Your Ultimate 2 Day Everglades National Park Itinerary

Rich with diverse wildlife and vegetation, Everglades National Park is a must-see destination for anyone fond of birding, hiking, paddling, or being surrounded by salty ocean air.

Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the dense mangrove forests of southern Florida to form this spectacular environment, which is home to 36 protected species.

This 1.5 million-acre subtropical wilderness is habitat to over 360 species of migratory and nesting birds!

In addition to the plethora of avian species, the area is also home to the Florida panther, manatee, American crocodile, and some species that can only be found in Everglades National Park.

Grab your camera, sunblock, bug spray, and sense of adventure because a lot is waiting to be explored in America’s third-largest and one of the best national parks!

Where to Stay in the Everglades

For the purpose of this Everglades itinerary, we’re going to suggest you stay in Homestead, as the park is really large and we’ve opted to cover the park as if you were based on the east side of the park, as many people visit the Everglades from Miami or as a side trip on their way driving to Key West, as opposed to coming from Western Florida.

COMFORT | For a cozy stay in a familiar chain hotel known for classic comfort, opt for the Hilton Garden Inn at Homestead. I’ve stayed at many Hilton Garden Inns over the years and I’m always impressed by the high-quality amenities and spacious rooms at a reasonable price.
Perks here include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a 24/7 front desk.
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

UPSCALE | For a slightly more luxe stay, opt for the Courtyard by Marriott Homestead, which has a gorgeous outdoor pool area with plenty of sun lounger seating, a beautiful indoor/outdoor lobby, and spacious rooms with all the standard creature comforts. Other amenities include a fitness center, on-site restaurant, and dry cleaning and laundry services.
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

BUDGET | For a comfortable yet affordable stay, check the Floridian Hotel. It’s not quite as highly rated as the two above properties, but at about half the price of the other two choices, it’s not at all hard on the budget. There’s still an outdoor pool (and a shuffleboard court), but rooms and amenities are more modest, particularly the fitness center is a big downgrade from the above two options. If you just want to have a place to lay your head at night, though, this will do the trick!
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

Day 1 of Your Everglades Itinerary

Welcome to Everglades National Park!

If you stayed outside the park in Miami or Homestead, plan for your drive time to the entrance station. Miami is about one hour from the park boundary, while Homestead is the gateway community.

If you’re flying into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, it’s a good idea to rent a car — it’ll be really tricky to navigate a self-guided Everglades itinerary without one.

Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental from Miami here.

It’s a good idea to stock up on food and drinks before entering Everglades, especially if you’re planning to camp. Services are quite limited within the park.

Start the day at the Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center

Road to the Visitor Center in Everglades National Park, a road passing through a forest with trees on either side.

The first stop for many visitors when entering the park near Homestead is the Ernest Coe Visitors Center. This is the perfect stop to use the restroom, purchase souvenirs, and pick up a park map.

With a variety of well-designed interpretive displays, the Ernest Coe Visitors Center is also a great place to educate yourself on the park’s history and natural resources.

Don’t forget to watch the park’s orientation film, so that you can learn how to be a good steward of the fragile environment in Everglades National Park.

Although open 365 days per year, check the center’s hours before arriving as they do fluctuate with seasonality.

Walk the scenic Anhinga Trail

A scenic wooden boardwalk winding through a marsh with lots of plant life on the surface of the water, the Anhinga trail is a must on any Everglades itinerary.

Now that you’re fully educated on all that Everglades National Park has to offer, it’s time to hit the trails!

The Anhinga Trail is a perfect place to start. At less than a mile round trip, this trail offers opportunities to spot alligators, turtles, fish, and anhingas.

This is a popular trail in the wintertime because of the excellent birding! A variety of migratory birds flock to this pristine sawgrass marsh beginning in November.

The trailhead is conveniently located at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, which is only a 4-mile drive from the Ernest Coe Visitors Center.

 Walk the Pahayokee Trail

Swamp with vibrant autumn foliage, tan marsh grass and still water, on the Pahayokee Trail.

Continue back onto Main Park Road and head deeper into the Everglades. Stop in the turnouts along the way to take in the landscape!

