One of our nation’s treasures, Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park in the United States and it’s widely considered the first in the world. Spanning nearly 3,500 square miles in Montana and Idaho, the park is mostly in Wyoming. Yellowstone features incredible wildlife, alpine rivers, dense mountainous forests, vast canyons, hot springs and gushing geysers. I recently spent a winter March day in the park and was amazed by the experience.
What was particularly enjoyable to me, is the feeling that you have the entire park to yourself. A typical winter day has less than 3% of the visitors compared to a summer day, and most are on the only open road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance, which is open to regular traffic all year. From the west entrance, skis, snowshoes, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles become the primary modes of transportation as roads close, rivers and lakes freeze, and snowstorms transform the park into a winter wonderland.
We went in by snowmobile. The machines are in tip, top condition with super quiet 4-stroke engines as required by the park. The hand grips for driver and passenger are heated and our recommended tour company provides all of the snow suits, helmets, gloves and incredibly warm Sorel boots. We suggest a full day private guided tour. That gives you the flexibility to go to Old Faithful, The Yellowstone River Canyon and Falls, or both.
We wanted to look for wildlife and had a great day photographing bison, coyote, a bull elk and lots of waterfowl seeking refuge on the rivers warmed by the hot springs. The highlight was a number of pairs of trumpeter swans, the heaviest living bird native to North America with wingspans approaching 10 feet. Wildlife biologists in conjunction with conservation organizations have brought the swan population back from less than 70 birds in 1933 to over 50,000 today.
If you are taking in the good life at the Ranch at Rock Creek during their winter season or are enjoying the uncrowded slopes of Big Sky, take a couple of days and head down to West Yellowstone. We will bring you into the park for an incredible winter experience.