yellow stone in winter


Jan 15th, 2012, 08:52 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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yellow stone in winter

I would like to visit yellow stone next month.need inputs on
#1 where to stay
#2 will I need a car or can it be covered by foot
#3 primarily interested in viewing old faithful ,other must see spots?
TinaNY is offline  
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Jan 15th, 2012, 08:57 PM
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You can't drive in Yellowstone in the winter. To get to Old Faithful will require a trip via a snowcoach or snowmobile. You can drive one road/small part of the upper northern portion of the park/Mammoth, but that is it.

The park is far more difficult to visit during the winter. I have yet to do it in the winter, but hope to next year. I have been in the summer. Winter would be an amazing but different experience.

You need to do a lot of research on this and have it well planned out.
spirobulldog is offline  
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Jan 15th, 2012, 09:41 PM
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Thank you spiro,does this mean my only option is to take a guidedtour?
TinaNY is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2012, 04:34 AM
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Alki Tours, a local Seattle outfit, runs a "Yellowstone in Winter" tour every year, and we did it a couple of years ago. We stayed in West Yellowstone the night we arrived and were picked up by snowcoach the following morning. All transportation within the park is provided by park service contractors. Our lodging in the park was a stone's throw from Old Faithful.

If you visit many national parks you know that Aramark has the contract for lodging and meals. Trying to take advantage of the many snowcoach/snowmobile tours offered and still get back to the lodge in time to make a favorable supper reservation is (or was) impossible; folks who stayed at the lodge made their meal reservations and got the early slots, while those of us who were more adventurous found that by the time we got back to the lodge we couldn't get a meal reservation until 9 or 10 pm...and when we finally ate they overserved us. Lots of good food thrown away.

The park is fabulous in winter, and the guides are knowledgeable. My only gripe is with Aramark...and we run into the same things at their operations in the Northwest.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 04:44 AM
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Aramark does serve several National Parks.
It does NOT serve Yellowstone. Xanterra does and I am fairly certain they do more National Parks than Aramark does. There is yet another Company called Deleware North and they too serve a lot of parks.

Anyway, anyone can make reservations(you don't have to be staying there) and get seated a lot earlier. Planning is the key here. Xanterra, Aramark, and Delaware North all have pros and cons about them. Frankly, I think they all do a pretty decent job considering what they have to work with and where those place are located.

I would stay at Mammoth or Old Faithful Snow Lodge, which both are in the park over West Yellowstone. I would do the tours Xanterra offered and use their snowcoach to get there.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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In the early 80's my wife and I spent about 5 nights in Yellowstone in February. As Spiro mentioned we had to travel into the park by snow coach, leaving our car at the south entrance. We stayed at a cabin at the Old Faithful lodge, and it was AWESOME! Highly recommend staying at Old Faithful if it's still possible at this late date.

Besides wandering around the whole geyser basin on foot there were snow coach trips to other areas of the park such as Yellowstone Falls, truly fabulous in winter. We also hiked / skied to Fairy Falls and other unique spots seeing buffalo, elk and deer all along the day. You have some homework to do but this is a great trip if you can make it happen.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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Yellowstone in the winter is fabulous. You do need to start early with plans though, and I expect your options for next month will be limited.

There are only two lodges open in the winter: Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth. You'll need to call Xanterra for openings.

You could drive to Mammoth from the north. For the Snow lodge you'd need a xanterra tour snowcoach to get you there and there are not many.

From Mammoth you can drive yourself on the only open road in the park to the Lamar Valley. There are many who do this in order to see the wildlife that is abundant there. Go really early (before daybreak) for possible wolf sightings.

Anything else in the park you will need a guided tour. You could stay in West Yellowstone and get a day tour from one of the operators there. If you stay in Mammoth or Snow Lodge you need to book one with xanterra. They are not booked online as there are so many variables. You need to call them.

this is one option from West Yellowstone

The guided tours do increase the cost of a winter yellowstone visit. But it is such an amazing experience that if you can do it I sure recommend it.

Otherwise look at staying in Mammoth or Gardiner and see what you can of the north slope.

The highlights of our trip were the Lower Falls at Canyon and the early morning tour of Lamar Valley. So just seeing that would be a great visit. But try for a tour of Old Faithful or Canyon areas as well.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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We loved our winter Yellowstone trip! Here's our trip report and photos from 2006

We stayed 2 nights in Gardiner, 1 night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and back to Gardiner for 1 more night. Except for the snow coach to and from Old Faithful, we didn't take any guided tours. We drove ourselves along the northern road through Lamar Valley to Cooke City and back. There's great wildlife viewing along this road.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 08:16 AM
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We did this February 2009. It was fabulous. Have been to Yellowstone in 3 different seasons and Winter is our favorite so far (still need to do Spring).

We flew into Bozeman, rented a car and drove to Mammoth. Spent that night there, then took the snow coach down to Old Faithful Snow Lodge for 4 nights. Did snow mobile and other tours from there. Then back up to Mammoth for a couple of more nights.

Staying inside the Park is wonderful. If at Old Faithful, you can hike the geyser basin anytime and for as long as you like. We watched Old Faithful go off day and night. Xanterra also has various tours you can do.

At Mammoth, as others have mentioned, you can drive the upper road searching for wildlife. We also drove to the parking area near the road to Tower Falls then hiked/snowshoed up to the falls. We also hiked/walked the terraces, both day and night. Totally different experience in the winter. Could hear coyotes howling at night and the female and young elk were everywhere. There are also Xanterra tours you can do from there.

You may or may not be able to find in-Park lodging this late but then again you may, especially if you can be a bit flexible in your dates. My best advice is to call Xanterra and see what they can do. I've always found them to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

I hope you can pull this off. Yellowstone in the winter is like a totally different park. Absolutely beautiful and a magical place.

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Jan 17th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Tina, I went on the websites of both Mammoth and Old Faithful Snow Lodge and there seem to be a number of openings. Some days are completely full but you can probably work something out.
Good luck.

I'm going next month - staying at both places - and I can't wait!
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