After about 10 miles, turn right onto Pahayokee Road and continue toward the trailhead parking.

Once you arrive at the trail, hike above the grassy marsh on the raised boardwalk.

The short 0.16-mile scenic trail takes hikers to an overlook platform offering views of the surrounding area. Bring your binoculars along to scout for birds from the overlook.

Check out the wildlife at Eco Pond

The still water of the swamp at Eco Pond mirroring the cloudy sky perfectly in the water.

After a nice scenic drive through the park, you have arrived in the Flamingo Area on the coast.

There are plenty of short walking and hiking trails in this area, but one of the most highly recommended is Eco Lake.

It’s not far past the Flamingo Visitor Center. Look for the trailhead parking on the right.

This leisurely half-mile loop will take you around Eco Pond with chances to spot plenty of wading birds and songbirds.

If you’re observant, you may be able to spot Florida soft shell turtles or American alligators.

Although rewarding in beauty, this trail is famous for its intimidating mosquito population. Bug spray and bug nets are highly recommended!

Try to spot a manatee at the Flamingo Marina and Visitor Center

A manatee taking a breath at the surface of turquoise blue water near the Flamingo Marina in Everglades National Park: an itinerary must!

A fun hike around Eco Pond should be celebrated with an ice cream bar from the Flamingo Marina Store and scouting for manatee around the docks — spotting manatees is one of the top things to do in Florida, so it’s an Everglades itinerary must!

It is common to see these magnificent animals peacefully floating around the marina in the wintertime!

Beginning in November, Florida manatees begin to seek a warm hideout for the colder months ahead. Manatees are unable to withstand exposure to water under 68F for long!

See the Everglades from another perspective

Nose of the red kayak against the background of a man rowing in a kayak and water lilies

The Flamingo Marina is a great basecamp for exploring the open ocean and mangrove canals.

Here, you can rent canoes or kayaks to explore the coastline in search of more manatees, otters, alligators, birds, and even dolphins!

You can also take a mangrove kayaking tour where you enjoy an easy paddle through the unique mangrove forests of the Everglades in a ‘sit-on-top’ style kayak — great for first-time kayakers.

Book a mangrove kayaking tour here!

Find a place to stay near the park

Tent sites placed along the beach in Everglades National Park in Flamingo Campground

As you wrap up your exciting first day in Everglades National Park, there are a few options for lodging accommodations.

Flamingo Campground is right on the beach near the marina, however, staying in Flamingo will leave you with some extra car time the next day.

Staying at Long Pine Key Campground, which is closer to the park entrance, or at a hotel in Florida City are the best options for splitting up the drive.

Wherever you choose to spend the night, plan to get some good rest for another fun (but full) day on your Everglades National Park itinerary!

Day 2 of your Everglades Itinerary

There’s a lot of fun waiting for you on the final day of your Everglades National Park 2 day itinerary, including embarking on one of the best Everglades airboat tours, walking on scenic boardwalks, and learning about the Indigenous history of the Everglades.

Breakfast is best sought in Florida City before hitting the road on Route 41 to another section of the park!

Take an airboat tour at Everglades Safari Park

A man standing on an airboat in a swamp with lots of water lilies floating on the water in Everglades national park

Have you ever been on an airboat? There’s no better place to take your first airboat tour than in the Florida Everglades!

On an Everglades airboat tour, guests coast through the River of Grass with an experienced and knowledgeable guide while searching for wildlife such as American alligators and migratory birds.

In addition to a scenic airboat ride, visitors get to experience alligator wildlife watching paired with an educational talk and the opportunity to explore the crocodilian exhibits along the park’s walking trail.

Book your Everglades airboat tour online here!

If you’re a serious wildlife enthusiast, you may prefer a longer boat ride with a focus on wildlife photography.

In this case, an airboat is not the best option as it can be noisy and unstable. If photography and wildlife spotting is the name of the game, opt for this large boat tour of the Everglades led by a Florida-certified Master Naturalist.

