Top Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Winter

The Top 4 Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Winter

Yellowstone National Park was the first designated National Park within the United States and is widely regarded as the first National Park in the world. Established as a park in 1872 by Congress, it was a major influence in creating the National Park Service in 1916.

Yellowstone is known for its wildlife and active geothermal areas. Even though it is a popular summer destination, Yellowstone also has some excellent winter activities. Winter in Yellowstone provides opportunities to go on tours that are fun for the entire family, wildlife, and small crowds. It makes it a great time to visit.

Read on to learn all the things to do in winter in Yellowstone that you can partake in with your significant one or the entire family. Enjoy!

Winter in Yellowstone: Bison
Bison on side of the road

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

Winter Guide to Yellowstone

Top Sights in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park in the Winter: Sulfur Springs
Sulfur Springs

During the summer months, roads connect the entire park, when all sites are open and accessible. However, during the winter, only some of these roads are accessible, either by car (in the north) or by tour (in the south).

  • Norris Basin & the geothermal areas
  • Mammoth hot springs
  • Lamar Valley
  • Old Faithful geyser
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Best Time to Visit Yellowstone

Winter Activities in Yellowstone NP: Madison River
Madison River

The best time to visit Yellowstone is during the summer between June and September to be able to explore the entire park. However, don’t let that discourage you from a winter trip.

The winter months bring different activities that are enjoyable for all ages. Snowcoaches and snowmobile tours take over for the cars and head into the park with way fewer crowds. These tours are a great way to see Yellowstone.


Winter Activities in Yellowstone

1. Take a Scenic Drive in the Lamar Valley

Yellowstone NP Winter Activities: Bison
Bison walking on a bridge

Drive to the Lamar Valley from the northeast entrance near Gardiner. Alongside the road, there are several viewpoints and parking areas. This region of the park has lots of wildlife, including bison, wolves, fox, bighorn sheep, elk, and the occasional grizzly bear.


2. Take a dip at the Mammoth Hot Springs

Winter in Yellowstone: Boiling River
Boiling River Hot Spring

The Mammoth Hot Springs are accessible from the northeast entrance near Gardiner. There is a walking platform to view some sulfur springs up close. To best enjoy these springs, head over to the Boiling River.

Driving to the park exit from Mammoth, there is a small sign reading “Leaving Wyoming, Entering Montana.” Following this sign, there are parking lots on both the right and left sides of the street. Park here and walk the 0.5-mile trail down the river, to a natural spring in the river.


3. Explore the sites by Cross Country Skiing or snowshoeing

Yellowstone National Park in the Winter: River
The Yellowstone River

The best area to explore in the winter by skis or snowshoe is the Lamar Valley. There are several trails that allow you to get up close to the wildlife. Another popular place for cross-country skiing is at Rendezvous Ski Trails just outside the park in West Yellowstone.

Rental costs for skis or snowshoes range from $15 – $25 per day.


4. Take a Winter Snowmobile Tour

Winter Activities in Yellowstone NP: Snowmobile
Riding the Snowmobile

Highlighting the winter activities in Yellowstone are the snowmobile tours. Tours originate from West Yellowstone and can take you on an Old Faithful tour or Grand Canyon of Yellowstone tour.

We recommend the Old Faithful tour. Stops include all the major sites in the area, including Old Faithful, Sapphire Pools, mud pots, and Firehole Falls. The tour begins at 8 am finishing at 5 pm, with a total of 80 miles.

The cost for 1 or 2 people is $322 + tax with Buffalo Bus. Clothing rentals cost extra.


Tour Companies and Rentals in Yellowstone

**Parks’ Fly Shop (Gardiner, MT) – Rent snowshoes or cross-country skis for the day in North Yellowstone. $15 snowshoes, inquire for skis/day.

Free Heel and Wheel (West Yellowstone, MT) – $25 Snowshoes, $35 skis/day.

See Yellowstone (West Yellowstone, MT) – Snowcoach and Snowmobile tours. Inquire for pricing.

**Buffalo Bus (West Yellowstone, MT) – Snowcoach and Snowmobile tours. A snowmobile tour is $322 per snowmobile (two people can go on one snowmobile for $343). Snowcoach tours are $228 per person.

**Recommended

That’s it – have an amazing winter in Yellowstone National Park!


Planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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Author

  • Yana and Timon

    Yana & Timon met at college in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, they started their professional careers. They moved to San Francisco in 2010, a city they loved living in for nearly six years.

    After working and saving up money for several years, they quit their jobs and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. They started living a nomadic lifestyle in December 2015 and have not looked back since.

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