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.
It covers 600 square miles along the Lamar and Yellowstone river basins. A breathtaking 57-mile route traverses the range, bracketed by the Montana communities of Gardiner at the park’s North Entrance and Cooke City outside the Northeast Entrance.
The large concentration of wildlife, combined with open, rolling hills, makes the Lamar Valley an ideal location to see your favorite creatures. In winter, animals are even easier to spot against a snowy white canvas. Observe them from the frequent pull-outs along the road, and don’t forget your binoculars! To help you explore and experience the Northern Range in all its splendor, Yellowstone Forever offers multi-day programs and private tours based out of the iconic Lamar Valley or Gardiner, MT at the park’s north entrance.
Other winter trip ideas to this area include:
- Hit a trail on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Several popular, beginner-friendly winter trails are in the Northern Range. See a full list of park snowshoe and ski trails on Yellowstone National Park’s official website.
- Visit the frozen Tower Fall in the winter on skis or snowshoes. The dramatic, 132-foot waterfall is framed by the towering rock pinnacles for which it is named.
- Browse downtown areas of Gardiner or Cooke City, where you can visit shops and art galleries, or grab a bite to eat.
Where to Stay During Winter
Visitors can make reservations at one of the hotels in Gardiner, Cooke City, Silver Gate, or Mammoth Hot Springs. The gateway towns of Gardiner and Cooke City make great winter base camps for accessing Yellowstone and the Northern Range, offering a variety of lodging and other services.
The roads through the Northern Range are plowed throughout the winter but temporary closures are possible in extreme conditions. Check the park’s road status webpage before you go.
Photos: Top to bottom – Calcite Springs Overlook, YF / Matt Ludin; Bison in Lamar Valley, YF / Matt Ludin; The town of Gardiner, MT, YF / Matt Ludin