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Yellowstone Winter Snowshoe Adventure

February 22 - 26, 2021

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”

Andy Goldsworthy

NOTE: Private groups traveling within their own travel bubble can reserve this trip now. We suspect that we as a country will not be in control of the COVID-19 virus prior to our public tour of February 22 – 26, 2021; therefore we will require all participants to receive a negative PCR test in advance. This can be done in your area if tests are available or via a $119 mail-in option we can recommend. We will then ask all participants to be extra safe both at home while you are waiting for the test results and while traveling to Montana. This will allow our group to interact in our own travel bubble with relative confidence and enjoy the wonders of Yellowstone in the winter safely.

Don’t just “get through” winter – embrace it! While many people curse the winter and snow, here in Montana snow is a reason to celebrate. As we like to say of winter, “Bears do hibernation. We do recreation.” On our Yellowstone Winter Snowshoe Vacation, we snow-hike under the clear blue “Big Sky” on gorgeous trails through open valleys and narrow gorges, along frozen creeks, among groves of Aspens, next to herds of bison, and near the steamy fumaroles and geysers of Yellowstone National Park.

If you can hike, you can snowshoe!  We welcome all ability levels including those who have never tried it before. Snowshoeing is a blast and easy to learn. With these “all-terrain vehicles” strapped to our feet we can follow a trail or make a trail of our own anywhere there is snow.

We spend all four nights in the small town of Gardiner at the north entrance to Yellowstone, just steps away from the Roosevelt Arch that signifies the official entrance to the world’s first national park. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of this icon in 1903 and the top of the arch is inscribed “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.

Yellowstone is the ultimate tourist destination in the summer with millions of visitors, but in the winter it is home for only the hearty (like us!) and it is truly magical. The Park’s 2.2 million acres offer some of the best snowshoeing terrain you’ll find anywhere.

Snowshoeing in Yellowstone is truly an unforgettable vacation with steamy geothermal features, abundant wildlife, and miles of trails to explore. Don’t miss our posts on why Yellowstone is the best national park in the world and winter is the best time to visit the park!

Looking to book your own private group of 4 or more people? Check out our sister company, Travel Montana!

ZEPHYR ADVENTURES IS AN AUTHORIZED PERMITTEE OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Private Tour Info

Want to make this trip even more memorable? Grab your friends and pick a date. Private tours can be arranged for groups as small as four people.

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Details

Other Info: > $275 - $365 additional private Snowcoach Transportation for Day 3
> $100 optional snowshoe rental (or you can bring your own)
> This trip is limited to 8 participants

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Past Traveler Tour Rating

4.89/5 stars

Trip Highlights

  • Experience a national treasure – Yellowstone National Park – in a season where there are few other visitors
  • See wildlife such as bison, elk, wolves, fox, coyote, bald eagles and more
  • Take a private snowcoach into the park's interior and snowshoe along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
  • Soak in the Boiling River and experiencing other amazing thermal features of the park
  • Stay in the cute small town of Gardiner at the north entrance of Yellowstone

We reserve the right to alter our listed itinerary based on current snow conditions, to maximize your enjoyment!

 

DAY 1

Your guides will meet you this morning in Bozeman, Montana, where we begin and end your trip. After a transfer to nearby Paradise Valley, we will spend the better part of our day at the B-Bar Ranch, an organic working guest ranch located in the Tom Miner Basin. There are 20 kilometers of trails to explore by snowshoe, with loops of varying difficulty levels available to please -- and perhaps challenge -- every ability. After a short instructional snowshoeing clinic (probably the easiest sport in the world to learn!) we hike through meadows and under groves of aspens and alders, with views of the surrounding peaks of the Gallatin Range giving us a warm welcome to Yellowstone Country. 

When we’ve done as much mileage as we want, we shuttle another 30 minutes to our basecamp for the week: the Wonderland Lodge in Gardiner, Montana. We’ll take time to check in and unpack before grabbing our swimsuits and towels and heading into the park for a dip in the river. Wait. What? The Boiling River is an area of the Gardner River where an adjacent hot spring creates small waterfalls as it flows over travertine ledges and enters the cold river. It creates the perfect mix of temperatures to comfortably bathe in, all while soaking up the natural beauty of Yellowstone surrounding us.