If you’re concerned about keeping social distance, don’t worry — the boat is limited in size to six guests, and there is plenty of room to spread out, set up your tripod, and photograph away to your heart’s content!

On the tour you’ll have the chance to see all sorts of birdlife — from spoonbills to ibises to herons to egrets to bald eagles — as well as marine life like manatees, turtles, and dolphins.

Book your wildlife photography tour in the Everglades here!

Visit the Miccosukee Indian Village

Traditional Miccosukee wooden totem shaped like a bird in a wetland scenery in Everglades, Florida

After spending the morning exploring Everglades Safari Park, it’s back on the road toward the Miccosukee Indian Village.

The Miccosukee Native Americans were part of the larger Seminole nation until 1962, when their independent tribe was given formal federal recognition.

The Village graciously welcomes Everglades National Park visitors to learn more about the Tribe’s traditional culture, history, and artisanship.

Explore the village gift shop for handmade crafts or attend one of the world-famous alligator “wrestling” demonstrations.

You might be getting a little hungry by now! Luckily, there is a casual place here called Our Little Eatery.

With a classic menu including burgers and fries, there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you haven’t tried alligator bites yet, now is your chance. Tastes just like chicken!

Head to Shark Valley Visitor Center for a tram or bike tour

The trail through Shark Valley with a large structure that is an observation tower which offers views over the national park

Now that you’re fully fueled up on gator bites, backtrack on the road less than half a mile to the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

The Shark Valley Visitor Center has informational videos, bike rentals, brochures, and souvenirs for purchase in the gift shop.

If time allows, hop on one of the Shark Valley Tram Tours. These fun guided tours take passengers on a scenic ride through the everglades unlike any other.

Halfway through the excursion, passengers can get off the tram to explore the Shark Valley Observation Tower. The tower has the highest observation platform in Everglades National Park.

If you want to get a good workout in, rent bikes at the Shark Valley Visitor Center to explore the 14-mile tram road loop on your own time. Remember, bikes must stay on the designated trail.

Stroll the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail

Boardwalk leading through a swampy landscape with lots of lilies and native swamp plants surrounding the boardwalk trail

Explore Shark Valley’s tropical hardwood forest on the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail. Appropriately named, the trail is made entirely of boardwalk!

Follow the trail as it meanders through the forest and sawgrass slough. This easy walk is a half-mile loop that begins behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

Keep your eyes peeled for fish, migratory and nesting birds, and even alligators!

Continue your sightseeing on the Otter Cave Hammock Trail

Woman in a white t-shirt, long light blue pants, and sneakers walking on the boardwalk of Hammock Trail in Everglades National Park

There’s even more to see in Shark Valley on foot! The Otter Cave Hammock Trail is about a mile round trip and wanders farther into the tropical hardwood forest.

This trail is perfect for anyone hoping to see more wildlife after walking the Bobcat Boardwalk.

This trail is easy to follow, but watch your step because it’s primarily composed of rough limestone! Along the way, you’ll cross over a small stream using the sturdy footbridge.

The trailhead for the Otter Cave Hammock Trail is located a half-mile behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

During the summer months, the trail can become flooded. Always check on trail conditions at the visitor center before setting out!

***

This is where we leave you to discover your next Florida adventure.

Continue along Tamiami Trail to explore the Gulf Coast and popular ocean cities like Naples and Fort Meyers or rent a canoe to venture deeper into the Everglade’s pristine wilderness.

Wherever you go from here,  you’re sure to bring wonderful stories about your visit to Everglades National Park!

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7 Great Things to Do in Big Sky, MT in Winter: A Local’s Guide

Snowy mountains, steamy rivers, breathtaking landscape, and a variety of memorable wintertime adventures are waiting for you in the charming mountain town of Big Sky, Montana.

Well-known as a popular ski destination during the winter, a fly fishing paradise in the summertime, and a gateway to Yellowstone National Park all year round, Big Sky, Montana is hiding some other exciting activities we think you’ll love!

Plus, it’s still a bit of a hidden gem in the US, as most travelers end up flocking to Yellowstone, Glacier, or Jackson instead, leaving Big Sky blissfully free of mass tourism.

