Your Guide to Winter in Yellowstone


When winter comes to Yellowstone, the season opens up an array of experiences that most visitors to the park—who visit in summer—don’t ever get to explore. But for the lucky few who brave the snow in pursuit of wild winter Yellowstone adventures, the trip is one they’ll always remember. Here’s everything you need to know to spend a slice of winter in Yellowstone.

Slow down and enjoy the experience

Winter in Yellowstone takes a slower pace than summer’s hustle and bustle. Road conditions might be slick, and bison traffic jams can lead to slowdowns. Embrace the pace, and expect to take your time to enjoy the park and stay safe in winter.

Come prepared for closures

As the slow season in the park, winter invites peace and serenity and brings the benefit of fewer people. But with that comes seasonal closures. You can check the park website for up-to-date road closures and advisories. Wildlife activity might mean certain trails are closed, and snow can mean some areas are inaccessible, both on dirt or pavement.

Most park roads are closed to private vehicle traffic in the winter months, with the exception of the road through Lamar Valley to Cooke City. That means that the only way to get to spots like Old Faithful is over snow, whether by snowmobile tour or snow coach ride. Be prepared for seasonal closures before you arrive, and you can craft your perfect winter Yellowstone getaway.

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Know that services will be limited

It’s not just park roads that close down for winter. Many hotels, restaurants, and service stations in and around the park also shut up shop for the colder weather and lower visitation. That means you want to consider grabbing a lunch to go before you set out or making sure your gas tank is full before you start your drive through Lamar Valley.

Expect any weather

Weather in Yellowstone can be variable at all times of year—you could get a snowstorm on the Fourth of July or a heat wave in late autumn. But especially in winter, it’s important to be prepared for anything. Check the weather ahead of time, and change your plans if conditions look dicey. If you always have a backup plan, it’s no trouble to be spontaneous and shift your schedule around if your first choice isn’t safe.

Get comfortable with winter safety precautions, too. Make sure your car emergency kit is stocked, bring extra layers, and fill your day pack with the ten essentials before you head out on the trail. If you plan to head into the backcountry, brush up on your avalanche safety skills, and know what to do in an emergency. If you’re unsure of how to stay safe in winter conditions (or you just want to get more out of your trip), a guided snowshoe or snow coach tour is a great option.

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Choose your dream destinations

Yellowstone in winter does come with its fair share of safety considerations, but it’s a pretty dreamy place too. A snowy white ribbon around Grand Prismatic’s vivid color show, steam rising in the cold air from the geyser basins, or wildlife easier to spot trotting across the white way: all make a winter visit extra special. Dream of where you want to go and make your winter trip to Yellowstone happen.

Stay in a gateway community for the best of all options

When not all services are available in the park during the winter, staying in a gateway community is a great way to enjoy amenities and dining options with a comfortable stay without having to be far from the entrance gates.

The Travelodge by Wyndham - Gardiner Yellowstone Park North Entrance and the Super 8 by Wyndham Gardiner / Yellowstone Park Area both welcome guests to the gateway community of Gardiner year-round. Book your stay, and experience a true Yellowstone winter.