Tonight your guides will host a happy hour and dinner in their lodge room in front of a roaring fire.

Snowshoe Mileage: 3.5 miles or 6 miles, with more mileage available

DAY 2

After breakfast in our lodge, we'll pack our trail lunches and head over to Mammoth Hot Springs (Yellowstone’s headquarters) in time to catch the 9:15 shuttle headed to Indian Creek Trailhead. Once there, we’ll strap on our snowshoes for our first foray inside the Park. We’ll start on a gentle trail through rolling timbered terrain along Indian Creek and then on the return follow an old wagon road along Obsidian Creek with glimpses of the surrounding peaks visible through the forest. The warming hut offers an ideal place to have lunch. Those wanting more mileage can do a second, different, loop with rolling terrain and outstanding views of the winter landscape before we catch the return shuttle to Mammoth to explore the groomed 1.5-mile loop around the upper terraces. 

The terraces are unique from other thermal areas of the park. As hot water rises through the limestone from below it interacts with hot gases and forms an acidic solution that dissolves the rock and ultimately deposits a white chalky material known as travertine, which forms beautiful terraces on the side of the hill that we can walk among. Because we are at a lower elevation, the snow depths here entice wintering elk and deer to stick around and you’ll probably see many of them at Mammoth.

We’ll have dinner at the lodge cafe before lights out - another exciting day awaits us tomorrow!

Snowshoe Mileage: 3.7 miles or 7 miles, with more mileage available

DAY 3

Today we head straight into the Park’s interior via the Grand Loop Road, closed to traffic for the winter!  We’ll have a private snowcoach transport* us for the day - a van fitted with either gigantic snow tires or special treads similar to a snowmobile instead of wheels so it can easily cross the snow-covered roads. Our first stop is Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas and home to Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world -- when it erupts it can go up to 400 feet in the air (more than twice the height of Old Faithful)! There are over two miles of boardwalks and trails here to experience the hundreds of densely packed geothermal features in one of the most extreme environments on earth: geysers, pungent odors, hot springs with all the colors of the rainbow, microscopic life, and hissing steam.

From there, our snowcoach trundles along -- likely experiencing a few “buffalo jams” (Yellowstone’s version of traffic jams) before arriving at our next destination: the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This 20-mile long canyon carved by the gorgeous Yellowstone River features a colorful stone interior (including the “yellow” stone for which the park was named) and a couple of waterfalls that will knock your socks off. We’ll get out and hike on our snowshoes along the rim overlooking the falls before returning to Mammoth the same way we came.  We’ll have dinner in the dining room of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel before returning to our Lodge for the evening. 

Snowshoe Mileage: up to 5 miles

*NOTE: Private vehicles are not able to travel to the interior of the Park in the winter. However it is very much worth the high price to rent a private snowcoach to take us in to see more geothermal features, wildlife and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Equally as important, we will have these areas almost all to ourselves! The cost for a private snowcoach will be split among your group members and added to the tour price. So, for instance, if your group size is 6, this cost is $365 per person and if your group size is 8, this cost is $275.

DAY 4

This morning a hearty breakfast is in order, as we’ll be out -- and active -- all day. We’ll tuck our lunches into our packs and head toward the park’s northeast entrance near Cooke City and the Lamar Valley. Wildlife in the valley is abundant in the winter. You may see bison, elk, deer, moose, coyotes, fox, bald eagles, wolves, and an occasional river otter along the way today. In fact, the Lamar Valley is now famous among wildlife observers as probably the best place in the world to view wild wolves, specifically in winter when they follow the ungulates (elk, deer, etc) down from higher terrain.

We have several planned snowshoe hikes today. Our first hike near Rose Creek takes us to one of the first wolf acclimation pens built for the controversial reintroduction of wolves in the park in 1995. Three wolves transported from Canada were housed in this historic pen until they would acclimatize and not run back north. The pen was opened after several days and the three wolves began their new life in Yellowstone. 

