Yellowstone in winter, on cross-country skis: Gliding through a wilderness of ice and snow
Yellowstone’s wilderness is reclaimed when the throngs of summer tourists leave and the temperature drops below zero. Most of the park’s roads and services shut down, and the landscape is transformed into an otherworldly land of ice and snow.
Relatively few people venture into the park at this time, just 17,262 overnight visitors last winter compared to the nearly 1.2 million overnight stays between June and September 2010.
The wildlife reemerges with the people gone, and wolves, foxes, swans, geese, eagles, bison and elk are more frequently seen at this time of year.
It’s also a prime time for cross-country skiing. Yellowstone in winter has plenty of trails for novices like us and experts alike. No matter the skill level, a ski trip in Yellowstone leaves you with a sense of the park’s beauty that is completely different from the busy summer months.
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel near the northern entrance are the only accommodations inside the park during the winter season from mid-December until the first weekend of March. There’s usually plenty of space throughout the season, with Old Faithful normally running at about 70 percent of capacity and Mammoth about 60 percent full. The exception is Christmas, when the lodges are usually full.