A Winter Paradise in West Yellowstone, Mont.
Snowmobiling, X-country skiing, snowcoaches, snowshoeing and more.
West Yellowstone, Mont., sits at the West Entrance to Yellowstone, the closest entrance to Old Faithful. Find out why this town is a great basecamp for winter fun in and out of the national park.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
You’ll feel as though you’ve discovered the ultimate skinny skis paradise when you hit the cross-country trails here. Groomed nightly for skate and classic skiing, the Rendezvous Ski Trails offer more than 30 kilometers of rolling terrain that ranges from easy to most difficult. The trails leave from the intersection of Geyser Street and Obsidian Avenue. You can’t miss the giant ranch-style trail sign. Snowshoers can hike alongside the groomed area. For a dog friendly trail, hit Boundary Ski and Snowshoe Trail, an out-and-back 7-mile stretch along Yellowstone’s boundary. Ski into the park on the Riverside Ski Trail that follows the Madison River and look for trumpeter swans, as well as bison and elk. For the ultimate skinny ski fest, attend the fabulous Yellowstone Ski Festival that has taken place during Thanksgiving week for more than 20 years. Clinics, an indoor expo, races and more await for the whole family.
There’s a reason why so many people flock to West Yellowstone, Mont., to snowmobile. With 400 miles of groomed trails accessible from town, you could spend a week snowmobiling in the national forest here and barely scratch the surface. Every night, crews head out to groom the trails, so those perfect corduroy lines etched in the snow are ready for you the following morning.
There are trails for everyone from beginners to experts, so stop in one of the snowmobile rental companies in town to find the trail that fits your ability. Otherwise, skip the guesswork and logistics and hire a West Yellowstone snowmobile guide. You’ll benefit from their insider knowledge of the terrain.
Interested in snowmobiling in Yellowstone? Unless you go on a guided tour, you’ll need a permit to get in. Apply for a permit in August through a park lottery system at www.recreation.gov or 877-444-6777. Otherwise, go with a guide.
See Grizzlies and a Movie
Guess what? You can see a grizzly bear in West Yellowstone in the winter, despite the fact that all of Yellowstone’s grizzlies are hibernating. Head to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a nonproft wildlife educational and research park at 201 S. Canyon St., in West Yellowstone. The seven resident bears arrived in West Yellowstone after becoming nuisance bears where they lived by damaging property in search of food or becoming aggressive toward people. Rather than be killed, the bears were brought to the center to serve as ambassadors for grizzlies in the wild. You can also see five wolves, all of whom were born in captivity and moved to the center after the facility in which they were born could not house them.
When you get back to town, head to the Yellowstone Giant Screen where you can see the movie Yellowstone or another feature film projected on a six-story high screen.
Ride a Snowcoach
The only way into Yellowstone National Park through the West Entrance in winter is by snowcoach, snowmobile, skis or snowshoes. No private vehicles are allowed in. Don’t miss the magical opportunity to explore the park via snowcoach.
Outfitted with super large tires that float on the unplowed roads, snowcoaches allow you to see Yellowstone’s wildlife and natural beauty up-close. The only traffic you’ll experience may be a bison jam or passing snowmobiles. Vehicles are comfortable, outfitted with large windows and seat between 8-12 passengers.
You can sign up for a variety of tours that can last up to seven hours. See Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or work with a guide to create a custom tour. Bring your own sack lunch, snacks and hydrating drinks to enjoy as you tour.
For a family winter sample back in West Yellowstone, check out the Kids ’N’ Snow weekend events.
Learn more by stopping in at the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, 30 Yellowstone Ave, or by visiting destinationyellowstone.com.