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WHY VISIT YELLOWSTONE IN THE WINTER

Why would anyone visit Yellowstone National Park in the winter? In a word, beauty. The dramatic contrast between blue skies, dark evergreens, and sparkling white snow-covered landscapes create scenes that you'll never forget. Of course, it doesn't hurt that you won't have to battle the typical Yellowstone crowds and that you can enjoy lots of activities you wouldn't have access to other times of the year. Below, we've listed some of the best reasons to make a trip to Yellowstone during the winter months. For more information, give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.


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ACCESSING YELLOWSTONE IN THE WINTER

Yellowstone's winter season is from mid-December until mid-March. The only winter entrance into Yellowstone is the North Entrance. Start in Gardiner, Montana, and head to the North Entrance. Inside Yellowstone, the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance is the only road open to wheeled-traffic during the winter season. (You can continue along this road to Cooke City. It's the only means of getting to Cooke City with wheeled vehicles in the winter.)

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LIMITED ACCESS MEANS NO CROWDS

During the winter months, Yellowstone has relatively few visitors. For instance, in the typical July, the park can have over four million visitors. In contrast, an entire winter season in Yellowstone has around 300,000 visitors. You have a much better chance of being able to do what you want, when you want, and of enjoying the solitude that the winter months can offer. In general, winter gives you a chance to experience Yellowstone in a completely different, and fascinating, way.

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CROSS-COUNTRY AND SNOWSHOEING

You'll have numerous Yellowstone trails to choose from when you go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter.

For example, the Upper Terrace Loop is just inside Yellowstone's North Entrance. It begins at the parking area just above Mammoth Hot Springs. It's a 1.5 mile loop that's easy or difficult, depending on the direction you choose. (Clockwise is easier.) Along the way, you'll enjoy fantastic views of Mammoth Hot Springs and the surrounding mountains.

Another popular trail is Tower Fall. This trail can be accessed from the North Entrance. Just follow the signs leading to Tower Junction. Start in the parking lot southeast of Tower Junction. This is an easy trail that provides a spectacular view of the 132-foot Tower Fall, which, of course, will be frozen solid. And, you're likely to encounter bighorn sheep, bison, elk, and deer during your trip.

Finally, you can try Blacktail Plateau, an 8-mile trail several miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs. This is a scenic, secluded trail that runs through spruce-fir forest and provides some great views of the surrounding landscape. Don't be surprised if you run into bison, elk, and deer along the way.


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WILDLIFE AND LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY OPPORTUNITIES

Photographing Yellowstone in the winter has a number of advantages. In the winter, the snowy background makes Yellowstone's wildlife much easier to spot and photograph. And, with fewer people around, wildlife is much more prevalent. You have an excellent chance of seeing deer, bison, elk, and bighorn sheep. With some luck, you might spot a coyote, wolf, or fox. Don't forget bald eagles and other bird species.

As for landscape photography, the combination of snow and ice can make for some unique scenes. For example, shadows on the snow create unusual patterns and give landscape photos depth. Because of the glare of sunlight on snow, you'll want to make sure you have a circular polarizer and know how to use it. In particular, pay close attention to the color of the sky in your photographs. It's easy to end up with very dark blue skies that simply look unnatural.


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