trips into the park, transporting a total of 35 people.

Beryl Spring in winter

2. Sometimes, you can see your shadow on a moonless night.

There is little artificial light in the park, and starlight shadows are present on nights when there is no moon but bright stars.

Snow cave on a starry night

3. Every winter, trumpeter swans travel from the Arctic to the relatively warm temperatures of Yellowstone.

These elegant birds – the largest wildfowl in North America – often congregate in the Gallatin River, where they can easily be seen by visitors traveling to or from the West Yellowstone, MT entrance. They can also be spotted inside the park along the Firehole, Madison, and Yellowstone Rivers.

Trumpeter Swan on ice

4. Yellowstone National Park receives between 50 and 200 inches of snow each year

Snowfall is generally much higher in the interior of the park than at each of the park entrances.

A snowcoach travels down the road during a winter storm

5. The National Park Service closes roads to personal,wheeled vehicles the first Sunday in November and begins plowing roads in late April.

The only road open year-round is from the north entrance at Mammoth to the North East entrance at Cooke City, MT. During the winter, roads into the interior of the park can be accessed via snow coach or snowmobile. The projected NPS road opening and closing dates can be found here.

Norris Junction southbound sign in winter

6. Winter visitors are treated to the sight of “ghost trees” that look like they are covered in snow.

In fact, the trees are covered in rime frost, which forms when extremely cold water droplets freeze almost instantly on a cold surface.

Rime ice covered trees in Norris Geyser Basin

7. Old Faithful Snow Lodge is only around 20 years old.

Although its classic “parkitecture” style does not suggest it is so new. Construction of the lodge was prompted by increasing interest in winter travel to the park. The original Snow Lodge opened during the winter of 1971/72 and was a conversion from its initial purpose as the Old Faithful Campers Cabins service building.

Old Faithful Snow Lodge lobby registration.

8. The park is a Nordic skier’s paradise, with miles of skier-tracked and groomed trails.

We groom the trails and offer an array of scheduled ski drops at trailheads, guided tours, and ski lessons.

9. Ice-skating rinks and complimentary use of skates is offered at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Grab a pair of skates and take a spin around the ice rink at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or Old Faithful Snow Lodge. It’s the perfect activity to work up an appetite for dinner or before an evening nightcap by the fireplace.

Ice skating at Snow Lodge (3)

10. Winter is one of the best times of the year to view wolves in the wild.

Yellowstone National Park can feel like your own personal park in the winter. There is nothing quite like hearing the howl of a distant wolf, cross-country skiing within sight of a slow-moving, frost-covered bison, or being the solitary observer of an Old Faithful geyser eruption late on a winter afternoon. It’s not too late to book a stay this winter!  Learn more about winter in wonderland.

Wolves feed on a bison carcass at Blacktail Ponds

For A World of Unforgettable Experiences® available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and our sister companies, visit

Want to experience Yellowstone in-depth? See what makes Yellowstone National Park a great place to work for a season or longer!