From delicious meals served on a snowy mountain-side and shopping in the Town Center to riding the slopes at Big Sky Resort and snowshoeing in the forest, Big Sky in winter has something for everyone to enjoy.

Things to Do in Big Sky in Winter

Hike to a Frozen Waterfall

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One of the most popular waterfall hikes in Big Sky transforms into a dazzling frozen wall of ice once the cold weather moves in.

The Ousel Falls Trailhead is minutes from the Big Sky Town Center and offers ample parking spaces. From the parking area, follow the trail down toward the river. In the wintertime, the snow can become packed down and slick, so spikes are a great idea to keep you from slipping and sliding down the trail!

The trail is 1.6 miles round trip and offers scenic views of the South and West Forks of the Gallatin River. With only 400 ft of elevation gain, this trail is perfect for families and folks who are new to hiking! Before the waterfall, you will pass tall cliffs that often support gorgeous ice caves. Crossing the river to the caves is extremely dangerous, and staying on the maintained trail is encouraged!

Once you arrive at Ousel Falls, there is a picnic area and a couple of different viewpoints to observe the frozen falls from. It’s not uncommon to spot ice climbers making their way up the ice and guides leading new climbers on their first outing.

If you’re interested in getting on the ice with a professional guide, Montana Alpine Guides can take you out for a safe and exhilarating day of climbing!

Go Shopping in the Town Center

The shopping scene in Big Sky’s Town Center grows larger every year! Begin your tour of the downtown stores in the Town Center Plaza and make your way down Town Center Ave. toward Fire Pit Park. Along the way you’ll find:

Sky Boutique

Shop Sky Boutique’s exquisite hand-selected apparel, fine jewelry, and accessories! Need help putting a stylish outfit together for a night out in Big Sky? Look no further than Sky Boutique!

The Black Diamond Store

Head to Big Sky Resort in style! The Black Diamond Store has everything from professional ski gear to comfortable everyday apparel.

East Slope Outdoors

Remember your trip to Big Sky with a commemorative tee-shirt. East Slope Outdoors has a wide selection of graphic shirts everyone will love as well as ski apparel to keep you warm on the slopes.

Montana Supply

You can always find the latest mountain town apparel and accessories at Montana Supply! It’s also the perfect place to find a thoughtful gift for a loved one or a special something for yourself.

Rhinestone Cowgirl

From western style hats to cowgirl boots, Rhinestone Cowgirl is the perfect place to explore true Montana fashion. If you’re looking for western apparel for men, Antlers Clothing Co, in Fire Pit Park, is your next stop!

Snowshoe or Cross Country Ski on Big Sky’s Community Trails

The Big Sky Community Organization looks after Big Sky’s love of outdoor recreation and open space with trails and parks that all are welcome to enjoy!

Wintertime visitors can purchase a map of all of the town trails at the Big Sky and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Information Center or one of the many local retail stores.

A few trails you might enjoy on cross country skis or snowshoes are:

South Fork Loop

This easy 1-mile loop is groomed in the wintertime and is a perfect place for beginners to learn on snowshoes and cross country skis.

The trail weaves through the forest and hugs the South Fork of the Gallatin River for soothing sounds of rushing water.

Uplands and Hummocks Trails

Just past the South Fork Loop Trailhead, there is a small parking area for the Uplands and Hummocks Trails.

Due to some steep hills, both of these trails care challenging on cross country skis, but they are great for a moderately challenging snowshoe outing.

The Uplands Loop travels up above the Big Sky Town Center for picturesque views of Lone Peak and the Madison Range. The trail travels through the forest for about 2 miles before looping back to the parking area.

If you’re looking to add a little more mileage, continue onto the Hummocks Trail, which is 3 miles round trip with a couple of scenic viewpoints to stop at along the way.

Have a Marvelous Dinner Experience

A dinner experience in Big Sky reaches way beyond live music and dancing! During the winter, a few venues host intimate and fun events that are perfect for romantic evenings or special occasions.

Reservations are required for both excursions.

