Yellowstone in January is so amazing!
The park landscape is covered with snow. The steam from the hot pools and geysers is more pronounced in the cold air. And the wildlife stands out against the white snow.
There are many benefits to a January vacation to Yellowstone, but there are also some drawbacks as well.
Use this guide to determine if January is the best time for you to visit Yellowstone in the winter.
Be sure to check out all our Yellowstone vacation ideas for visiting the park any time of the year!
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WHAT TO PACK FOR YELLOWSTONE IN THE WINTER
CHECK THIS OUT & DOWNLOAD: Yellowstone Packing List
→ Insulted boots – Baffin boots are amazing!!
→ Heavy wool socks – we LOVE Darn Tough Socks!
→ Base layers – it’s all about wicking and quick-drying base layers.
→ Fleece jacket – Columbia fleece jackets are our favorite!
→ Insulated jacket – you’ll need a warm Insulated jacket to layer atop the fleece jacket for the cold mornings and evenings, trust us!
→ Waterproof rain jacket – fall weather at Yellowstone could mean sun, snow or rain so it’s a good idea to also pack a waterproof rain jacket.
→ Winter hat – it gets cold in the morning and evening during the fall so an insulating hat is always a good idea!
→ Winter gloves – put some winter gloves in your pocket just in case!
→ Rechargeable hand warmers – and our favorite new find are rechargeable hand warmers in addition to the gloves!
→ Neck gaiter – when the wind blows, it will be cold so a soft fleece neck gaiter or buff will help keep you warm.
CHECK OUT OUR Cold Weather Clothing & Gear List
TOP REASON TO VISIT YELLOWSTONE IN JANUARY
The top reason we enjoy visiting in January is the unique experience you can’t get anywhere else!
Yellowstone is a destination like no other, and in the winter it’s even more so with steaming geysers amid a snowy landscape.
And with limited ways to enter the park, you can enjoy the quiet and serenity at Yellowstone during the winter.
The biggest drawback to visiting Yellowstone in January is that all roads except from the north entrance in Gardiner to the northeast entrance in Cooke City are closed. You want to keep current on the fall and winter road closure dates and check current park conditions.
You can access the park from West Yellowstone and the south entrance near Grand Teton by snow coach tours, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or snowmobile tours (more info about non-commercial snowmobile access).
YELLOWSTONE WEATHER IN JANUARY
The weather in January is cold and snowy.
Average temperatures range from highs in the upper 20s and lows close to 0.
Layers are key when exploring the park in the winter. Reference our winter clothing guide so you can enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s cold!
THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY
If you’re close to the north entrance, be sure to drive the one open road from Gardiner to Cooke City, it’s a fun day trip.
As you drive through Lamar Valley, look for bison and elk… and if you’re lucky, you’ll see wolves, fox or moose!
The Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth remains open year-round and is a great resource for information about the park. There’s also a museum in the lower level of the Visitor Center, and rangers are available to answer any questions about closures that you may have.
HIKING IN JANUARY
Be aware there will be a lot of snow in January so you’ll need more than your hiking boots. Showshoeing and cross country skiing are the best ways to experience the trails at Yellowstone in the winter.
You can check the Backcountry Situation Report for all pertinent information about the backcountry.
YELLOWSTONE WATERFALLS IN JANUARY
We love to visit and take pictures of all the Yellowstone waterfalls.
In January, there are 3 waterfalls you can access along on the northern road:
- Undine Falls
- Wraith Falls
- Lost Falls
There are a few waterfalls you can see on snowcoach tours:
- Firehole Falls
- Gibbon Falls
- Lower Falls
The geysers and hot pools are fantastic to see and photograph in January.
It’s fun to see the steam rising from the hot pools and geysers and the snowy blanket of white surrounding these hot spots. Also be sure to look for the hoarfrost on the trees.
The snowcoach guides are so knowledgeable to explain all about what you see when you visit Yellowstone in the winter!
If you’ll be driving along the northern road from Gardiner to Cooke City, remember the parameters to keep you and the animals safe!
- Never approach animals. The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be.
- The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk.
- Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.
- Never park in the road or block traffic. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.
PHOTOGRAPHY AT YELLOWSTONE
Our number one photo tip is: be prepared for anything so you can capture the moment when it happens.
In January the weather can change from day to day. There may be sun, snow, clouds, fog, and frost that will create mood. Also look for reflections when taking pictures of Yellowstone.
And we always have our camera ready to go because the wildlife you may see won’t wait for you to find the camera in your car.
Hotels and Vacation Rentals Near Yellowstone
Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:
Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:
Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:
Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
Mountain View Cabin, Cooke City – great views and we enjoyed having a washer and dryer!
High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
YELLOWSTONE VACATION TIPS & RESOURCES
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner & 4 Day Itinerary
- Yellowstone Vacation Ideas
- Plan a Yellowstone Vacation
- Easy Yellowstone Waterfalls to See and Photograph
- Yellowstone in the Fall
- Visit Yellowstone in the Winter
- Yellowstone in October
- Yellowstone in November
- Yellowstone in December
- Yellowstone in January
- US National Park Pass – it’s a good deal!
- Yellowstone Maps & Guidebooks
YELLOWSTONE TOURS AND DAY TRIPS
- Yellowstone Tours
- Day Trips at Yellowstone
- Outdoor Activities at Yellowstone
- Attractions at Yellowstone