Yellowstone Winter Activities + Travel Tips

There are many Yellowstone winter activities to experience the park at an amazing time of year!

This Yellowstone National Park travel guide gives you all the information you need to plan a winter trip: things to do, what to pack, where to stay, and more!

Yellowstone winter activities everything you need to know

When you visit Yellowstone in the winter you’ll see the park covered in a blanket of snow with billowing steam and mist from the geysers.

The snow, frost and mist that covers the landscape and wildlife result in amazing Yellowstone National Park winter pictures!

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Yellowstone Winter Packing List

READ all about packing for a winter vacation in Yellowstone!

CHECK OUT OUR Winter Clothing Guide and Winter Photography Gear List

Hot pool with steam at Yellowstone in the winter
Hot pool with steam at Yellowstone in the winter

What It’s Like at Yellowstone in the Winter

The top reason we enjoy visiting Yellowstone in the winter 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. With limited ways to enter the park, you can enjoy the quiet and serenity.

Cell service in and around Yellowstone can be spotty in some parts and non-existent in other parts.

If you stay in park lodging, there are no televisions, radios, or Wi-Fi at the hotels in order to provide guests the most authentic wilderness experience. Check out our list of Yellowstone winter lodging ideas.

Because cell coverage is not reliable, it is a good idea to make proper preparations ahead of time. Print directions and reservations information prior to departure, or save them on a device that can be accessed offline.

Yellowstone Services in the Winter

Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance is the only part of the park open to wheeled vehicles in the winter. The road is open up to Cooke City, Montana, after which the road is closed (no through-traffic to Red Lodge, Montana or Cody, Wyoming). Services are very limited between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City, Montana.

Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt areas:

  • Albright Visitor Center
  • General Store
  • Mammoth Campground
  • Mammoth Clinic
  • Post Office
  • Mammoth and Tower-Roosevelt Service Stations – credit card fueling only 24-hours

Old Faithful area:

Canyon Area:

  • Canyon Yurt Camp
  • Canyon and Fishing Bridge Service Stations – credit card fueling only 24-hours

Warming Huts available in the winter:

  • Canyon Visitor Education Center Lobby
  • Fishing Bridge
  • Indian Creek
  • Madison
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Old Faithful Yurts
  • West Thumb

Always check the Yellowstone operating hours and seasons for the most updated information.

Yellowstone Roads in the Winter

In the winter all roads except from the north entrance in Gardiner to the northeast entrance in Cooke City are closed. Be sure to read the fall and winter Yellowstone road closure dates for the most updated year-to-year information.

You can access the park from West Yellowstone and the south entrance near Grand Teton by snow coach tourssnowshoeing, cross country skiing or snowmobile tours.

Is Winter a Good Time to Visit Yellowstone?

A Yellowstone winter vacation isn’t for everyone. Check out our guide for finding the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park. Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect each month during the winter at Yellowstone:

There are also best times to visit Yellowstone for wildlife. You’ll find a list of the animals you’ll see each month of the year at the park.

Yellowstone Weather in the Winter

The weather during the winter months in Yellowstone can be unpredictable and constantly changing. Check the Yellowstone weather daily so you’re prepared for the conditions.

Temperatures range from 0 to 20 degrees F during the winter. At night and at higher elevations, temperatures can dip below 0!

Layers are key when exploring Yellowstone in the winter. Reference our winter clothing guide so you can enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s cold! We recommend at the minimum:

Yellowstone winter snowcoach tour
Yellowstone winter snowcoach tour

Yellowstone Winter Activities

Winter in Yellowstone is not your ordinary vacation. In the winter the roads open to oversnow travel only via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski

Here are some fun things to do at Yellowstone National Park in the winter.

Yellowstone Winter Tours

You’ll find a variety of winter tours at Yellowstone National Park. Many of the tours will provide hotel pick up and drop-off. Most Yellowstone winter tours do NOT include gratuity for the guide.

Yellowstone National Park may require all guests to pay the entrance fee or show your National Park pass.

We enjoyed traveling along Yellowstone’s snow-covered roads in a bomardier snowcoach. There were no streams of cars, RVs or tour buses crowding the roads. If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone in the summer, you know this is a welcome change.

You’ll find Yellowstone winter tours to explore the park by snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles or snowcoaches!

cross country skiier
Cross-country skiing

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing at Yellowstone

All unplowed roads and trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Here’s a list of Yellowstone ski and snowshoe trails by region.

Canyon Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Canyon Rim, Cascade Lake, North Rim, Old Canyon Bridge, Roller Coaster

Mammoth Hot Springs Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Bighorn Loop, Bunsen Peak, Indian Creek, Sheepeater, Snow Pass, Upper Terrace Loop

Northeast Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Bannock, Barronette, Pebble Creek

Old Faithful Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Black Sand Basin, Divide, Fairy Falls, Fern Cascades, Lone Star Geyser, Mallard Creek, Mallard Lake, Observation Point Loop, Spring Creek

Tower Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Blacktail Plateau, Chittenden Loop, Lost Lake, Tower Fall, Yancey’s Hole

West Yellowstone Ski & Snowshoe Trails: Bighorn Pass, Black Butte, Daly Creek, Fawn Pass, Gneiss Creek, Riverside, Specimen

five snowmobiles
Snowmobile group tour

Snowmobiling at Yellowstone

The road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance is the only road in the park open to regular traffic all year long. All other roads in the park close in early November to prepare for the winter season.

By mid-December when enough snow accumulates on the roads, they open to “oversnow” travel only. This means the only way to visit Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other areas in the park during the winter is by guided snowmobile or snowcoach.

In addition to the tours listed above, here’s a list of more authorized tour companies for snowmobile and snowcoach tours.

Grand Prismatic in the winter
Grand Prismatic in the winter

Yellowstone Winter Photography

The winter landscape at Yellowstone is covered in a blanket of snow. There is frost on the trees and mist rising from the geysers.

Be ready with your WINTER camera gear to capture images of the landscape and wildlife as you drive along the road, or ski along the trails. We especially love photography gloves and rechargeable hand warmers!

We recommend you book a Yellowstone snowcoach that offers photo tours where there is flexibility to stop and take pictures at any time.

One of our favorite stops in the park was visiting Grand Prismatic where we captured the reflection of the winter landscape and rising steam in the water.

bison at yellowstone in the winter

Wildlife at Yellowstone in the Winter

The animals who call Yellowstone National Park home are even more exciting to watch in the snowy landscape. Winter is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone for wildlife!

We love to photograph the contrast of the white snow against the dark hair of the animal. You’ll see the bison plow away the snow with their massive heads.

In the winter, the northern range and Lamar Valley are the best places to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

Be sure to have the right camera and lens to capture animals that are in the distance:

Yellowstone Maps and Guides at Amazon:

Yellowstone maps and guides

Places to stay in West Yellowstone

Places to stay in Gardiner

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate

plan your dream vacation to yellowstone

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