The National Park Service has announced that Yellowstone National Park will open for the winter season beginning tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. Visitors will be able to gain access to the park via the North, South and West Entrances and travel is allowed on interior roads via commercially operated snowcoaches or on guided snowmobile excursions. Also opening for the season starting tomorrow will be the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, all centrally located near Yellowstone’s star attraction, the Old Faithful geyser. Other lodges and restaurants around the park, as well as its East Entrance, are expected to open next week.
Established in 1872, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains incredibly popular to this day. On an annual basis, the park attracts in excess of 3.3 million visitors, but only about 100,000 of them actually come during the winter. That means that travelers who venture into Yellowstone during the colder months will find a pristine and serene setting that is free from the crowds that are common during other times of the year.
I was fortunate enough to visit Yellowstone during the winter a few years back and found it to be an amazing travel experience. The place is so vast that you can spend the whole day cross country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing, and never run into another person. The wintery landscapes are simply breathtaking and when intermixed with all of the geothermal activity, the park truly takes on an otherworldly look at times. Additionally, much of the wildlife that Yellowstone is so famous for is at a lower elevation and easier to spot during the winter months. Bison, elk and even wolves are common sights, although the bears are all sleeping comfortably in their dens.
Yellowstone is one of my favorite parks any time of the year, but during the winter, it goes to a whole new level. If you’re looking for a great winter escape for 2013, then definitely consider visiting the park. I recommend staying at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or Old Faithful Snow Lodge to get the full experience.
If you do go, be sure to bundle up in your warmest clothes and pack your sense of adventure. You’ll need them both!
[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]