Yellowstone Winter Travel Tips [Infographic]
Winter Travel Tips
Our Winter 2020/21 operations have been modified in order to address current health and safety guidelines. Further information can be found here.
Visiting Yellowstone in the winter is like being let in on one of America’s best, most beloved secrets: when the park is covered in snow, it becomes a magical winter wonderland. If you’re ready for an entirely new, other-worldly experience, then pack your bags-and your jacket, hat, and mittens-and get ready for a dramatic, often overlooked adventure!
We’ve already shared why winter is a perfect time to visit Yellowstone National Park! If we’ve convinced you to plan a winter trip to Yellowstone, there are a few things you should know before you go. With changeable weather patterns, fluctuating temperatures, snow-covered roads, and seasonal services available, be sure to prepare for winter conditions in order to make the most of your Yellowstone experience.
Here are a few things to be mindful of before making embarking on your winter adventure in Yellowstone National Park:
What to Expect
Since the land area of Yellowstone National Park is so large, weather conditions, snowfall amounts, and temperatures can vary from one part of the park to another. In general, temperatures range from zero to 20F throughout the day, and sub-zero temperatures overnight are possible.
On average, the park receives 150 inches of snowfall each year, but areas of higher elevation can receive double that amount.
On occasion, severe winter weather can result in the temporary closure of park entrances or roads. Stay up to date on Yellowstone National Park road information by calling 307-344.2117.
What to Bring
Staying warm and dry is the key to a great winter getaway in Yellowstone National Park! Be sure to pack plenty of insulating layers, including a mid-weight and a heavyweight layer as well as a lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket and pants.
Pack an insulated hat that covers the ears, gloves, a neck warmer or neck gaiter, and heavyweight synthetic or wool socks. Choose insulated and water-repellant boots that fit over thick socks, and remember that your regular hiking boots probably won’t be warm enough to stay comfortable.
Other good items for your pack include a thermos for hot liquids, sunscreen and lip protector, and pocket hand and foot warmers.
Check out our list of Yellowstone winter essentials for a full breakdown of what to pack.
Where to Stay
Mammoth is the only visitor accommodations accessible by automobiles and buses during the winter, making it a popular destination for wildlife watching, winter sports, and setting off into the park’s interior for snowcoach excursions. For guests who are looking for a little more privacy, Mammoth also offers four hot tub cabins that are winterized.
Travel via snowcoach to Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins, where guests can rent skis or snowshoes and explore the hot springs and geysers of the Upper Geyser Basin. Choose from a lodge room or a Western or Frontier Cabin.
How to Get Here and Get Around
From early November through mid-April, the park’s interior roads are closed and the only way to visit Old Faithful and other attractions is by snowmobile or snowcoach. The road connecting the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana and Northeast Entrance at the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana is plowed, is passable by automobiles.
To see which routes are passable in the winter, check out this interactive park map.
What to Do
Just because it’s cold and snowy doesn’t mean the action comes to a halt during winter in Yellowstone! Winter provides unique opportunities to explore the park on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Rent a pair of skates and practice your pirouette, or set out on a snowcoach journey through the park’s interior, where the scenery can range from gorgeous mountain ranges to steamy geyser basins.
While some animals, such as bears, spend the winter hibernating, many others are roaming the park during the colder months. It’s not uncommon to see bison, elk, coyotes, wolves, eagles and/or bighorns, and more during a Wake Up to Winter Wildlife Tour or Lamar Valley Wildlife Tour. Bundle up and don’t forget your camera!
Prefer to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy? Why not check out one of Mammoth Hot Springs’ special winter dining events?
For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
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