Best National Parks in Winter
Planning a Winter Vacation in Yellowstone National Park
Best National Parks in Winter. Yellowstone National Park is known around the world as a unique destination where geysers, lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife can be viewed in a setting unlike any other on Earth. While millions of people visit the park each year during the warm, sunny months of summer, the park also offers travelers a spectacular destination during the snowy winter season. Summer months are usually crowded and busy with automobiles everywhere. Sometimes, traffic jams even occur in the park during summer when wildlife ventures onto the roadway.
In Yellowstone Park, the winter season is a completely different experience from the busy, chaotic summers. The landscape is blanketed in a glistening layer of powdery snow, and the park is quiet with an ambiance of peace and tranquility. The winter months present Yellowstone in its pure and pristine form, and each visitor has his or her own experience with nature. In winter, there is simply no place on Earth quite like Yellowstone Park.
Imagine the sharp contrast created by the hot geyser steam in the cold wintry air as it rises high into the sky. Whether its Old Faithful Geyser or any of the countless other geothermal features in the park, visitors will enjoy the awe-inspiring views that result from the steam rising into the chilly mountain air. The landscapes created by this unique phenomenon can make you feel as though you are on a different planet. Read also: Cheap Winter Vacations in the US
Consider the photographic opportunities that can be found throughout the park during the winter months. Watch a bull bison breathing in the cold air as the fog of its breath floats away in a quiet and peaceful meadow. See a coyote pouncing on a snowy slope as it hunts for a mouse, shrew, or some other rodent traveling under the snow.
Imagine yourself in Lamar Valley as you watch a pack of wolves play and interact socially in the fresh snow. Think of the quiet and peaceful setting that you will enjoy as you cross-country ski or snowshoe through the pristine forest of lodgepole pines. These are the special experiences you can enjoy during a visit of Yellowstone National Park in the winter season.
Before you begin to plan a winter vacation in Yellowstone National Park, you need to know a few things. First, it’s important to know that only two lodges are open inside the park during the winter months. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins are the only lodging facilities inside the park that are open in winter. Other hotels and lodging facilities are also available outside of the park in West Yellowstone, Montana. If you wish to stay inside the park overnight, you will need to make lodging reservations at one of the two available lodges. Read: Best Snow Resorts in USA
You will also need to make arrangements for transportation inside the park because there are regulations that limit winter transportation in the park. If you prefer to ride a snowmobile into the park, you will need to make a reservation with an authorized snowmobile guide, because it is required by the park regulations in order to ride a snowmobile in the park. You may also choose to enter the park via a snowcoach. A snowcoach is basically a van on snow tracks and skis. They offer a comfortable and heated way to travel and sight-see in the park.
It’s also important to remember that with only two lodges available inside the park during the winter season, rooms can sell out in advance. Reservations should be made as early as possible in order to ensure the best availability of lodging options. If the lodges in the park are sold out for your desired dates, there is no need to despair. The park’s west entrance, located at West Yellowstone, offers a variety of nice lodging accommodations that include cabins as well as lodges. Read also: US National Park Travel
West Yellowstone is widely known as the “Snowmobile Capital of the World”, and it is the gateway to a mecca of backcountry snowmobile trails. Visitors who stay in West Yellowstone enjoy the benefit of a greater variety of dining options, nightlife with music and casinos, and major attractions such as the Grizzly Bear & Wolf Discovery Center.
Inside the park, snowmobiling is limited to the roadways. Park regulations strictly prohibit off-road snowmobiling, and violators face severe fines and penalties. Inside the park, visitors travel on the roads with snowmobiles or snowcoaches to see geysers, wildlife, and spectacular ice formations created around waterfalls and various bodies of water.
Snowmobiling inside the park is primarily a form of transportation. However, outside the park in West Yellowstone, backcountry snowmobiling is a major source of fun and adventure. With literally hundreds of miles of backcountry snowmobile trails starting from West Yellowstone, snowmobilers can create their own experience.
Imagine yourself cruising across an open meadow through three feet of fresh powder snow on your snowmobile. The powdery snow flies over your windshield as you move forward. In such conditions, it feels like you’re floating on a cloud. There really is nothing that compares to snowmobiling freely in the pristine backcountry.
You are in a vast ocean of mountains, forests, and meadows, and you are the captain of your own ship. You can choose any direction or path you wish so long as you are outside of the park. The area around West Yellowstone includes millions of acres of public national forest lands, and visitors can go wherever they wish to venture. Some choose to casually ride their rented snowmobile through meadows and on trails to experience the serenity of the wilderness and find a quiet place.
In some places, you can park your snowmobile and hear nothing other than the sound of birds and mother nature. Other visitors choose to challenge themselves by riding up and down mountain slopes. These visitors enjoy the challenge of “high-marking”, a sport where snowmobilers ride up the side of a mountain with fresh snow in an attempt to make tracks that are higher up the mountain than others.
In other words, snowmobilers compete to determine who can ride the highest up the slope. Some get their snowmobiles stuck in the deep snow, and they must dig themselves out. “High-marking” is a fun and sometimes humorous sport.
However, it can also be dangerous depending on the conditions. Everyone who plans to ride in the backcountry should carry an avalanche beacon, and they are provided when you rent a snowmobile in West Yellowstone. The rental clerks will be happy to give you advice about the best places to go when you rent your snowmobile, and trail maps are also available. Read also: Famous Tourist Places in North America
Each evening, visitors ride their snowmobiles back into West Yellowstone where they have a hearty dinner, take in some live music, try their luck at a game of poker, or just share some drinks and stories with friends by the fireplace. Most winter visitors stay for several days, and they design their trip to include a combination of tours inside the park as well as backcountry snowmobiling out of West Yellowstone.
A Yellowstone winter vacation is unlike anything you have ever experienced before, and it will leave you with special memories that you will hold dearly for the rest of your life. Just remember to plan your vacation as early as you can in order to have the best selection of lodging.
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