Yep, you read that right! A family winter vacation at Yellowstone National Park. Our winter family vacation. You might want to consider it for your family’s vacation too!
A snowy Yellowstone National Park can make for a fab family vacation destination that will have your kids talking for years to come. Why? Because winter in Yellowstone National Park = snow, snow, snow everywhere! Snow starts falling early in the park, and falls often. By the time the park opens for winter travelers in December, there’s already hundreds of inches of snow on the ground. Seriously! It’s a snow lover’s mecca.
Top Ten Reasons for a Winter Family Vacation in Yellowstone National Park
So why did our family choose a winter vacation in Yellowstone National Park? Here’s why! Sipping hot chocolate near the roaring fire in the main lobby wasn’t the only reason!
10. That snowcoach ride is just way cool!
What kid won’t be excited to ride one of these bombadiers? You can’t drive yourself to the lodges – this is about the only way to arrive. Though some more intrepid travelers do arrive by snowmobile. Not sure I’d take that option with kids. That’s a loooong ride on a snowmobile!
Your Yellowstone journey begins with a 2-4 hour ride atop the snow in one of these uber-cool vehicles on skis. Be prepared to be amazed by the vast beauty surrounding you.
9. Making snowballs and snow angels.
Isn’t that the first order of business when kids and snow are involved? And these snowballs are the best! What’s even more cool is throwing them into a fumerole and hearing the sizzle of melting snow. Don’t forget making snow angels. Or perhaps a whole family of snow angels!
8. Witness the beauty of Old Faithful eruptions into frozen air.
If you’ve seen Old Faithful blow off steam in the summer, just wait until you see it in the winter. Not to mention that there is no jockeying for the best viewing position. You’ll have the whole area practically to yourself, with perhaps 100 other hotel guests and snowmobilers. Oh, and the random bison herd hanging out to keep warm.
7. Cross country ski past sleeping bison and steaming fumeroles.
Whether you prefer groomed trails or breaking your own trails, no matter how you do it, cross country skiing in Yellowstone is fabulous! Ski past sleeping bison, around geysers, through peaceful snow-covered trees, or backcountry to several waterfalls. Just get out and do it.
There’s no need to be an expert skier here. There are trails for all levels of skiers, from beginners to the most advanced. Our boys hadn’t cross country skied prior to Yellowstone and we had more trails than we could possibly ski during our stay.
6. Snowshoe up a hill for spectacular views.
Or snowshoe through the quiet solitude of a snow-capped forest. Warm up near a steamy fumerole. Whether you have snowshoed since you were little, or never set foot in a snowshoe, you gotta snowshoe in Yellowstone. Nothing else compares. You might even witness Old Faithful erupting from new heights!
5. Enjoy old-fashioned family fun.
Borrow a sled from the lodge and hit a nearby snowbank. There’s so much snow here, you don’t have to go far to find a snowbank. Sledding around the lodge is a great way to end the day. It also makes for great family fun that almost always seems to lead to yet another snow ball battle. And more snow angels. And just plain old-fashioned fun.
4. No crowds anywhere!
From the moment you step foot into that snowcoach, be prepared to leave the crowds behind. There’s not even a crowd at Old Faithful when it’s scheduled to erupt. Unless you count the bison warming themselves nearby.
3. The wildlife. And where the only traffic jam is a herd of bison!
That’s right. You might just get caught in a local bison jam. Bison all around, so close it seems like you could reach out and touch one. But you don’t want to do that. Even on a cold, frosty day, they are still wild animals.
Then there was the lone wolf wandering on the other side of the river. Or the sighting of a pine marten weasel. You just don’t know what you might see. Except bears. You shouldn’t see bears – they should all be sleeping.
2. Listen to a winter soundscape.
Embark on a night excursion (Steam, Stars and Winter Soundscapes) into the deep snowy darkness with only stars and a flashlight to guide your way. And the tour guide, of course! Listen to steam hissing from fumeroles, hear the wind whistle through trees, and if you are fortunate enough, perhaps even the sounds of a nearby animal. Maybe even the howl of a wolf!
We didn’t hear any wolves but I did see one earlier in the day. My sighting was in dispute until my trusty camera produced evidence. See, there it is!
And the #1 reason for a family winter vacation in Yellowstone National Park:
Yellowstone in winter is just sheer magic!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Enough said.
If your family enjoys anything to do with snow, then you gotta check out winter in Yellowstone. The park is typically open to winter travelers from December to March. If you decide to book a Yellowstone Winter adventure, book early. Only two Yellowstone lodges are open for winter vacationers – Old Faithful Snow Lodge in the southern end of the park, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in the northern end – and the only way to get to them is via those special vehicles on skis. Or a snowmobile. That translates to not a lot of “space available” but that’s another reason to enjoy Yellowstone in the winter months!
Planning Your Own Winter In Yellowstone
Ready to plan your own magical winter adventure in Yellowstone National Park? Here’s a few links to help get you started.
Winter Activities at Yellowstone National Park – National Park Services
Winter Lodging in Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone National Park Lodges
Winter Things to Do in Yellowstone NP – Yellowstone National Park Lodges
Winter Packages for a Yellowstone Adventure – Yellowstone National Park Lodges
Do you enjoy a snowy winter vacation? What’s been your favorite snowy destination? Have you been to Yellowstone in the winter? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Just in case you were wondering – our boys were 7 and 12, and we stayed for 4 nights and 5 days at Old Faithful Snow Lodge. And we’d love to go back some day soon, to explore the Mammoth Hot Springs area.
First image from Yellowstone National Park Lodges. All other images by author.