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The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone

11.14.17

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The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone

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  • Wildlife viewing is abundant in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Elk in Yellowstone National Park. - The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • The sun setting over Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Many Yellowstone trails are great for skis or snowshoes.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Return view of Mammoth Hot Springs by Trailhead 1N4.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Boardwalk along the Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • The boardwalks around Mammoth Hot Springs are not maintained during the winter, but they may still be passable. - The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Snow-capped peaks of the Gallatin Range from Swan Flats.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Bison frequently travel the stretch of road from Madison Junction to West Yellowstone.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Castle Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • The Upper Geyser Basin is also great on snowshoes.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • Two young bison fighting.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • A young bison grazing.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
  • A bison searching for food along the riverbank.- The Wild Solitude of Winter in Yellowstone
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Pro Contributor

Of the 4 million visitors Yellowstone National Park gets in a typical year, just 3% of them come to Yellowstone in the five months of November through March. Fewer visitors come to the park during the entire month of March than a typical day in July! There are many good reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that it is darned hard to get into the park once most of the roads close in November. In fact only one road stays open all year, and that is the one from the Mammoth Hot Springs north entrance out to the northeast entrance through the Lamar Valley.

Visiting Yellowstone in winter is in many ways a throwback to the way visitors saw the park before automobiles, when people took some combination of trains, stagecoaches, wagons and horseback to venture into the vastness that is Yellowstone. Winter offers solitude and a range of beauty that might be missed by visitors who stick to milder seasons.

For the hardy, the only campground open all year is Mammoth Campground at the north entrance. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is also open all year. The Mammoth Hot Springs area makes a great place to base camp for winter exploration, and you can drive to it. The only other lodging open in the park is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and the only way to get to it is by snow coach or snowmobile from one of the four park entrances--from 32 to over 50 miles (Flagg Ranch at the south entrance is the closest access point).

Once at the park in winter, what is there to do?

Some of our favorite winter adventures in Yellowstone include:

Photo by Dylan Lara. 

For more ideas on how to explore Yellowstone in the winter, check out the extensive adventures and activities in the Featured Adventures below!

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