Yellowstone National Park was the first designated National Park within the United States, and widely regarded as the first National Park in the world. It was established as a park in 1872 by Congress, and was a major influence in the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. Yellowstone is known for it’s rich wildlife and active geothermal areas.
During the summer months roads connect the entire park, when all sights are open and accessible. However, during the winter, only some of these 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
When to Go
Most go to Yellowstone between June and September. This is the best time to fully explore the park. However, the winter months bring different activities that are enjoyable for all ages. Packed with snow, the roads are taken over by snowcoaches and snowmobiles. These tours are a great way to see Yellowstone without the crowds.
From the northeast entrance near Gardiner, drive to the Lamar Valley. Alongside the road, there are several viewpoints and parking areas. This region of the park has an abundance of wildlife, including bison, wolves, fox, bighorn sheep, elk, and the occasional grizzly bear.
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 side of the street. Park here and walk the 0.5 mile trail down river, to a natural spring in the river.
Cross Country Ski/Snowshoe
The best area to explore in the winter by skis or snowshoe is the Lamar Valley. There are several trails which 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.
Highlighting the winter activities 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 of the major sights in the area, including Old Faithful, Sapphire Pools, Mudpots, and Firehole Falls. The tour begins at 8:30AM finishing at 5PM, with a total of 80 miles.
Cost for 1 or 2 people is $209 + tax with Buffalo Bus. Clothing rentals cost extra.
Tour Companies and Rentals
**Parks’ Fly Shop (Gardiner, MT) – Rent snowshoes or cross country skis for the day in North Yellowstone. $15 snowshoes, $20 skis/day.
Free Heel and Wheel (West Yellowstone, MT) – $25 Snowshoes, $25 skis/day.
See Yellowstone (West Yellowstone, MT) – Snowcoach and Snowmobile tours. Enquire for pricing.
**Buffalo Bus (West Yellowstone, MT) – Snowcoach and Snowmobile tours. Snowmobile tour is $215 per snowmobile (2 people can go on 1 snowmobile). $15 for full gear rental. Snowcoach tours are $135 per person.
Alpen Guides (West Yellowstone, MT) – Cross Country Ski Tours, enquire for pricing.
**Beard and Curly recommended
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Published on 02/21/2016 by Beard and Curly. Visited on 1/16/16 and 1/17/16.