Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park
Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Snowmobiling
Yellowstone can be the coldest place in the continental United States in winter, with temperatures of -30°F not uncommon. Still, winter-sports enthusiasts flock here when the park opens for its winter season the last week of December. Until early March, the park's roads teem with over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles and snow coaches. Its trails bristle with cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to experience Yellowstone. It's also controversial: there's heated debate about the pollution and disruption to animal habitats. The number of riders per day is limited, and you must have a reservation, a guide, and a four-stroke engine (which is less polluting than the more common two-stroke variety). About a dozen companies have been authorized to lead snowmobile excursions into the park from the North, West, South, and East entrances. Prices vary, as do itineraries and inclusions—be sure to ask about insurance, guides, taxes, park entrance fees, clothing, helmets, and meals. Regulations are subject to change.
Lone Star Geyser Trail. Lone Star Geyser Trail is an easy 2.3-mi ski to the Lone Star Geyser, starting south of Kepler Cascades. You can ski back to the Old Faithful area. Trailhead 3½ mi west of Old Faithful Village, Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY.
Madison River Bridge. Five ski trails begin at the Madison River Bridge trailhead. The shortest is 4 mi and the longest is 14 mi. West Entrance Rd., 6 mi west of Madison, Madison, Yellowstone National Park, WY.
Outfitters and Expeditions
Jackson Hole Snowmobile Tours. Jackson Hole Snowmobile offers day, overnight and multi-day snowmobile trips into Yellowstone. Lodging is sometimes within the park, sometimes just outside. 945 W. Broadway, Jackson, WY, 83001. 307/733–6850 or 800/633–1733. wwww.jacksonholesnowmobile.com.
Free Heel and Wheel. Free Heel and Wheel, outside the West Yellowstone entrance gate, is a source for cross-country ski gear, sleds, snowshoes, and advice. Expect to pay $25 to $35 per day for ski rentals. Ski lessons are also available. 40 Yellowstone Ave., West Yellowstone, MT, 59758. 406/646–7744. www.freeheelandwheel.com.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts. At Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Xanterra Parks & Resorts rents skis, snowmobiles, and snowshoes. Ski rentals (including skis, poles, gloves, and gaiters) are $15 per half day, $24.50 per full day. Snowshoes rentals are $12 per half day, $20 per full day. Skier shuttles run from Mammoth Hotel to Indian Creek and from Old Faithful Snow Lodge to Fairy Falls and the Continental Divide Overlook. Mammoth Hot Springs, 1 Grand Loop Rd., Yellowstone National Park, WY. 307/344–7311, 866/439–7375, or 307/344–5276. www.xanterra.com/activities/skier-shuttles/.
Yellowstone Association Institute. The Yellowstone Association Institute offers everything from daylong wildlife-watching excursions to multiday skiing and snowshoeing treks. 115 3rd St. S, Gardiner, MT, 59030. 406/848–2400. www.yellowstoneassociation.org.
Yellowstone Tour & Travel. Yellowstone Tour & Travel rents snowmobiles and leads trips into the park from West Yellowstone. Longer packages may include lodging in West Yellowstone. Rentals start at $115 per day. 211 Yellowstone Ave., West Yellowstone, MT, 59758. 406/646–9310 or 800/221–1151. www.yellowstone-travel.com.
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