Yellowstone National Park is a must-see destination any time of the year, but in the colder months it becomes a winter wonderland that entices even the most seasoned adventure travelers. Simply put, winter is beautiful in Yellowstone National Park. Take away the 4 million warm-weather tourists that crowd the park during the summer months and you’re left with pristine, snow-covered landscapes, untracked boardwalks and the pleasure of watching wildlife undisturbed. The experience is nothing short of magical.
Here are 8 reasons we love visiting Yellowstone in the winter (and why you should too):
1. Experience the park in a whole new way
In the winter, with park-access primarily limited to guided snowcoach and snowmobile tours, experiencing Yellowstone’s vast landscapes, geothermal features and wildlife is much more intimate. Steam rises from hot springs, geysers treat visitors to glistening snow showers and frosty bison wander across vast snow-blanketed vistas. Old Faithful continues to put on her show, but crowds are nowhere to be seen compared to the bustling summer months.
2. See the geothermal features against a snowy backdrop
Don’t get us wrong, seeing Yellowstone’s geothermal forces at any time of the year is a powerful experience. But, witnessing them in the winter takes it to a whole different level. Just visit West Thumb Geyser Basin and you’re sure to be in awe as you take in the stark contrast of each hot spring’s colors against the snow. Better yet, discover what happens when moisture from erupting geysers freezes amongst its surroundings…we’ve found some pretty amazing sculptures to say the least!
3. Easily track and spot wildlife
Aside from transforming the park into a winter wonderland, snow creates another great opportunity for the park’s winter visitors: viewing wildlife. Against a backdrop of white snow, the dark coats of Yellowstone’s most famous habitants can be spotted more easily. And if they can’t be spotted, they can be tracked! Snow offers a phenomenal story when we look down and follow the tracks of those that have passed before us.
4. Hit the trail on foot, skis and snowshoes
Yellowstone National Park offers miles of trails and boardwalks traversing some of the park’s most famous geothermal features as well as its least-frequented wilderness. Getting a chance to travel these paths by skis, foot or snowshoes is yet another experience worth checking off the list in this winter playground and just might get you in sight (but not too close) of a herd of bison or elk.
5. Get a glimpse of the frosted bison
The American Bison is an impressive animal to witness any time of year, but its winter coat truly makes it stand out as a must-see. Huge balls of ice dangle from the animal’s beard and its thick coat can often be seen covered in frost from standing in close proximity to geysers and hot springs. It’s truly a sight made even more special without the huge crowds.
6. Sharpen your photography skills
It’s no secret that Yellowstone National Park is a mecca for even the most novice of wildlife photographers. Just find a herd of bison in the summertime and you’re sure to hear the “clack-clack-clacking” of hundreds of cameras striving for the perfect image. In the winter, however, photographers not only have the pleasure of capturing the beauty of the park blanketed in snow, but an opportunity to do so at their leisure. No pressure from bustling crowds, no pressure to beat traffic, just one-on-one time with the camera to hone skills and capture memories.
7. Take a ride in snowcoach
We can’t say there are too many other opportunities in this world to jump in a vehicle that looks like it could be a leading character in the movie Transformers. That’s exactly what you’ll do when you embark on one of our Wildlife Expeditions snowcoaches. Designed specifically to travel over the snow, these vehicles pack all the punch needed to endure winter with the comfort of a luxury safari. View all that Yellowstone has to offer from one of the giant panoramic windows or pop your head out of the rooftop hatch with some binoculars for a more sensory experience.
8. Bask in the solitude
Yellowstone National Park is one of our country’s most iconic wild places and yet most visitors make their trip during the summer months when the park is inundated with 4 million other visitors. There’s something to be said for visiting when you can experience it completely on your own. No other time of the year can you visit Old Faithful by yourself or walk the Mammoth Terraces alone. We’re not sure about you, but for us, those perks alone make it well worth the journey!
Interested in experience Yellowstone in the Winter?
Interested in multi-day Winter Adventure?