Top 10 tips for a winter visit to Yellowstone! Restricted vehicle access and limited services make winter visits far different than a summer experience. So, plan ahead, recreate responsibly, and help ensure this iconic landscape may be enjoyed by future generations!
1. Enjoy the Drive
If you want to drive in the park this winter season, you’ll need to come to the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana—it’s the only road open to regular vehicles. From there, you can drive to places like Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, and Silver Gate/Cooke City.
Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice. Be sure to #PlanLikeAParkRanger by checking our road status map and current conditions page before you arrive, observing posted speed limits, and using plowed pullouts to watch wildlife, take pictures, and let other cars pass.
2. Make the most of your trip
If you want to see places like Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone this winter, you’ll need to book a guided snowcoach or snowmobile tour or apply for a permit through our non-commercial snowmobile program.
If you want to get away from the park roads, authorized businesses also offer guided skiing and snowshoeing trips, or you can explore our ski and snowshoe trails on your own!
3. Arrive with accommodation plans
In the park, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are open during winter. Be sure to make reservations as far in advance as possible. Lodging is also available in nearby communities.
Additionally, if you’re prepared for winter camping, Mammoth Campground has first-come, first-served sites available.
4. Watch out for winter conditions
In Yellowstone, winter temperatures range from 0°F to 20°F (-18°C to -7°C) throughout the day! Sub-zero temperatures are common, especially at night and at higher elevations. Be sure to check current weather conditions, pack proper clothing and equipment, and review winter safety tips before you arrive!
5. Give wildlife room, use a zoom
Just like during the summer, the safest way to view wildlife in winter is through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars. Park animals are wild and dangerous – bison, bears, and elk have injured and killed people.
Do not approach, encircle, follow, or feed any animal. Be sure to stay 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves and stay 25 yards (23 m) from all other animals.
6. Stash your trash
Bringing tasty, high-energy snacks to help keep your body groovin’ in Yellowstone’s cold winter temperatures is important! But, once the time comes to throw your trash and food scraps away, be sure to dispose of them in one of our many trash cans.
If a trash can happens to be full, find another. Animals that eat human food that wasn’t disposed of properly can become habituated and may need to be killed. Food scraps belong in the trash, not on the trail!
7. Follow the beaten path
In thermal areas, boardwalks take you to amazing places, protect the park, and keep you safe. Unfortunately, people have been severely burned and killed after leaving the boardwalk or reaching into hot water.
Geysers, mud pots, and hot springs are extremely delicate, so don’t throw anything into hydrothermal features, touch them, or change them in any way!
8. Bring bear spray
While it’s possible to see a bear during any month of the year, it’s more likely that you’ll come across other wildlife while skiing or snowshoeing.
Bison, elk, coyotes, and mountain lions are all active in winter, so carry bear spray and know how to use it. Be alert, make noise, and travel in groups while you enjoy the snow!
9. Expect limited services
Connectivity in the park is minimal, so download the free National Park Service app (and offline content) before you arrive for great information at your fingertips! Check operating hours for in-park facilities and services before you arrive.
Food and fuel options in the park during winter are limited, so always fill up on fuel and pack extra food and water in case something goes wrong!
10. Protect yourself and others
Mask requirements are based on the CDC’s identified COVID-19 community level. Be sure to view the current conditions on our website before you visit the park! Masks are still required for everyone on snowcoach and road-based tours.
Consistent with CDC guidance, visitors to Yellowstone, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors, in crowded outdoor spaces, and on snowcoach and road-based tours.