Skis, s’mores, and so much more at the Yellowstone Ski Festival

The west entrance to Yellowstone National Park may be closed for the season, but more than 3,500 visitors still flock to West Yellowstone, Montana, over the Thanksgiving holiday to take part in the annual Yellowstone Ski Festival. Nordic skiers of all ages and skill levels meet in West Yellowstone to ring in the ski season with a week full of races, clinics, presentations, and festivities. Over the festival’s more than 30-year history, the event has played host to thousands of ski enthusiasts and marked West Yellowstone as a Nordic ski destination.

The 2017 Yellowstone Ski Festival will take place from November 21 to November 25. The festival features an array of clinics and races for skiers of all levels in addition to demonstrations, presentations, and a product expo with all of the latest gear. The festival’s outdoor activities and events take place at the Rendezvous Ski Trails, West Yellowstone’s premier trail system that has served as a training ground for some of the world’s most elite Nordic skiers. The Holiday Inn, the official headquarters of the ski festival, hosts the Indoor Expo as well as a variety of classes, social activities, and events.


The Yellowstone Ski Festival is packed with activities for beginners and advanced skiers alike. Refine your skills during the day by signing up for one of the one- to five-day clinics with instruction from leading coaches in the field. Later, unwind in the evening at one of the ski festival’s presentations or social events

For an up-to-date schedule of activities an events, visit

Ski clinics

Whether you are an experienced skier or just want to learn the basics, the ski festival has a variety of skills clinics to meet your needs. Clinics are held over a period of one to five days and range from basic skills development to advanced technique. The three- to five-day clinics are recommended in order to allow participants the chance to work with different coaches, to increase the time spent on skis, and to give skiers the opportunity to reinforce new skills. All ski clinic participants receive a trail pass for clinic days. Festival attendees can take part in the following clinics during the 2017 ski festival:

  • Waxing Made Simple, TOKO Wax ClinicYellowstone Ski Festival West Yellowstone Montana
  • 5-Day Skate and Classic Technique for Performance
  • 5-day and 2-day “Tune Up” Clinics
  • 3-Day Skate & Classic Technique for Performance
  • 3-Day Skate & Classic Training Camp for Master Racers
  • The 2-Day Skate & Classic Tune Up
  • The 2-Day Junior Clinic Ages 10 – 14
  • 2-Day Improve your Skate Technique
  • 1-Day Improve Your Skate Technique
  • 1-Day Learn to Skate Ski
  • 1-Day Improve Your Classic Technique​
  • 1-Day Classic Touring
  • 1-Day USSA Level 100 Coaching Certification Technique Clinic

Waxing clinics also take place each evening—including the not-to-be-missed Whiskers, Whiskey, and Waxing featuring whiskey-tasting samples from Willie’s Distillery in Ennis, Montana.

Ski races

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate in one of the Yellowstone Ski Festival’s racing events! The festival offers competitions for all levels—even a “Try It” Biathlon Demo that includes instruction and gear for those new to the sport. The following races are scheduled for the 2017 festival:Yellowstone Ski Festival West Yellowstone Montana


  • “Try It” Biathlon Demo
  • Freestyle Sprint Race Skill Challenge
  • Biathlon Sprint Race
  • Novice Biathlon Race
  • 10K/5K Freestyle Race
  • Masters Race 5K Freestyle
  • Juniors Race 5K Freestyle

After hours

West Yellowstone may be a small town, but the ski festival boasts a full schedule of demonstrations, presentations, and social events to keep even the busiest skiers event-hopping from sunrise to well past sunset. Visitors can peruse the festival’s Indoor Expo, which showcases the newest in cutting-edge products from some of the top names in the industry. After checking out the latest equipment and technology, guests can relax and enjoy a movie night at the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival. Visitors can even get a close-up view of some of the area’s most majestic wildlife at the Holiday Inn, where the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center will be showcasing its Birds of Prey exhibit. Other can’t-miss festival activities include:

  • Salomon TV premiere – Check out the premier of the Salomon TV episode featuring Olympic athlete Jessica Diggins. Yellowstone Ski Festival West Yellowstone Montana
  • Keynote speaker Billy Demong – A five-time Olympian, Demong was the first American nordic skier to win a gold medal.
  • Fitness classes – Pilates, breathe and stretch, and bootcamp classes are all available for athletes in search of a physical activity to pair with a day of skiing.
  • Fashion Show – The country’s only nordic ski fashion show! Check out the latest in apparel from the Indoor Expo.
  • Social events – Meet and greet your fellow skiers at the Apres Ski, Apres Ski & S’Mores, and the Yellowstone Ski Festival Social.
  • Speaker Doug Smith – Yellowstone National Park’s leader of the Wolf Restoration Project, Smith is known for his engaging presentations.
  • Branch Beer Bash – Celebrate ski season with micro and craft beer tastings from some of the best breweries in the Treasure State.
  • West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation (WYSEF) Raffle – Unwind after a day on the trails and support West Yellowstone’s local youth ski team.
  • Yellowstone Ski Festival Awards Ceremony – Congratulate the festival’s award-winning athletes!

Whether you are a seasoned skier or new to the sport, the Yellowstone Ski Festival has everything you need to ring in the ski season with fellow enthusiasts. Make West Yellowstone your Nordic ski destination this November and hone your skills against the backdrop of a dazzling winter in Yellowstone Country.

AUTHOR: Caitlin Styrsky