Yellowstone National Park covers an area of nearly 9,000 square kilometres in size and is truly a natural gem full of breathtaking scenery. It is most popular with tourists during the summer, but it is definitely also worth visiting in winter. Even though only the northern part of the park is open to visitors during the winter months, the area that’s accessible is still quite large and impressive. My husband and I visited Yellowstone during a road trip in early December, and here are some reasons why I think it was worth it to brave the cold in this winter wonderland.
1. The Peace and Quiet
While Yellowstone is known for being overrun by crowds in the summer, you’ll feel like you have the park almost all to yourself in winter—or at least that was our experience. There was usually not a single other car or person in sight while driving through the park, and the snow-covered mountains and valleys were perfectly serene. We stayed in the town of Gardiner, Montana, which almost felt like a ghost town. Most places seemed to be closed for the winter and the restaurants and hotels that were open were never busy. It’s the perfect atmosphere for anyone who loves avoiding crowded touristy places.
2. The Wildlife Spotting
Wintertime doesn’t necessarily mean less wildlife. Even though the bears are hibernating, there are plenty of other animals to see. A drive through Lamar Valley offers what can only be called a “North American safari” experience. The herds of bison and elk are of course the easiest to spot, and you may be surprised by how close they get to the road. If you’re lucky, the white snowy backdrop also makes coyotes and wolves easier to spot.
3. The Geysers
The steam rising from Yellowstone’s geysers is particularly striking when surrounded by ice and snow. Only a limited number of these steamy hot springs is accessible in winter, but the ones you can visit are very impressive. Watching them with no one else in sight is truly an awe-inspiring experience.
If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend visiting Yellowstone in winter. It’s a unique experience that you won’t regret—especially if you don’t mind the cold.
As always, happy travels!