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Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park

The park offers the first non-commercially guided snowmobile access program

Snowmobile Be sure to watch out for the "locals" while snowmobiling Yellowstone! (NPS)

What You Will Find

As remarkable as Yellowstone National Park is during the rest of the year, the park in winter is a magical place. Steam and boiling water erupt from natural cauldrons in the park’s ice-covered surface, and snow-dusted bison exhale vaporous breaths as they lumber through drifts of white. Foxes and coyotes paw and pounce in search of prey in the deep snow, and gray wolves bay beneath the frozen moon.

Experience the park by snowmobile with your friends or family this winter. Yellowstone now provides the opportunity for snowmobile groups to enter the park with a non-commercial guide, which can be any member of the public who is at least 18 years old and who has been awarded a permit through the non-commercially guided snowmobile access program. Initial permits will be distributed via a lottery, which will run from September 3rd through October 3rd. Any remaining open trip dates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning in November.

Getting There

Permits are awarded to non-commercially guided snowmobile trips leaving from four of Yellowstone’s entrances: the West Entrance located near West Yellowstone, Montana; the North Entrance located near Gardiner, Montana; the East Entrance located 52 miles (83.68 km) west of Cody, Wyoming; and the South Entrance, located 55 miles (88.51 km) north of Jackson, Wyoming. Visit the park’s website for more information about travelling to Yellowstone, and pay close attention to winter road closures.

Stay Here

There are two lodges within the park that are open during the winter months; the Snow Lodge and Cabins near the Old Faithful Geyser and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins located about 5 miles (8.04 km) inside the North Entrance.

You may also reserve Forest Service cabins outside of the park boundary featured in our Gliding and Bunking in the Greater Yellowstone Area go list. These are cozy locations for ski-in or snowmobile-in adventures during the winter months.

Make Sure You

Enter the lottery for a permit or reserve a first-come, first-served permit. Familiarize yourself with weather conditions, rules and regulations and trip essentials. Additionally, Yellowstone requires Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles, so be sure that the snowmobiles you plan to use meet the park’s sound and emissions requirements. You may be able to rent BAT snowmobiles from local operators. Check this list of park-approved BAT snowmobiles.

To help with trip planning and to educate your group about Yellowstone in winter, all snowmobile operators will be required to complete an online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Course before they enter the park. The course will be available in November 2014 and focuses on safety and resource protection for a fun, safe trip to the park.

Try This

Plan your winter visit to Yellowstone. There are a variety of winter-time activities available in the park, including commercial snow coach and snowmobile tours, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and photography.

Communities around the park also offer many recreational, cultural, lodging and dining opportunities. For more information, visit the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce, Cody Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, or West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce websites.

Don’t Forget

Yellowstone winters can be harsh; temperatures are usually below freezing, sub-zero temperatures are common and winter storms can arise unexpectedly. You will be required to stay on the park’s groomed over-snow roads and to follow all traffic laws.

While the weather can be extreme, consider visiting Yellowstone in winter for a truly unique experience.