Yellowstone in Winter: Still Wonderful!

  • Snow Coaches

    Who says national parks are only for fair weather? Travelers willing to brave the cold during winter in Yellowstone National Park will be rewarded with spectacular sights only visible during the cold winter season. To get around the park during winter conditions, winter snow coaches shuttle passengers to seasonal activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Wildlife at the Old Faithful Inn

    Winter can be one of the best times for wildlife sightings in Yellowstone, especially for guests staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn. Geothermal radiation from the nearby geysers create a warm spot for bison and elk to bed down during the frigid winter nights.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Bison Snow Beards

    Speaking of bison, these massive animals spend the winter months foraging for food in the snow, and they can often be seen sporting snow beards, as chunks of ice and snow stick to the hair of their snouts until the clumps become so heavy that they fall off.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Old Faithful Geyser Rain

    When the steaming hot water from a geyser shoots into the frigid winter air, water particles freeze, causing a shower of frozen ice pellets known as geyser rain.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Snowshoe Hare

    Snowshoe hares, one of Yellowstone National Park's many residents, have a very unusual winter characteristic: they turn snowy white come winter to help camouflage them from predators. You can sometimes spot them bounding through the snow in the park's coniferous forests.

    Photo courtesy of Mike Watson Images/Thinkstock

  • Photo Ops Abound

    All these winter sights are begging to be captured on camera, so if you're visiting Yellowstone this winter, join an Old Faithful Winter Photography Adventure. With the help of a snow coach, a guide takes guests on a safari to find the best scenic and wildlife shots. Read more about Yellowstone in winter.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Ghost Trees

    When temperatures at Yellowstone get really cold, geothermal mists form frost on the surface of tree branches, and when combined with snow, give the trees a ghostly appearance. Sometimes, the frost and snow on these ghost trees gets so heavy, it causes branches to snap.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Giant Ice Sheets

    During the winter season, Yellowstone is home to one of the largest ice sheets in the lower 48 states. When temperatures drop low enough, Yellowstone Lake freezes, creating 136 square miles of ice as thick as 2 feet in some areas. While the surface may be frozen, some hot spots at the bottom of the lake will continue boiling throughout the winter.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Sparkling Ice Fog

    Sometimes, when conditions are just right, tiny ice crystals fill the air, creating the illusion of fog. When the sun catches the facets of these little bits of ice, they glitter.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Snow Sculptures

    During winter in Yellowstone, Mother Nature becomes a master sculptor by blowing snows into stunning drifts and formations. Some of the patterns that result from the phenomenon look amazingly symmetrical.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Snow Mirrors

    When snow melts just slightly, then refreezes, it creates a smooth, reflective surface called a snow mirror. Sometimes, multiple snow mirrors cause entire hills and mountains to take on a reflective sheen.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Rivers that Never Freeze

    Some of Yellowstone's rivers, like the Madison River, come from geothermal sources and therefore never freeze, even when the rest of the national park is coated in snow and ice.

    Photo courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts

  • Monkey Flowers

    Flowers are most commonly associated with springtime, but in Yellowstone National Park, one flower has found a way to survive the cold winters. Tiny yellow wildflowers called Monkey Flowers grow along the banks of the park's hot springs, allowing them to thrive even in below-freezing temperatures.

    Photo courtesy of National Park Service