Where should I travel this winter? Yellowstone! That answer might surprise you, but I'm serious—Yellowstone is one of my favorite places to travel actively in the winter. Why? Read on to discover what makes the park one of the world's true winter wonderlands—and one of the best places to get out and get active over the holidays.
I know what you're thinking: Crazy! Who does that? Not many people think of Yellowstone as a place to visit in the winter, but it is and it's truly incredible. What isn't widely known is that the first national park ever declared in the United States closes down its roads in the winter, only allowing snow coaches and snowmobiles to travel through. Yellowstone is world-renowned for its colorful thermal features and, most famously, Old Faithful geyser. Millions of visitors pass through the park in the summertime; in the winter, only a small fraction visit this snowy oasis. What does this mean? This means you'll have the entire park to yourself! Well okay, you may not be completely by yourself, but on our Yellowstone & Tetons Snow Adventure Tour, you'll find yourself surrounded by the beauty and serenity of our natural world with very few people around.
I grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. Many people refer to my hometown as Jackson Hole. But let me tell you, if you want a hint from a local, call the town Jackson. I thought of Yellowstone and the Tetons as my backyard. I spent my summers frolicking through these national parks and never gave it a second thought. It was normal to drive less than an hour and be in a breathtaking location. With all that said, it took me a full 24 years to get to Yellowstone in the winter. Don't make that mistake!
Yellowstone in the winter takes on an entirely different atmosphere. You wander through the main attractions and it's quiet. You watch the breath of bison erupt from their snouts as they exhale in the freezing weather. The steam rises from the potholes as you listen to the gurgling of the geysers. Red foxes scamper along the roadside, their color popping against the white background. Sights reveal themselves that seem otherworldly. Each time I found myself touring the snowy roads of Yellowstone, I became lost in the beauty of the park. I spent last winter working in Yellowstone and, I kid you not, watched Old Faithful erupt with only a handful of other people. That moment will stick with me forever. As thousands of gallons of boiling water shot from a hole the size of my palm, I realized how powerful Mother Nature is.
Visiting Yellowstone when it's covered in a blanket of snow is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I was able to go into the park more times than I can count last winter. I'm lucky to get to work in a destination that's on many people's bucket list. Time after time I found myself with a smile on my face for hours on end—even when it was -20 °F! You may want to escape to the summery tropics as colder temperatures spread across the country. But from firsthand experience, I urge you to take a chance and travel to Yellowstone this winter. You will not be disappointed. If I haven't convinced you to come visit yet, I'll leave you with my favorite joke: What does the mother buffalo say to her son when she drops him off at school? The answer will be revealed when you take your steps into the park this winter! (Ok, ok. She says "Bi-son"!)
See our Yellowstone & Tetons Snow Adventure Tour here or discover many other incredible adventures all around the world with Backroads.