Montana Dinner Yurt

Meet your chariots, two big red snowcats named Rosie and Ginger. Climb aboard while choosing to ride on the open deck up top or inside the cab. Blankets are provided, but guests are encouraged to wear warm winter clothing!

Your snowcat will then bring you up the mountain at Big Sky Resort to a secluded yurt, where you will spend the evening. Greeted by live music and friendly staff, you will be seated family-style around the cozy dining room.

In addition to outstanding food and a soothing atmosphere, the Montana Dinner Yurt offers sledding and a bonfire. When your bellies are full, you’ll head back down the mountain on the snowcats with your new friends and memories to last a lifetime.

Sleigh Ride Dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch

By horse-drawn sleigh, dinner guests are transported to a rustic cabin, which is illuminated by an oil lantern. The magical ride takes you through the snowy forest under the big Montana night sky. At the dinner cabin, live music and a western atmosphere set the tone for your family-style prime rib feast.

With a rich history and as an icon of Big Sky for over 100 years, Lone Mountain Ranch is a destination within a destination. Locals and visitors alike enjoy coming to Lone Mountain Ranch to dine at Horn and Cantle, sip signature cocktails at The Saloon, and explore the beautifully groomed trails on cross country skis or snowshoes.

Explore Big Sky Resort

A winter trip to Big Sky isn’t complete without spending a day at Big Sky Resort. Boasting endless terrain for skiing and riding, Big Sky Resort is on every powder hound’s bucket list.

There are trails from beginner level to expert, with plenty of open space to learn and explore. Ski the trails from The Tram or the famous high-speed Ramcharger 8, which seats eight passengers comfortably with a protective face shield and luxurious heated seats!

For the non-skiers visiting Big Sky Resort, there are lots of activities to choose from! The adventurous type might enjoy a snowy zip line excursion, while the puzzle whizzes will love the resort’s challenging escape rooms. If you need a day to relax and unwind, book a soothing massage at Solace Spa.

After the last lift, skiers and non-skiers reunite for Après in the Mountain Village. Fuel up after a fun-filled day at one of the many dining options at Vista Hall, and then pop into Westward Social for a craft cocktail and live music!

If you’d prefer to head off-mountain for refreshments, Copper, inside the Wilson Hotel, has a phenomenal happy hour which runs from 4 pm – 6 pm daily!

Go ice skating in town

When the sun goes down, the lights come on over the Big Sky Town Center’s Skating Rink. Locals and visitors lace up their skates and glide around the glistening ice.

A romantic activity paired well with a hot to-go drink or a fun night out with the family, the skating rink welcomes all to join during open skate hours!

Traveling without ice skates? That’s not a problem!

Ice skates are available for rent at East Slope Outdoors for a small fee.

Go for a snowmobile in Gallatin National Forest

While you’re visiting Big Sky country in the wintertime, you have to get out and ride the powder on a snowmobile. Big Sky is nestled right inside Gallatin National Forest, which offers an exciting variety of terrain to explore on sleds!

Guided tours aren’t just for first-timers! Booking a snowmobile trip with a professional guide not only keeps you safe on the rugged mountain terrain, but it also allows you to experience the absolute best trails – that are often lesser-known.

Canyon Adventures, an outfitter in Big Sky, is famous for its witty and knowledgeable guides. If you’d like to schedule a trip or rent snowmobiles, do so well in advance of your visit to assure availability. 

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17 Cool Things to Do in Jackson Hole in Winter

When the snow begins to fall in Jackson Hole, folks from all over the world arrive in town to experience the area’s world-class powder skiing.

Although a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, as well as a popular home base for people visiting Grand Teton or Yellowstone in winter, Jackson, WY has fun in store for everyone – even non-skiers!

From sightseeing and exploring Western U.S. heritage to riding the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and snowy sleigh rides, Jackson Hole is an inclusive wintertime retreat that all can appreciate.

Perfect for adventurers, couples, families, and friends, Jackson, WY is a must-visit winter destination with a seemingly endless list of activities to offer!

If you’re planning on visiting Jackson Hole in winter, here’s a variety of fun things to do — but first, let’s quickly go over a few essential things to know before visiting Jackson Hole in winter!

