WINTER IN YELLOWSTONE PARK
Winter In Yellowstone Park is a magical time and place, and if you’ve never experienced it, we highly recommend that you do. And when you do, there are some things to know that will make your Yellowstone Winter visit more enjoyable and more memorable, and that is what we’ll discuss in this article…. and just in time because the Yellowstone Park Winter Season opens December 15, 2013.
Two Lodges To Choose From, Two Different Worlds
There are basically two different worlds during a Winter in Yellowstone Park. One world is the “Mammoth Hot Springs Winter World” and the other is the “Old Faithful Winter World”. These worlds are indeed different from one another, and which world you choose depends on what you are most interested in.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Area
Located 5 miles south of the North Entrance at Gardiner Montana, the “Mammoth Hot Springs Winter World” includes Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and area, as well as the road between Gardiner Montana and Cooke City Montana, via Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley. This road is the only road open to wheeled vehicles all year long, including the entire Winter in Yellowstone Park. Only snowmobiles and snow coaches are allowed on all other roads throughout the Yellowstone Park winter season.
Outstanding Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
If you’re most interested in seeing wildlife, then you might want to consider staying at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, because the northern section of Yellowstone National Park receives the least amount of snow, and therefore many animals congregate here. Known as the “northern desert”, this area of Yellowstone National Park is home to a lot of bison, as well as a fair number of wolves, coyotes, fox, elk, eagles, and the occasional moose throughout the winter months. River otters are also found along the Lamar River all winter long. There are also bighorn sheep in the area, as well as pronghorns wintering just beyond the North Entrance at Gardiner Montana. Of course you more than likely won’t see any bears because they’re sleeping in their dens during the Winter in Yellowstone Park.
The world famous Lamar Valley, which is located along the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City at the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone Park, is a great place to view wildlife during a winter in Yellowstone Park, but you will most likely see wildlife all along this incredible drive between Gardiner and Cooke City.
Additional Activities Near Mammoth Hot Springs
In addition to wildlife watching, there are plenty of places to snowshoe and cross country ski along this northern road throughout the Winter in Yellowstone Park. And of course there are the amazing geothermal feature known as the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces right in the town of Mammoth that are open all winter for visitors to enjoy.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Area
The other “world” during a Winter in Yellowstone Park is the Old Faithful Area. The Old Faithful Inn is closed, however the gorgeous Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open for business, as well as a few restaurants and gift shops. The only way to get to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge is by snowmobile or snow coach, and the main hub for taking visitors to Old Faithful is West Yellowstone Montana. Other places of entrance is near the East Entrance, which Cody Wyoming is close to, as well as Flagg Ranch near the South Entrance of Yellowstone, which is north of Jackson Hole Wyoming. But West Yellowstone is definitely the most popular place to hop a ride on a snowmobile or snow coach to get to Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
Geysers and Snow
The Old Faithful Area experience is different than the Mammoth Hot Spring experience during a winter in Yellowstone Park because there is a lot more snow. So if you’re looking for an incredible “winter wonderland”, then this area is your best bet. However, because of all the snow, very few animals choose to hang out here in the winter. Bison (a.k.a. buffalo) are the most prominent animal in the Old Faithful Area. But even though there is not a large variety of animals in this heavy snow area, it does provide incredible opportunities to see thousands of geothermal features surrounded by snow. Seeing these super hot geothermal features in subzero temperatures, with snow all around them, is absolutely magical and something everyone should experience at least once.
Beyond Old Faithful
In addition to these activities, keep in mind that all the main roads throughout Yellowstone Park in winter are groomed on a daily basis, allowing snow mobiles and snow coaches to travel throughout Yellowstone Park on day excursions. You be able to visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as Yellowstone Lake and Hayden Valley. The only road that is not open to any type of vehicle is the stretch between Tower Fall and Canyon, which is the Dunraven Pass area.
If You Have Time…
If you have time, and you’d like to experience it all, we recommend that you spend some time on the northern open road between Gardiner Montana and Cooke City Montana, via Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley to enjoy some incredible wildlife watching, and also spend some time at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge so you can enjoy an incredible winter wonderland of really deep snow, as well as seeing many of the major geothermal features of Yellowstone Park in Winter.
If You’re Too Late…
Now, if you’re too late in getting reservations for Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, then a great alternative is to stay at the entrance towns of Gardiner, Silver Gate or Cooke City Montana for the northern dessert excursions including the Lamar Valley, and West Yellowstone Montana is ideal for exploring the Old Faithful Area and beyond.
For More Information…
Yellowstone Park is such a magical place during the winter season, and it is impossible to adequately describe just how magical and incredible it actually is. You’ll simply have to find out for yourself… and more than likely, once you experience a winter in Yellowstone Park, you’ll come back again and again.