Snowshoeing, Wildlife Viewing and Snowmobiling: A Winter Adventure in Yellowstone National Park

Covering almost 3,500 square miles across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is home to dramatic canyons, rolling mountain tops, alpine rivers, and famous hot springs.

With one of the world’s largest calderas, Yellowstone boasts over 10,000 thermal features and over 300 geysers—a comforting sight after a day in the fresh winter air. But that’s not all. The gift that keeps on giving, Yellowstone boasts over 290 waterfalls, including Lower Falls, a breathtaking beauty that’s almost twice the size of Niagara Falls. Free from the summer crowds, winter is the ideal time to capture an Instagram-worthy shot of this landmark.

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone National Park

After a day in the snow, there’s no greater pleasure than kicking off your boots and enjoying the warmth of a cozy fire. Located in West Yellowstone, The Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone are a popular place to reset after a day in the winter wonderland. The 50 cabins, clustered into five camplike settings, are perfect for multigenerational travelers and those traveling with a dog. After a fantastic yet tiring day in the park, guests can nestle into a cozy evening with a complimentary S’mores kit to savor beside the community fire pit.

Between the comforts of home and the perks of a hotel, The Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone are the perfect accommodation for families, friends, and couples.

DAY 1 – NORDIC ADVENTURE

Set your trip off to a great start with an exhilarating snowshoeing or skiing adventure. Yellowstone has plenty of groomed trails to choose from and welcomes both skiers and snowshoers. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available at Freeheel and Wheel. You can also get your equipment delivered to your cabin for an additional fee.

Snowshoeing in Yellowstone National Park. Photo Courtesy of Debbie Galbraith.

Snowshoeing is family-friendly and suited to all experience levels, making it one of the best ways to see picture-perfect winter scenes and explore all the park has to offer. Choose to rent for an hour or two as you get to grips with the popular sport, or rent for an entire day to explore Yellowstone’s sublime winter landscape.

The more adventurous among us may opt for cross-country skiing—another fantastic way to explore the park. Just a stone’s throw away from your stay at The Explorer Cabins is Rendezvous Ski Trail: a winter wonderland with over 20 miles of groomed trails through pine and open meadows.

When the skis and snowshoes are off, it’s time to relax. Before heading back to your accommodations, we recommend visiting the West Yellowstone Giant Screen IMAX Theatre to watch Yellowstone’s (1994) vivid portrayal of the park’s history.

DAY 2 – WILDLIFE VIEWING

During the winter months, Yellowstone guests enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. Driven down from the ridges and mountains to forage in the winter snow, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife such as wolves, bison, mule deer, and coyotes. Always stay at least 25 yards away from all wildlife and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Begin day two with Yellowstone’s popular dog sledding experience. Captain your own team of huskies as you mush your way across frozen lakes and pristine wilderness areas. On the way, guides will show you some of the park’s lesser-known but equally gorgeous scenic vistas.

A dog sledding adventure with Klondike Dreams in West Yellowstone, Montana. Photo Courtesy of Diana Norgaard.

Pair your dog sledding trip with a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, where you’ll get up close and personal with Yellowstone’s most fantastic predators—gray wolves and grizzly bears. Opened in 1993, the center is an animal sanctuary that gives a greater understanding and appreciation of wild animals.

At the end of a long day, there’s no better treat than The Branch Restaurant and Bar, where guests can enjoy a hearty bison dish and other delicious dinner options before heading for a restful night’s sleep.

DAY 3 – GUIDED SNOWMOBILE OR SNOWCOACH TOURS

There’s just enough time left for one more snow-packed adventure before heading home. Saving the best until last, guests can choose between a guided snowmobile tour of the park’s very own Grand Canyon of Yellowstone or to the famous geyser, Old Faithful.

Encountering wild buffalo while snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Photo Courtesy of Carolina K. Smith, MD.

Since the park is only accessible by snowmobile or snowcoach, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Yellowstone’s magical winter landscape while feeling like you have the entire park to yourself.

Those new to snowmobiling, no need to worry–if you can steer a lawnmower, you’re set to pilot a snowmobile! Our certified guides will show you the way. For those without a driver’s license, snowcoach tours are a great alternative. Plus both tour options offer the same destinations to explore and highlight many of the same major attractions.

Old Faithful tour participants will visit the world’s most concentrated geothermal area and witness the famous eruption of “geyser rain” as icy crystals soar 100 feet into the sky and fall majestically to the ground. With stops at Madison Junction, Fountain Paint Pot, Biscuit Basin, and more, you’ll see some of the most famous sights in the park.

Old Faithful in Winter, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Photo Courtesy of Charles (Chuck) Peterson.

Those visiting Canyon Village will experience another beautiful sight: the beauty of Yellowstone’s 4,000-foot-wide, 1,200-feet-deep canyon, discovered by Charles Canyon in 1869. Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon is a must-see with pastel-colored canyon walls, cascading waterfalls, and billowing hot springs. On both snowmobile and snow coach tours, you’ll have the chance to see both Lower and Upper Falls along with Gibbon Falls, Beryl Spring, and abundant wildlife along the Madison River.

Custom guided tours are also available for visitors who simply can’t choose between the two destinations. These full-day tours are the perfect way to end your winter adventure in America’s first National Park.

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