We’ll drive further into the Lamar Valley, ultimately snowshoeing on a trail that follows the old road bed that once used to supply the mining town of Cooke City, Montana.The terrain is mostly flat and traverses open meadows and mixed conifer forests below towering snow-covered peaks and spectacular mountain scenery. 

After a quick visit to the end of the road at Cooke City (we promise you’ll be amazed at the amount of snow in this town!), we’ll head for home. You’ll be happy to relax with a glass of wine or hot chocolate next to the fire tonight and regale one another with stories from the day.  After dinner, we’ll don our warm clothes and walk guided by starlight, moonlight (or headlamp) to the iconic Roosevelt Arch to toast the world’s first national park. Your well-used muscles will appreciate how comfy and warm your bed feels tonight!

Snowshoe Mileage: up to 9 miles

DAY 5

This may be our last morning, but there is still fun to be had!  We get up early to enjoy one last snowshoe walk together. Our hike takes us on an easy trail with Yellowstone Canyon views to the Tower Fall overlook. We’ll keep our eyes open for bison, bighorn sheep and bald eagles.  You’ll have time to shower and pack up before we check out and return to Bozeman, where you can choose to extend your vacation (we think a couple days of downhill skiing in Big Sky is a great idea!) or return home.

Snowshoe Mileage: up to 5 miles

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHTS 1 - 4 >> WONDERLAND LODGE / GARDINER, MONTANA  Wonderland is brand new, beautiful and small -- only 6 super cozy rooms -- and conveniently has a great restaurant on the main floor. It is in the heart of the tiny downtown of Gardiner, right next to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park. From our snowy haven, we can set out on a variety of adventures.

 

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Arrival & Departure

Your guides meet you in the cool mountain town of Bozeman, Montana the morning of the first day of the trip. If it’s possible for you to fly and arrive that morning before 9 AM, we will meet you at the airport. Otherwise, you can arrive any time the day before the trip begins. We’ll return to Bozeman’s airport the last afternoon of the trip, allowing you to fly out that afternoon. We can also leave you in downtown Bozeman so you can extend your stay, or visit nearby Big Sky Ski Resort. Bozeman (airport code BZN) is served by many major airlines: Alaska Air, Allegient, Delta, Frontier, and United.

What's Included
  • A local Zephyr guide will be joined by another Zephyr guide when group reaches 7 participants.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included, as well as trail lunches each day. Gratuity for these meals is also included.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included, as well as trail lunches each day. Gratuity for these meals is also included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day except for the cost of our private snowcoach into and out of Yellowstone National Park, but we will book this for you and add this cost to your invoice.
  • Trail passes and park entrance fees are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED: Snowshoe rental, snowcoach (see above), beverages, desserts, optional gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.
When To Travel

Gardiner is over 5,000 feet and Mammoth Hot Springs is over 6,000 feet in elevation, so winter in Yellowstone can be cold and snowy. The key for a snowshoeing vacation is to pick the time period when there is plenty of snow on the ground and yet temperatures are moderate. In the early winter, in December and January, daytime highs average only 27 degrees and the snowpack is not yet full. So we prefer late January through early March when there is usually more snow on the ground, temperatures are warmer, and we have more daylight hours. Keep in mind it is still cold and snowy in these months but that is what we expect with a winter tour! Note snow coaches stop running in early March.

Snow

Weather is always unpredictable and winter in Yellowstone is no exception! It is possible that there may be no snow, but don’t fret, we plan great alternate activities to take the place of the cross country skiing and snowshoeing if this happens to be the case.

Snow Coach

While in Yellowstone, we’ll be taking the snowcoach to get to the interior of the park one day. These fun and funky snow vehicles move rather slowly but are definitely a part of the experience that allow us to do and see things that wouldn’t be possible without them, as private vehicles are not allowed (or able) to travel into the park's interior in the winter.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

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