Planning a trip to Yellowstone? I recommend the winter!
There are so many reasons to choose winter over summer, but I’ll just give you a few.
First, the lack of crowds. Yellowstone might get 100,000 visitors a week in the summer, whereas they get that total for the whole winter.
Next, the wildlife. The wolves are roaming and highly visible in winter. In the summer they’re attending to their young and following elk to higher grounds. If you go in February, the wolves are in heat and you might catch courting and mating behavior. Even better, spring for the cash to stay at the Yellowstone Institute at the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley and take a wolf class. You’ll get educated and see wolves.
Elk, Bison, Bald Eagles, Coyotes, Foxes…so much wildlife and it’s mighty quiet with just one road open for cars (the North Road). All the other roads are groomed for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, and there are snow coaches to take you to groomed trails. Although you can travel by snowmobile with a guide, I don’t really recommend it. It might be fun, but you can do that outside the Park. Snowmobiling is about tunnel vision, noise and speed–all things that don’t go along with wildlife watching; all things that Yellowstone has to offer.
Thermal features in the winter are amazing. The deep greens or turquoises shimmer against the whiteness of the snow. Bison like to hang around the warm grounds.
Several years ago I took a GYC wolf watching tour at the Buffalo Ranch. We’d get up around 7am every morning, step outside our cabins, set up scopes and watch the Druid Pack of 17 wolves while we sipped our morning coffee. In the afternoons we hiked or skied. I stayed a few extra days to ski other parts of the park. It was some of the best money I ever spent.
Yellowstone in the winter is one of the best kept secrets.