Yellowstone: Winter Begins Dec. 15 - Summer Leaves its Mark

Yellowstone: Winter 2022-2023 Begins Dec. 15 – But Summer Still Leaves its Mark

Written by on December 9, 2022

Winter is here, and Yellowstone National Park is ready to open its gates – but the impact of the historic floods of Summer 2022 will reverberate for the entire season.

The winter season in Yellowstone National Park begins Thursday, Dec. 15. Conditions permitting, most park roads will open to oversnow travel by snowmobile and snowcoach.

Annually from mid-December until mid-March, visitors travel most of the park’s roads by commercially guided snowmobiles and snowcoaches and via the non-commercially guided snowmobile access program.

Courtesy National Park Service & Jacob Frank

Even seasoned winter visitors should check Yellowstone’s seasonal recommendations – things have changed since the 2021-220 season.

In addition to the usual changes and closures, the park is recovering from the devastating floods of Summer 2022. For instance, the Old Faithful Lodge is the only hotel in the park open for overnight accommodations this winter.

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel will remain closed for the entire winter. However, the hotel’s gift shop, coffee and beverage service, lobby, and ski shop will be open.

Furthermore, regularly scheduled tours and snowcoach services between Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and other iconic locations will be available.

Top Things to Know in Winter

Most Park Roads are Closed to Automobiles

The only exception is the road between the North and Northeast entrances, which is open to automobiles all year, conditions permitting. Check the road status map before you leave. Drive cautiously and watch out for snowplows. Do not stop, stand, or walk in the road. Use a pullout if you need to stop for any reason.

Want to See Old Faithful?

Park partners and concessioners offer a variety of guided trips throughout the park during the winter months. In addition, authorized businesses also provide guided tours for a variety of activities.

Services are Limited

Most facilities are closed during winter. Check winter operating hours for visitor centers, stores, restaurants, lodges, and warming huts. Fill up on fuel and pack extra food and water.

Camping and Lodging

Due to the historic flood event this summer, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge is the only winter lodging in the park. Make reservations as far in advance as possible. Accommodation is also available in nearby communities. There are currently no campgrounds open for the winter.

Prepare for Winter Conditions

Winter temperatures range from zero to 20°F (-20°C to -5°C) throughout the day. Sub-zero temperatures are common, especially at night and at higher elevations. Check current weather conditions, pack proper clothing and equipment, and review winter safety tips!

Do Not Approach or Feed Wildlife

The safest way to view wildlife is through a telephoto lens, a spotting scope, or a pair of binoculars. Stay 100 yards (91 m) from bears and wolves and 25 yards (23 m) from all other wildlife. Animals always have the right of way. Expect to encounter bison and other wildlife on park roads. Slow down or pull over until they pass or move off the road.

Stay on Boardwalks

People have been severely injured or killed by breaking through the thin ground in thermal basins or falling into hot springs. Snow-packed boardwalks can be slippery, especially near thermal areas. Wear traction aids over your shoes or boots.

Enhance Your Experience

Download the free National Park Service App (and offline content) before you arrive.

Connectivity is Limited

You will likely not receive calls or texts, even in the few areas you have cell reception.

Winter travel ends in mid-March when plowing crews begin to clear a winter’s worth of snow. Roads will start to reopen to automobiles in mid-April.

The East, West, and South Entrances in Cody, West Yellowstone, and Jackon (respectively) will open on Dec. 15.

Thankfully, the North and Northeast Entrances have returned to being open year-round after both roads were destroyed, reconstructed, and reopened this summer.


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