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When you visit Yellowstone in the winter, you’re in for a treat!

It’s surreal to see the park covered in a blanket of snow with billowing steam and mist from the geysers. And that snow, frost and mist that cover the landscape and wildlife result in amazing Yellowstone winter photography.

As you start to plan a Yellowstone vacation, consider visiting in the winter. It’s the best time to enjoy the quiet, natural setting of the park that is non-existent during the busy summer months.

If you’re looking for a unique vacation where you can get away from it all, we recommend a trip to Yellowstone in the winter.

 

Looking for a unique national park experience? Visit Yellowstone in the winter. Use our guide to plan your trip: where to stay, what to do and what to pack! #nationalparks #yellowstone #yellowstonenationalpark #winter #photojeepers

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WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT YELLOWSTONE IN THE WINTER

Yellowstone in the Winter is a Unique Experience

Views of hot pools against white snow when you visit Yellowstone in the winter.

Views of hot pools against white snow when you visit Yellowstone in the winter.

Winter in Yellowstone is not your ordinary vacation.

Vehicles are not allowed in the park around the first week of November, except from Mammoth Hot Springs through the North Entrance.

In mid-December, the roads open to oversnow travel only via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski. 

Man sticking head out of bombardier snowcoach at Yellowstone in the winter

Park access via a bombardier snowcoach at Yellowstone in the winter.

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 been to Yellowstone in the summer, you know this is a welcome change.

Can you imagine a better setting than Yellowstone to enjoy fun winter activities to explore the park by snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles or snowcoaches?

BOOK A SNOWCOACH OR SNOWMOBILE TOUR

Quiet and Solitude in the Winter at Yellowstone

Steaming geyser at Yellowstone National Park in the winter.

Steaming geyser at Yellowstone National Park in the winter.

Not many people visit Yellowstone during the winter.

Finding quiet in the summer months is hard. During the winter months, Yellowstone offers miles and miles of solitude in a landscape that is unmatched by any other.

Reflection of snowy mountain and steam in water at Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone in the winter

Reflection of snowy mountain and steam in water at Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone in the winter.

It was a welcome change to stop at popular locations like Grand Prismatic and the only sounds we heard were the flowing river and bubbling hot pools.

If you enjoy a destination that offers quiet and solitude, Yellowstone in the winter should be at the top of your bucket list.

Yellowstone Winter Photography is Spectacular

Photographer taking pictures of a snowy landscape at Yellowstone in the winter

Photographer taking pictures of a snowy landscape at Yellowstone in the winter.

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

As you can image, taking pictures of the Yellowstone landscape in the winter is a unique adventure for any nature photographer.

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

Reflection of snowy mountain and steam in water at Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone in the winter

Reflection of snowy mountains and steam in the water at Grand Prismatic Spring.

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.

Tree with frozen icicles on the branches at Yellowstone in the winter

Tree with frozen icicles on the branches at Yellowstone in the winter.

We were awestruck by the ice formations on the trees near the areas with hot pools and steam.

Dead tree stump in a hot spring at Yellowstone in the winter

Dead tree stump in a hot spring at Yellowstone in the winter.

You’ll capture images that you can only get when photographing Yellowstone during the winter months.

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY FACEBOOK GROUP

This is the group for you if…

 You have a camera
 You like taking pictures
 You want to improve your photography skills

Wildlife at Yellowstone in the Winter

A bison with a snowy face walking down a snow packed road in Yellowstone during the winter.

A bison with a snowy face walking down a snow packed road in Yellowstone during the winter.

The animals who call Yellowstone National Park home are even more exciting to watch in the snowy landscape.

Bison: During the winter, 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. Be patient and wait long enough for them to look at you and you’ll get that awesome shot of snow all over the bison’s head!

A bison with a snowy face standing in snow in Yellowstone during the winter.

A bison at Yellowstone with a snowy face.

Wolves: Photographing the wolves in Yellowstone is pretty tough.  You’ll see wolves, but they are usually too far away to get a good photo. Most of the photos of wolves in Yellowstone are shot through spotting scopes with cell phones mounted to the eyepiece to get a snapshot.

