Yellowstone Winter Travel Tips
Winter Travel Tips
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!
Here are a few fun facts about sweater weather in Yellowstone National Park. 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 winter experience.
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 for recorded information and/or sign up for road updates by texting 82190 to 888777.
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 or other over snow transportation to Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins is required. Here 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.
Did you know:
- Although its classic “parkitecture” style suggests otherwise, The Old Faithful Snow Lodge was recently constructed in 1998. Thanks to an increasing interest in winter travel to the park, the lodge converted the Old Faithful Campers Cabins service building from the 70’s into what you see today.
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 roads connecting the North Entrance at Gardiner, MT and the Northeast Entrance at the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, MT are plowed and passable by automobiles, when conditions are good. Four wheel or all wheel drive is recommended, and essential, at certain times during the winter season.
Snowcoach transportation from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to Old Faithful Snow Lodge is available.
We also offer a daily shuttle bus service (winter season only) from the Bozeman Airport to/from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to allow our guests to avoid the expense of renting a vehicle while allowing our experienced drivers to handle the winter roads. Please note: you must have lodging booked at either Mammoth Hotel or Snow Lodge to book the airport shuttle.
To see which routes are passable in the winter, check out this interactive park map and road opening/closing timetable.
Did you know:
- The first motorized over-snow vehicles in the park were wingless, two-person “snow planes”, essentially motorized cockpits with rear propellers (like an airboat) developed by West Yellowstone, MT resident Walt Stuart in 1948
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. Grab a pair of skates and practice your pirouette on our outside ice rinks, 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? Check to see if there are any special events happening during your stay.
Did you know:
- Yellowstone is a Nordic skier’s paradise, with miles of skier-tracked and groomed trails. Rent ski gear, book a lesson, or take a guided tour. Ski shuttles offer scheduled ski drops at trail heads.
- Yellowstone has two outdoor ice-skating rinks, one at each hotel. The use of skates is complimentary, so work up an appetite for dinner by taking an evening whirl around our rink.
- Glide effortlessly over untrodden paths without getting mired in snow. Snowshoeing is a wonderful way to go off-the-beaten-path. And it’s easy. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! Go on your own or take the Old Faithful Snowshoe Tour.