Although the town is small, West Yellowstone in the winter is BIG on fun things to do! From snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to ice fishing and snowshoeing, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors when the weather turns chilly.
And if you’re looking for a more low-key vacation, you can always just enjoy the peace and quiet of the winter months in West Yellowstone. In the winter, the town transforms into a quiet winter wonderland, perfect for rest and relaxation.
What to Do During the Winter in West Yellowstone
If you haven’t been to West Yellowstone in the winter yet, make plans to visit soon. Keep in mind that the peak season at West Yellowstone is between the middle of December and the end of March when the snow is spectacular and you can take a guided adventure into Yellowstone National Park.
Skiing in West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone is a great place from which to base your ski trip. The trails are located right at the edge of town, so you can easily access them and be gliding across the snow in minutes.
Start your journey at Boundary Trail or Yellowstone Riverside Trails, both of which are open to cross-country skiing and allow you to go into Yellowstone National Park.
So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skier, make sure to add West Yellowstone to your list of places to cross country ski this winter. You won’t be disappointed!
Snowmobiling in West Yellowstone
Snowmobiling is a great way to explore the park and see all the wildlife that calls it home.
Before you head out, there are a few things you need to know. First, you need to purchase a permit, which you can do at the Visitor Information Center. Second, download a Snowmobile Trail Map onto your smartphone to plan out which trails to ride.
With a permit in hand and a sense of awareness, you’re ready to hit the trails and enjoy the beauty of West Yellowstone.
The area boasts miles of trails, unspoiled scenery, and ample powder. It’s the perfect place to mount a snowmobile and explore the great outdoors.
Whether you’re a seasoned snowmobiler or a first-timer, West Yellowstone has something to offer. There are trails for all skill levels, and the friendly locals are always happy to offer advice and tips.
Ice Fishing in West Yellowstone
As the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop, anglers head to the lakes in search of big trout, that can be caught through the frozen ice.
With more than 200 lakes and ponds in the area, there are plenty of options for good ice fishing spots. Some of the most popular ice fishing spots include Hebgen Lake, Earthquake Lake, and various ponds in Yellowstone National Park.
Before you go ice fishing, make sure that you’re properly prepared. First, check the weather forecast and know how to check the ice. For safety, you want to have 4-6” of clear ice. Second, make sure you have the proper equipment. This includes proper warm clothing, a good ice auger, an ice fishing rod and reel, a bucket to sit on, and plenty of bait. You will also need a valid fishing license online at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks website.
Remember to dress warmly, as the temperatures can be quite cold in West Yellowstone. Extreme weather can hit unexpectedly, and the conditions can sometimes make for difficult driving. If you are looking for a guided ice fishing experience, hire a guide!
Winter Photography in West Yellowstone
With its snow-covered landscape, wildlife, and majestic scenery, West Yellowstone is a wonderland for winter photographers. And while the town is busy with tourists during the summer months, winter is a quieter time to explore and photograph the West Yellowstone area.
If you’re thinking of photographing in winter, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your trip. As always, dress for the cold weather, but also make sure that you have the proper gear to keep your camera protected from the elements, as well.
Please note that you can only enter Yellowstone National Park in the winter by guided snow coach or snowmobile tours from the West Gate.
With a little preparation, you’ll be able to capture some truly stunning winter photographs of West Yellowstone’s resplendent winter.
Cross-Country Skiing in West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone is a mecca for cross-country skiing, with over 40 kilometers of groomed trails to explore, and the surrounding landscape is absolutely beautiful.
Just remember that the town sits at a high elevation, so the air is thinner, and you may get tired more easily. Second, at certain times of the year, the trails can be quite crowded, so it’s important to be aware of other skiers around you.
There are a variety of trails to choose from, ranging from easy to strenuous. You can even go for a moonlight ski if you’re feeling adventurous. Just be sure to follow all the trail rules so that you can have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Ski touring in the wilderness of West Yellowstone is a great way to see wildlife, experience the solitude of the Montana backcountry, and get great exercise.
Also, keep in mind that winter grooming is partially dependent on volunteer efforts and the weather. More information is available on our page dedicated to ski trail reports.
West Yellowstone Winter Sleigh Rides
Nothing says winter like a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. And if you’re looking for a unique and romantic winter activity in West Yellowstone, there’s nothing better than a sleigh ride.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. First, make sure you dress warmly! It can get especially cold out on the open snowy plains, where the wind can really blow. Second, be sure to book a ride in advance, as they can fill up quickly during the winter season.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides are available in a few different locations near West Yellowstone. We recommend either 320 Ranch or Parade Rest Guest Ranch both offer winter sleigh rides. Parade Rest Guest Ranch is just outside of town, while 320 Ranch is in Big Sky, about 45 minutes away.
Wintertime is the perfect time to enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. There’s something about the crisp air and the sound of the horse’s hooves against the ground that makes the experience truly magical. And of course, what better way to enjoy the winter scenery than from the warmth and comfort of a cozy sleigh?
Snowshoeing in West Yellowstone
Snowshoeing is a great way to get outside and enjoy the winter scenery. It’s also a great workout! So come on out and enjoy the snow in West Yellowstone!
If you’re just getting started, we recommend renting a pair of shoes from a local outfitter, Freeheel & Wheel, who can also give you some brief instructions. They can also recommend where to go. The best snowshoeing trails in West Yellowstone are the Boundary Trail and the Yellowstone River Trail, which both take you into Yellowstone National Park – but always check the conditions first.
Enjoy the Winter Activities in West Yellowstone
There are lots of great activities in West Yellowstone in the winter! You can go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. You can also visit Yellowstone National Park by guided snow coach or snowmobile tour. Or just enjoy a hot beverage to warm up or visit one of the many shops in town.
For more ideas for winter activities in West Yellowstone, follow us on social media.