We were lucky to see wolves ‘near’ the road when we were there. Even with the 500 mm telephoto lens we had, it was hard to get an image where the wolf fills the frame.

wolves near a bison in the snow at Yellowstone in the winter

Wolves near a bison at Yellowstone in the winter.

We didn’t get the perfect photo where the scene is sharp due to the bad light and weather, but wow, being able to see about 8 wolves in close proximity was amazing. 

Coyotes and fox: During the winter Coyotes are fun to watch mousing. They sneak around the snow to hear noise from a mouse.  When they hear it, their whole body stiffens up and they suddenly spring into the air and dive head-first into the snow to grab the mouse.

Elk, trumpeter swans, river otters and other animals can also be seen in Yellowstone during the winter.

Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Winter

Firehole Falls waterfall in the winter at Yellowstone National Park

Firehole Falls waterfall in the winter at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone waterfalls are one of our favorite things to photograph in the park.

During the winter, the snowy landscape provides a unique setting to showcase the photos of these waterfalls.

A snowcoach can take you to see the Firehole Falls on your way to Old Faithful, or you can see the Lower Falls on a trip to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Keep your eyes open for wildlife along the rivers. We saw trumpeter swans, elk and bison as we ventured through the park.

 

PLANNING A WINTER TRIP TO YELLOWSTONE

 

Hopefully we’ve convinced you to visit Yellowstone in winter. Here’s all you need to know to start planning your winter trip to Yellowstone.

 

  • Yellowstone’s winter season runs from mid-December to mid-March.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful are the only two areas of the park with facilities open in winter (lodging and dining).
  • The only road that is open to private vehicles runs between the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana, to the Northeast Entrance in Cooke City, Montana, via Tower Junction. (While the road is “open” to cars, it may close temporarily due to weather or other reasons.)

Always check the National Park Service website for the latest information about specific dates and services in Yellowstone during the winter season.

How to Get to Yellowstone

The Yellowstone Regional Airport is just outside of Cody, Wyoming and about 50 miles from the park’s East Entrance. It offers service from Salt Lake City and Denver.

Jackson Hole Airport, on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, is about 50 miles south of the park and offers service from Salt Lake City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana, is about 90 miles from the park’s north entrance, which is the only entrance open to car traffic in the winter.

Car rentals and shuttle service to nearby towns and hotels are available at all of the airports.

What to Expect at Yellowstone in the Winter

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.

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.

US national park packing lists - get the download

What to Pack for a Trip to Yellowstone in the Winter

photographer at Yellowstone in the winter.

Dress warm when visiting Yellowstone in the winter.

Yellowstone in the winter is cold. Expect bitter cold temperatures and much snow. With the right cold weather gear you’ll be prepared for the cold so you can enjoy the adventure. Dress in layers so you can shed a heavy coat when/if the sun comes out and warms things up for a bit.

Definitely pack the following items for a winter vacation to Yellowstone:

Cold Weather Gear List

 

Pack the National Parks Pass

Before you visit Yellowstone National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone in the Winter

Hotels and Vacation Rentals Near Yellowstone

If your home base will be West Yellowstone, we have stayed at and recommend:

Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone

ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone

If you’ll be exploring the Northern part of Yellowstone, then we suggest you stay in Gardiner, Silver Gate or Cooke City, Montana. We can recommend these places we’ve stayed:

Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner

Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with awesome fireplace and comfy bed!

Mountain View Cabin, Cooke City (Airbnb)

CHECK THIS OUT: $40 Coupon for Airbnb

We hope these travel tips help you to plan an amazing Yellowstone vacation in the winter. Here’s a few more resources for planning a trip to Yellowstone:

How to Plan the Perfect Yellowstone Vacation

Lamar Valley in the Winter

Winter Wolf Watching at Yellowstone

Visit Yellowstone in the Fall

Yellowstone in October – is it a Good Time to Visit?

Yellowstone Waterfalls

You are more than welcome to CONTACT US if you have any questions – we love to help people enjoy their time at Yellowstone.

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Enjoy geysers, wildlife and waterfalls in the winter at Yellowstone. It's a unique experience you'll never forget. Use this guide to help plan your trip to Yellowstone in the winter! #nationalparks #yellowstone #yellowstonenationalpark #winter #photojeepres

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