Winter in Yellowstone National Park
We’ve always said that visiting National Parks in the winter is a great way to ditch the crowds and get a unique perspective on a particular park, and Yellowstone is no exception. Although the logistics can be challenging, winter in Yellowstone National Park is one of the coolest visits we’ve experienced in a park, and we’d recommend it to anyone. With a little help from a park concessioner and guided tour company, Yellowstone can be explored from most entrances, and there are plenty of snowy adventures to be found.
Things to see and do in Yellowstone National Park in Winter
AFtT Tip: Traffic is limited during winter in Yellowstone National Park. The only road that is open to the public is between the North and the Northeast entrances. This will give you access to Mammoth Hot Springs. All other roads are closed to everything but over snow vehicles - OSVs for short - like snow coaches and snowmobiles. These are available as guided trips through park concessioners.
- Book a snow coach tour
- Cross-country ski
- Snow shoe
- Book a stay at the historic Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hotel
- Take a Yellowstone snowmobile tour
- Practice your winter photography
- Spot wildlife
- Sleep in a yurt near Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
There are many guide companies available, but pay attention to which park entrance you will be near, as not everyone operates tours to every section of the park. For our trip, we booked with Teton Science Schools since they offer tours from Jackson and the South entrance. Our guide Mike was incredible, and our ride was the best! Who doesn’t want to ride around the snow in a van with snow tracks?!?
Yellowstone National Park Winter Hours
Yellowstone National Park is open in winter, but access is limited. Make sure you check weather, road conditions, and access here before making any plans to visit in your own vehicle. Otherwise, book a guided tour and leave the driving to someone else!
Fees for Yellowstone National Park
We recommend purchasing an annual pass at the entrance station because you’ll probably also be visiting nearby Grand Teton National Park. They are currently $99 and good for everyone in your vehicle. The price of the pass is not included in the price of your winter tour, so be sure to budget for that.
Directions to Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is enormous. At 2.2 million acres and entrances on all sides of the park, there is a lot to see and do.
From Jackson Hole in the south:
From Jackson, the Yellowstone south entrance is a little over an hour away. Take highway 191 north out of Jackson. Don’t be surprised if takes longer – you’ll be driving alongside the Snake River and Grand Teton National Park, so you may need to stop for a photo or two.
From West Yellowstone:
If you’re making West Yellowstone your home base, guides can take you to Mammoth Hot Springs in the north end of the park or south to the geyser basins and Old Faithful.
From the North:
Those flying in to Bozeman, MT will be entering through the north entrance most likely. This is the only entrance that is open to public traffic. Visitors can visit Mammoth Hot Springs and then drive east through the Lamar Valley.
From the East:
The east entrance of Yellowstone is closed in winter.
Airports near Yellowstone National Park
Flights to Yellowstone National Park arrive in the following nearby airports.
In Wyoming: Jackson (JAC) is about a 1:15 drive to the south entrance, and Cody (YRA) is about an hour’s drive to the east entrance.
In Idaho: Idaho Falls (IDA) is about a 2 hour’s drive to the west entrance station.
In Montana: Bozeman (BZN) is about a 1:30 drive to the north entrance, and Billings (BIL) is about a 3 hour drive to the north entrance.
Yellowstone National Park Stats
Date created: March 1, 1872 as America’s first National Park
Annual Visitors: Over 4 million
Fun Fact: Earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park are very common! Yellowstone is one of the world’s largest calderas and experiences between 1,000 and 3,000 earthquakes annually. It also contains over half of the world’s geysers!
Visitor Centers and Passport Stamps
The Albright Visitor Center near Mammoth Hot Springs in the northern Yellowstone is open during winter. Here you can find exhibits, information, restrooms, and a park store run by Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park.
Other visitor centers that are open in winter are The Canyon Visitor Education Center located north of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center in the town of West Yellowstone, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center near Old Faithful. Albright and West Yellowstone are the only ones accessible by car. The others will require a guide and OSV.
Other Nearby Parks
The closest National Park to Yellowstone is Grand Teton National Park, which is directly to the south of Yellowstone. Since they are next door neighbors, you should plan on visiting both if you can. If you are staying in Jackson, this makes it easy. Consider taking a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge while you’re there.
Other nearby NPS sites include Craters of the Moon National Monument in ID, Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, and Wind Cave and Badlands National Parks in South Dakota. Don’t forget to explore some of the stunning National Forests in the area as well.
Have you visited Yellowstone National Park in winter?
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