Yellowstone in winter is a true wonderland—a place of natural beauty and inspiration, with steaming thermal features, incredible snowy landscapes, and recreation opportunities for both the novice and the expert. Those who have visited will undoubtedly tell you it was the trip of a lifetime. But with so much to do and see, it can be overwhelming. From wildlife watching to winter photography tips to all-inclusive adventures, we’ve put together 11 convincing reasons why visiting Yellowstone in winter is a can’t-miss.
1. Wildlife Watching
Yellowstone may be one of the most popular destinations in the world for wildlife watching. And it may be doubly so in winter, especially in the park’s Northern Range. Wolves, fox, moose, elk, bison and other animals are more visible and majestic against a blanket of snow. The Yellowstone Forever Institute offers Private Tours all winter long to help you catch the park’s incredible wildlife in action.
2. Lodging & Learning
Yellowstone Forever and Yellowstone National Park Lodges have made it much simpler and more enjoyable to travel to Yellowstone in winter with our Lodging & Learning packages! We take care of the logistics so you can spend your energy experiencing the park. You’ll stay at park hotels, will be led by a naturalist guide, and your trip will include in-park transportation. We’ll even throw in awe-inspiring scenery, hot springs, and world-class wildlife viewing opportunities. **As Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is closed for the 2022-23 winter season, programs will be run out of the Yellowstone Forever Overlook Campus in Gardiner, MT. Programs will be based out of the Mammoth Hotel again for summer 2023 programs.
3. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch
The historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch is located in the heart of Lamar Valley and far from other development. We are so fortunate that the iconic ranch serves as the home base for most of our Institute Field Seminars. There is no experience like staying overnight at the ranch, and the cabins are only available to participants in Field Seminars. Past participants will likely say that staying at the ranch is worth the trip in itself!
4. Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
There is no better way to immerse yourself in Yellowstone’s winter than by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Skis and snowshoes allow you have a more intimate experience in the park. They give you the ability and freedom to explore geyser basins, see frozen waterfalls, and reach expansive views that you would not otherwise be able to.
5. Wildlife Tracking
If you look with a careful eye across Yellowstone’s snow-covered landscapes, you’ll notice a wide variety of animal tracks crisscrossing the park. While some species such as grizzly bears hibernate, others tromp, trudge, meander, scurry, and slide through the snow in order to survive and thrive in winter.
6. The Northern Range
Yellowstone’s Northern Range is the only area of the park accessible by automobile year-round. Spectacular in every season, this region also happens to be one of the best places in the world to view wolves and other free-roaming wildlife. You’ll find a more quiet experience with less crowds as you make your way from Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, Lamar Valley, and out to the park’s Northeast Entrance.
Each and every year visitors have the opportunity to spend a holiday to remember, relaxing with kindred spirits amid the inspiring winter landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. Staying in the park during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year makes for a unique holiday experience and memories to last a lifetime. Participants on these special Institute programs spend their days watching wildlife and taking snowshoe rambles through a snowy wonderland, and evenings relaxing at the cozy Lamar Buffalo Ranch. Keep your eyes out for 2023-24 winter program details.
There is no better time or place to view wolves than during the winter in Yellowstone National Park. This is particularly true in the park’s famed Lamar Valley, where wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone between 1995 and 1997. Each year, visitors have the opportunity to join our expert instructors for guided winter wildlife-watching programs. And there are a number of wolf-specific programs to choose from. Yellowstone Forever is proud to have been a supporter of the Yellowstone Wolf Project from the very beginning.
9. Winter Photography
Winter in Yellowstone is a dream location for landscape and wildlife photographers. Snow and frost make for unimaginably dramatic scenes and the park’s magnificent wildlife are more easily visible. However, winter conditions in Yellowstone also present unique challenges for photographers. Luckily, we’ve put together the tips you need to make the most out of your winter photography excursion to Yellowstone National Park.
10. Otherworldly Thermal Features Pop
Yellowstone’s colorful hot springs become even more vibrant against the snow, frost, and steam of the park’s geyser basins. By staying overnight at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, you have the rare opportunity to experience these natural wonders during the magic of winter.