What You Need to Know about Cross-Country Skiing in Yellowstone


The swish of your skis through the snow, the time to take a deep breath of fresh mountain air, the slowly changing scenery, and the serenity of slow season in one of the world's most impressive natural areas — a cross-country ski trip in Yellowstone fuses all these factors. Here's everything you need to know about cross-country skiing this winter in Yellowstone National Park.

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Gear Up

Whether you bring your own gear, buy some when you arrive, or rent from one of the area outfitters, proper gear means a good time. You can rent gear right inside the park at the lodge at Mammoth Hot Springs, or pop into Parks' Fly Shop in Gardiner, Montana, for another on-the-ground option. Of course, Livingston and Bozeman aren't far from the park either, and both offer even more choices for rentals and purchases.

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If you decide that you can't make it up or down a hill, don't take off your skis and walk it. Putting boot holes in the track can be dangerous for other skiers, so instead, keep the skis on your feet and sidestep up or down to get past the tricky section.

When skiing on the road, vehicles have the right of way, so make sure you yield. You'll want to ski single-file, and just like when you're walking alongside a road, face the flow of traffic to help avoid accidents.

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Where to Go

There are plenty of places to ski around the park in winter, with difficulty level ranging from a leisurely walk in the park to strenuous hill climbs. Here are three near Gardiner that range from least to most time needed. No matter your schedule, we bet you can squeeze at least one of them in.

Mammoth Hot Springs Trails

This northern area of the park comes with spectacular views and plenty of opportunities to spy wildlife while being one of the most vehicle-accessible regions in Yellowstone during winter. Try one of these three ski trails, but know that there are plenty more both in Mammoth and beyond.

Upper Terrace Loop

Duration: An hour or less

This groomed 1.5-mile loop gives an impressive range of difficulty for how short it is, but it's still accessible to varied abilities depending on which direction you start. Going right from the trailhead takes you down a steep downhill section, while you'll get more of a moderate ride with a good leg burn if you head the other direction. Either way, you're still going to enjoy those famous views of the terraces at this thermal feature.

Indian Creek Loop

Duration: 1 to 2 hours

This loop is an easy, skier-tracked route that takes you through relatively flat terrain over the course of 2.2 miles. This is the perfect place to take beginners to try out the sport in a scenic setting.

Sheepeater Trail

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

Another easy option that's just a little bit longer, the Sheepeater Trail is great to get a sense of what five miles feel like with skis on your feet. At five miles one way, you'll glide over the snow with views of Swan Lake Flats that are sure to stun your s

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Guided Trips

Finding an outfitter offering guided trips can take a lot of effort out of the planning process. Yellowstone Forever, the park's nonprofit partner, offers trips that take a naturalist turn as you ski through the wilderness. And the Park Service also provides an impressive list of licensed tour operators ready to take you out in the park, keeping fun and safety in mind as you explore a sparkling and shimmering winter utopia.

Whether you call it Nordic skiing or cross-country, you are sure to have a great time with the swish of your feet in Yellowstone's backyard. If you have any questions or want more info, reach out to us at Highline Adventures, and we can help you figure out the best way to enjoy your time.