Yellowstone In Winter

Yellowstone National Park is a popular winter playground offering totally unique scenery and activities. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. A winter visit is an amazing experience you will never forget.

The park receives heavy snowfall and temperatures are often very cold. Visitors need to be prepared for harsh conditions.

Only two park roads are kept open to wheeled vehicles during winter:

  • The road between the north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to the northeast entrance at Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana.
  • From Mammoth Hot Springs to the parking area at the Upper Terraces (approximately 1/2 mile of road)

Virtually all travel to interior areas in the park is by snowmobile or snowcoach and requires the services of a commercial guide. Slots are limited and advanced reservations are strongly recommended.

Lodging is available near park entrances. In the park's interior, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and associated cabins are open from mid-December through early March. Access is via snowcoach. An adjacent restaurant and gift shop serve people staying at the lodge.

Yellowstone is evaluating its winter recreation options and may make changes from season to season. Plan ahead and check current regulations as you plan your trip.

Popular Winter Activities

  • Snow coach touring
  • Snowmobile touring
  • Cross country skiing/snowshoeing
  • Wildlife watching

Average Winter Temperatures F°

Month High Low
November 39° 19°
December 31° 12°
January 29° 10°
February 34° 13°
March 40° 17°

Only commercially guided snowmobiles and and other over-snow vehicles are allowed on interior park roads. Best available technology snowmobiles are required, and there is a daily limit on the number of snowmobile and snowcoach entries. Off-road use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches is prohibited. The park is open for oversnow vehicle travel from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (the East Entrance opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 9:00 p.m.).

Commercial tours have been organized around various interests. The majority of visitors participate in full or half-day interpretive tours in heated over-the-snow vehicles. Such tours provide access to major attractions including Old Faithful, other geysers and frozen waterfalls.

Cross country ski and snowshoe tours also visit scenic attractions. You can ski or snowshoe right from Old Faithful Snow Lodge and see attractions in that area. Other tours use snowcoaches to access trailheads.

Guides are required for all snowmobile trips into the park. You can rent machines from local outfitters or bring your own (only best-technology snow machines are allowed). Even if you bring your own machines, you are still required to go with a guide.

Some snowcoach and snowmobile tours cater to photographers; others specialize in wildlife watching opportunities. Yellowstone's famous bears are usually hibernating during winter, but occasionally one makes an appearance. It is usually easy to find bison and elk at key spots in the park. You can also book tours into areas where you may be able to observe wolves.

Commercial guides have the experience and equipment needed to provide safe and enjoyable trips into the park. A visit to Yellowstone is always an exciting adventure. During winter it is an experience you will never forget.

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