When is the best time to visit Jackson Hole in winter?

Ideally, in January or February, after the Christmas rush but before all the schools have their spring break and snowbirds descend on Jackson Hole for some spring break skiing.

However, I know that for many Americans with limited vacation time, time is just as important as money when it comes time to planning your trip.

Parents who have to plan their travels around the school calendar will have little choice but to opt for a trip over the winter break or possibly spring break if it’s early enough.

If you’re from the East Coast and have a mid-winter break and a spring break (something which absolutely blew my mind when I taught in NYC, as we only have spring break in California!) going during your mid-winter break would be perfect.

It won’t be nearly as crowded, as Jackson Hole is more popular with West Coasters than East Coasters, and West Coasters tend not to have time off during February the way East Coasters do.

A frozen over lake in Jackson Wyoming in winter

Is Grand Teton open in the winter? What about Yellowstone?

Grand Teton absolutely is open in the winter; however, several roads are closed to vehicle traffic and become maintained snow lanes for all kinds of winter sports, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! It’s a ton of fun, and you absolutely should plan for some time in Grand Teton in the winter.

Yellowstone, on the other hand, is harder to access in winter. While on a map, you may assume that Yellowstone is super close and therefore easy to access, note that a lot of the roads through Yellowstone are closed in the winter.

There’s a way around this, of course: you can take a snowmobile tour into Yellowstone to see attractions such as Old Faithful and other geothermal features, but it’s pretty much an all-day affair and needs be done by guided snowmobile tour or by booking a snowcoach transfer, which is very time-consuming.

Personally, I’d only try to visit Yellowstone on your Jackson Hole trip if you have 3 days or more OR are not planning to ski or snowboard. Otherwise, it’s a lot of time to dedicate to a day trip.

A famous barn in Grand Teton in the winter with snow covered mountains with alpenglow (sunlight on the mountain peaks) in background

Can you ski in Jackson in December?


It’s impossible to predict this with any certainty, as it totally depends on the year’s snowfall thus far. Jackson has steeper slopes and therefore requires more snowfall than less steep ski resorts.

However, statistically, Jackson has a 82% open rate by Christmas Day. Those aren’t odds that I would want to hinge an entire ski vacation on, so be sure to either plan enough activities to keep yourself busy in case ski season hasn’t begun yet or plan for a later ski vacation, such as in February or March, when there definitely should be enough snow!

A close up view of peaks in the mountains of Jackson Wyoming in winter with snow

Is Jackson Hole expensive?


Jackson Hole has earned a reputation for being expensive, and unfortunately I have to concur!

Skiing is expensive. A full-day lift ticket costs around $160 at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and around $60 at the smaller Snow King Resort. You can get deals for weeklong passes, but that’s an expensive baseline to start at.

Accommodation in Jackson in winter is also expensive simply because of supply and demand. I suggest opting for an Airbnb if budget is a concern — and I have several I’ll recommend at the end of this post!

Is there a difference between Jackson and Jackson Hole?

Yes! Jackson is the name of one of the main towns in the area, whereas Jackson Hole refers to the valley encompassing several towns in the Jackson area, including Teton Village (the main ski resort area) and other small towns like Moose, Wilson, and Moran Junction.

Best Things to Do in Jackson Hole in Winter

Snowmobile in paradise!

Jackson Hole receives multiple feet of snow every winter, making it a popular destination for snowmobiling! The area boasts a wide variation in terrain along with hundreds of trail miles to explore.

If you’ve never been snowmobiling in Jackson Hole before or are completely new to the sport, scheduling a trip with a local guide is highly encouraged and easy to do!

There are many outfitters to choose from, and with an area expert in the lead, you can be sure you’re traveling through the scenic landscape safely.

Not sure which snowmobiling tour to go with? I suggest this well-reviewed outfitter, which runs full-day tours of their ranch and other beautiful backcountry areas you’d absolutely never get a chance to see in winter on foot.

Book your snowmobiling tour here!

The view from behind a man riding a snowmobile wearing a black helmet and gloves with one snowmobiler ahead of him.

