Yellowstone National Park

America’s first national park was established in 1872 and is the obvious namesake of Montana’s Yellowstone Country. It is populated by a large variety of wildlife, including both grizzly and black bears, elk, bison, wolves, eagles and a number of other species, most of which—with the exception of bears—are out and about during the winter months. It also provides the backdrop for a large number of geologic and geothermal features, such as geysers, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls and canyons that are the iconic signatures of the park. Of the park’s winter entrances, only two—Gardiner and Cooke City—are open to vehicular traffic during the winter season. Both of these entrances are located within the state of Montana and, more specifically, within Montana’s Yellowstone Country. This northern section is world renowned for winter wolf and wildlife watching and photography. A third Yellowstone Country entrance, West Yellowstone, is open to over-the-snow transport traffic, but not vehicular traffic, from December 15th to March 15th, each year. During the winter months, activities such as cross-country skiing, daily guided snowmobile tours, snowshoeing and snowcoach tours allow visitors to experience and explore areas of the park that are not accessible via other methods or at other times of the year. The park, which many say is at its most serene splendor in the snow-capped winter season, is also less crowded from mid-December to mid-March, affording those who visit at this time of year an unparalleled perspective of this national treasure. Many of the villages and notable areas of the park—Canyon Village and the Mammoth and Old Faithful Areas—can be visited during the winter months, although most are accessible only via the over-the-snow methods named earlier. Lodging throughout the park is available during the winter season, from a yurt experience at Canyon Village to hotel rooms to majestic private suites, all of which boast spectacular views nestled in surreal surroundings. Yellowstone National Park truly shines during the winter season and is one of many reasons Montana’s Yellowstone Country is America’s Winter Playground.

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