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How to Visit Yellowstone in Winter

(Cody, WY) We often think of Yellowstone National Park as "closed" for the winter. That's only partly true. Regular vehicle traffic is certainly closed from mid-to-late October through May and services within the park are very limited. However, there's still lots of activity in Yellowstone during the snowy months, with exceptions. Let us help you navigate what you can do in the park and how you go about it. *What To Do* The park in winter is a completely different experience than other times of the year. Wildlife behave differently, the snow covered valleys look like another world, and hiking takes place with snowshoes, which is one of the activities many enjoy who visit Yellowstone in the winter. There are also cross country skiing trails, snowmobile paths, and even Ranger-led interpretive programs, especially in the evenings. *Getting In: Your Own Regular Vehicle* The roads in to Yellowstone, and almost all the roads within the park itself, are all closed to regular vehicle traffic, except one: the North Entrance at Mammoth is open year round. Quite frankly, they don't clear most of the roads inside the park so they are covered in lots of snow and even your 4 wheel drive won't cut it. Oversnow or tracked vehicles are allowed (with exceptions) from mid-December through early March. Highway 212, East of Cooke City, is closed to regular vehicle traffic in winter as is the North East Entrance to the park there. The East Entrance through Shoshone National Forest is also closed to regular vehicle traffic. That means from the Basin, the only way to get into the park with your own vehicle is to take 310 North to I-90 West across southern Montana, then 89 south toward Gardiner, which is the last town in Montana before reaching the North Entrance of Yellowstone. This would be about a 4 hour drive from Cody, according to our calculations. Once you're in the park, the road from Mammoth to Cooke City is usually open, weather permitting. This covers the beautiful Lamar Valley, a stunning drive for sure. But remember, you can't come home to the Basin that way; the Northeast Entrance is closed as is Highway 212. You would need to drive back to Mammoth and trek back home through southern Montana. *Getting In: Oversnow or Tracked Vehicles* Snowmobiles and snowcoaches are examples of vehicles allowed through some other entrances of the park and within some parts of the park. In some cases, you'll need a permit and sometimes a guide. As of December 15, as long as conditions permit, entrances and some park roads are open to oversnow vehicles from the following locations: - Mammoth to Madison - Madison to Old Faithful - Madison to West Entrance - Old Faithful to West Thumb - South to Lake Butte Overlook - Canyon to Norris As of December 22, conditions permitting: - East Entrance Road (from East to Lake Butte) will open at 8am. (See this great map of road openings and closings within the park which is updated regularly; http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm) *Guides and Permits* Guided snowcoach tours, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing can all be booked through the National Park Service: http://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/things-to-do/winter-things-to-do/ The Non-Commerically Guided Snowmobile Access Program details are numerous. We encourage you to check out the following page and information if you want to take your own snowmobile (or rent one on your own) into the park: http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/management/ngsap.htm. In the Basin, the best information *Where To Stay* There are just two places to stay in Yellowstone National Park during the winter: - Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel: This one you can drive to and explore the nearby area on snowshoes, cross country skis, or take a snowcoach tour. - Old Faithful Lodge: If you want to drive your own car to Mammoth then once you're in the park, you'll need to book other transportation to get you down to Old Faithful. Your car will need to stay at Mammoth. You can visit Old Faithful and other popular gysers, see the bison as they forage through the snow, and enjoy the peacefulness that winter's quiet can provide. Permitted Snowmobile and Snowcoach Providers West Entrance Backcountry Adventures — (406) 646-9317 — Snowmobile, Snowcoach Buffalo Bus Touring Company — (406) 646-9564; (800) 426-7669 — Snowmobile, Snowcoach SeeYellowstone.com — (800) 221-1151; (406) 646-9310 — Snowcoach Targhee Snowmobile Tours — (208) 354-2233 Two Top Yellowstone Winter Tours — (406) 646-7802 Yellowstone Adventures — 406) 646-7735; (800) 231-5991 — Snowmobile Yellowstone Expeditions — (406) 646-9333 — Snowcoach South Entrance Old Faithful Snowmobile Tours — (307) 733-9767; (800) 253-7130 — Snowmobile Scenic Safaris — (307) 734-8898 — Snowmobile, Snowcoach Teton Science Schools, Inc. — (307) 733-2623; (888) 945-3567 — Snowcoach East Entrance Gary Fales Outfitting — (307) 587-3970 — S nowmobile North Entrance Xanterra Parks &Resorts — (866) 439-7375 — Snowcoach Yellowstone Year-Round Safaris