Produced in Partnership with Destination Yellowstone
Spanning three states and having some of the most recognizable scenic landmarks in all of the United States, Yellowstone National Park is a must for every travel lover. Whether you are visiting in the winter or summer, you need to make the town of West Yellowstone your home while exploring the park.
A town where there are more snowmobiles or bikes than regular cars, West Yellowstone is an adventure lovers dream. From snowshoeing to snow coaches, cross country skiing to snowmobiles, every type of adventurer can have fun in West Yellowstone.
I arrived early on a Friday morning for three days of adventures and fun in Yellowstone National Park and suiting up in a head to toe snowmobile outfit was my first introduction to the area. Gallatin National Forest backs up to Yellowstone National Park and is apart of every snowmobile trip in the area. After an introduction to my snowmobile, we drove out off of the roads and quickly onto snowmobile trails.
The benefits of booking a private snowmobile tour rather than a big group tour is that you and your guide can craft the perfect route for what interests you. Since this was my first time to the area, I put my trust in my guide and simply stated I wanted to take photos and maybe see an animal or two. Without a second thought he knew exactly where we would go on our tour and we were off. While we did pass a few other snowmobilers on our trip out, there were many moments when we would snow the machines, walk over to a vista and there wasn’t a sound but the rushing river and occasional snow blowing off the treetops. My guide led me to Horse Butte Lookout, with an elevation of 7,077, it was a great vista to see over the entire valley. We chased bison and coyote foot prints in the snow but never actually saw any. Then on our last stop at a spring, we saw a single moose off in the distance. We stopped our snowmobiles and watched him drink and then see us. We all stood completely silent. While he wasn’t too interested in us, we were enamored with him. The 10-degree temps and light snowfall couldn’t keep me away. Finally my guide said we should keep moving, so we hopped back on our rides and continued on our way.
That night I grabbed a pint and a pizza from Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon before retiring back in my cabin. The fireplace was on high and a hot soak in the Jacuzzi tub helped bring my freezing cold body back to life. The next morning was going to be another early one, so after a hot chocolate, I slid under the down comforter and it wasn’t too long before I was dead asleep.
The next morning brought my first visit into Yellowstone National Park via a guide snow coach tour. The full day tour would take us into the park and around the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, stopping for photos at three waterfalls and a few geysers before returning home. I had only ever seen photos of this area during summer so I was excited to experience it all with a fresh coat of glittery white snow. If you have a bucket list and it includes Yellowstone National Park, this is the tour for you. Bison, wolves, elks, oh my! This tour really lets you see it all from the comfort of a heated coach tour.
I joined the guide and some of the other travelers for an early dinner and drinks at The Buffalo Bar back in West Yellowstone. We struck up conversations with a few nearby tables, all guides or travelers sharing stories of what they saw that day. The town is friendly and relaxed, everyone there for the same thing: see the magical and mesmerizing Yellowstone National Park.
My last day was a little slower paced, starting out early on snowshoes through the back country and then warming up in the heated rooms at the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center. The wildlife park is open every day of the year and your admission is good for two consecutive days, perfect for stopping by to see different bears at different times of the days. I was lucky and timed my visit with a feeding. Watching the massive grizzly tackle and devour his meal was something I was so happy to experience from behind the barrier and with the comfort of a fireplace.
Plan your own trip
West Yellowstone is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, a small town brought to life by the nature of the surrounding area. It’s the perfect spot to explore the wild open spaces of the American West.
Where to stay: Hibernation Station Cabins
What to do: Snowmobile with See Yellowstone Tours, Snowshoe and cross-country ski with Free Heel and Wheel (they make a mean cup of joe, too), Snow coach with Back Country Adventures. See grizzly bears and wolves up close at the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center.
Where to eat: Wild West Pizzeria, Madison Crossing Lounge, TheBuffalo Bar
Bison Bistro, Running Bear Pancake House.