What to do in Yellowstone in Winter
A winter vacation in Teton Valley offers so much to do. Skiing at Grand Targhee or Jackson Hole, snowmobiling in the Big Hole Mountains, cross-country skiing on groomed trails, the sheer beauty of fresh snow on the mountains, and warm drinks next to cozy fireplaces. But there’s one more thing that you can do while you’re here – visit Yellowstone!
While most people tend to think of Yellowstone National Park as a green, summertime place, it’s an entirely different – and yet equally fantastic – place to visit in the winter. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snow coaches are a few of the ways to access this pristine winter wonderland. Plus there’s the benefit of more wildlife, and less people, to make your visit even better.
If you’re planning on visiting Teton Valley in the winter and want to take a trip to Yellowstone as part of your adventures, here are a few ideas to help you plan your stay.
Yellowstone Park Access in Winter
Beginning in late October, many of Yellowstone’s roads close to automobile traffic for the season. Once there is sufficient snow on the ground (usually by December), many of Yellowstone’s roads are groomed and accessible via snowmobile or snowcoach. If you’re staying in Teton Valley, the south and west entrances are the two closest entry points for Yellowstone.
Yellowstone South Entrance: Drive over the Teton Pass to Jackson Hole (be prepared for stunning scenery) and then head north past the Jackson Hole Airport for the south entrance to Yellowstone where you’ll enjoy even more stunning views as you drive by Grand Teton National Park with its iconic Grand Teton mountain range.
Yellowstone West Entrance: From Teton Valley, head north through Rexburg and then straight up to West Yellowstone, Montana, where the park’s west entrance is located. The little town there has plenty to see and do, including the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, and lots of options for guided tours.
Snowshoe or Cross-Country Ski in Yellowstone
For a peaceful and up-close experience in Yellowstone, you can’t beat cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. You can bring or rent your own snowshoes or skis and follow marked groomed trails, or you can hire local outfitters who offer guided tours for all levels of experience.
Yellowstone has miles of trails for the adventurous skier and snowshoer. The park service grooms lots of trails near Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village, Lamar Valley, Tower, and West Yellowstone.
Though track is set only on a few trails, all unplowed roads and trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Whether you are skiing a groomed trail in a developed area or venturing into the backcountry, remember that you are traveling in wilderness with all its dangers: unpredictable wildlife, changing weather conditions, hydrothermal areas, deep snow, open streams, and avalanches. Talk with park rangers before you leave on any trip and get specific information on conditions. Some park areas could be closed to skiing or snowshoeing to protect wildlife. Trail conditions and status are also available from the ski shops at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful. You can check this National Park Service website for more details and information.
Snowmobiling in Yellowstone
Yellowstone’s Park Service limits the number of snowmobilers in the park on any given day and you must have a special permit, which is why it’s best to go with an experienced outfitter. Teton Valley, Jackson, and West Yellowstone all have licensed companies that offer snowmobile trips into the park, and the experience is well worth your time.
Snowcoach Rides in Yellowstone
If you want to see snowy Yellowstone in comfort, riding a snowcoach is definitely the way to go. If you’ve never heard of this before, a snowcoach is like a large van or small bus that drives on tracks (like a snowmobile) or giant tires that are designed to drive over the deep snow and ice that covers the Yellowstone roads in winter. They’re fun to ride in, and their slow pace is great for wildlife watching. You can find a snowcoach operator in the different towns near Yellowstone entrances as well.
Where to Stay for Yellowstone in Winter
That’s easy – stay with us! After your adventures in Yellowstone, there’s nothing better than heading back to the perfect vacation rental home and relaxing with a hot cocoa while looking at the great photos from your day’s explorations. If you are planning a trip to Teton Valley, Idaho this Winter, we offer a wide range of rental homes in Driggs, Victor, and for anyone looking to visit the Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Grand Targhee area. Check out our website or give us a call, we’re here to help you create the winter Teton Valley vacation of your dreams.