Winter Vacations Near Yellowstone

Skier on Red Lodge Mountain Photo by Seth Royal Kroft

It won’t be long before the snow flies, which means it’s time for vacation planning and Montana’s Yellowstone Country is a winter playground! If you haven’t yet experienced Yellowstone National Park in its winter whites, you’re in for a treat. And, with some great towns nearby you can easily adventure in and around the Park.


Big Sky

It's a big year for Big Sky Resort, with the opening of the new tram. With this addition, all visitors can ride to the top of Lone Mountain to enjoy the fabulous views spanning three states and two national parks! Plus, the floors of the tram cars are glass, so whether you're a skier or not, you can get a feel for that incredible fall line! If you're not a downhill skier, it's not a problem. Big Sky also has dog sledding, an ice-skating rink, fantastic Nordic trails, and some great restaurants.


West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone is another sought-after winter destination at the West Entrance to the Park. With over 400 miles of trails and generally an abundance of snowfall, snowmobilers flock to this area. While some non-commercially guided snowmobile permits allow you to ride in the Park, a guided tour is the best way to get the most out of your experience. Trust me, Yellowstone is magical in the winter — affording visitors an almost surreal feeling and an awe-inspiring experience. Be sure to stop at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, and if you're bringing the family or your grandchildren, you may want to coordinate your trip with one of the Kids' N' Snow weekends, which engages kids in the joy of winter activities.


Photo by Andy Austin

Cooke City and Silver Gate

On the other side of Yellowstone, visiting Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, is an experience like no other. These two quintessential mountain towns lie on the other side of the Lamar Valley, and you get there through the only road in the Park open to vehicles in the winter. You'll likely want to do some wolf-watching while you're there; winter is the easiest time to view them, and most of the packs live in this area. This area is also known for its heavy snowpack that can last well into the spring. Snowmobilers, backcountry, snowboarders and Nordic skiers coexist in this mountain playground!


Livingston, Gardiner, and Paradise Valley

If you're looking for a more urban experience, Paradise Valley, including Gardiner and Livingston, is a great option. Here, you'll find two different hot springs, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone Hot Springs, some incredible lodging options, and shopping and dining that rivals metropolitan areas. Watch for live theater at The Shane Center and the Blue Slipper Theater, or hop over the pass to the Bridger Mountain Range, where you can downhill ski at Bridger Bowl or go Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, or fat bike riding at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center.


Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport announced its winter flight schedule recently, and if you're planning to fly, it's never been easier to get here. There are now 24 non-stop flights to major cities across the country!


Photo by Sam Rouda