Backcountry snowmobile to Granite Hot Springs

For a snowmobile adventure unlike any other, book a guided trip to Granite Hot Springs in the Gros Ventre Mountain Range.

Your guide service will provide transportation to the trailhead, which is 24 miles south of Jackson, WY.

From the trailhead, riders will follow their professional guide deep into the Bridger-Teton National Forest through a wintery wonderland before reaching the steamy hot springs.

This wilderness hot tub usually measures 105 °F but can reach up to 112 °F! The excursion to Granite Hot Springs is about 20-miles of riding round trip and takes a half-day.

Guests are expected to bring their own towels and bathing suits to soak in the springs.

A view of the famous Granite Hot Springs near Jackson in Wyoming covered in snow with pine trees everywhere.

Do a full-day adventure into Yellowstone National Park

If you’re seeking a full-day snowmobiling adventure, consider taking a guided trip into Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful erupt!

Beginning early in the morning, your guide service (I suggest Brushbuck Tours) will shuttle you to the trailhead where you will begin your 90-mile snowmobile journey through Yellowstone’s pristine landscape.

While riding past the mountain vistas, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. This national park adventure offers the opportunity to see bison, elk, deer, moose, and even wolves!

The Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park spewing steam high into the air on a winter day

Take a magical sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge

Get ready to dash through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh! You’ll want to bundle up for this sleigh ride adventure.

The 1-hour ride takes visitors into the National Elk Refuge, just outside of Grand Teton National Park, for a wildlife tour you’ll never forget.

In the company of a professional guide and experienced naturalist, you will be taken across the refuge to get a closer look at the elk that winter there.

I recommend booking with this trusted tour company who is taking lots of safety precautions, including mandating face masks for participants and guides, regular temperature checks for guides, and sanitization of all surfaces in between uses.

In addition to that, it’s a top-rated attraction with a 5-star rating and tons of verified positive reviews, and it includes transfers to and from Jackson.

Book your National Elk Refuge sleigh tour here!

A view on a horse sleigh ride through the elk refuge near Grand Teton National Park with two beautiful reddish-brown horses

This astonishing refuge is home to the largest migratory elk herd in North America and is frequented by a variety of other wildlife!

As you ask your guide questions and check out the residents, you’ll also have picturesque views of the Tetons in the background.

The sleigh rides operate between mid-December and early-April. Advanced reservations are highly encouraged – especially during the holiday season! This ride is great for families, couples, and friends visiting Jackson Hole in the wintertime.

A close up of the faces of two horses ready to give a sleigh ride in the Elk Refuge for Jackson winter travelers

Go shopping in Downtown Jackson

Shop ’til you drop in Jackson’s Town Square!

Begin your tour of the downtown stores at the Antler Arch, which also makes an excellent photo backdrop! From here, you can easily walk to any of these fun downtown stores:

Jackson Hole Resort Store: This is the perfect store for branded souvenirs and endless browsing!

Teton Toys: Find fun holiday gifts for the little ones in your life or a classic board game to bring back to your Airbnb.

A view of downtown Jackson with shop lights after sunset

Lee’s Tees: Rep your winter trip to Jackson, WY with a shirt designed by a local artist. Lee’s Tees has a wide selection of graphic shirts everyone will love.

Jackson Hole Jewelry Co.: Fall in love with handcrafted jewelry for yourself or as a gift for a special someone.

Stio: Here, you can find stylish clothing for recreation or everyday wear. Stio has timeless items that are rugged enough to stand up to the challenges of outdoor adventure!

Go dog sledding with a team of enthuastic pups!

I’ve gone dog-sledding several times, in Norway and Sweden, but I’ve still yet to go in Jackson — however, it is on my list!

Dog sledding is an extremely fun activity for both the humans and the dogs involved. The huskies are quite literally born to run, and every single time I’ve gone dog-sledding (three times) I’ve been impressed by the dog’s enthusiasm, energy, and absolute adoration for what they do.

This dog-sledding tour is a self-driving tour which, in my opinion, is the only fun way to do it! This is when you help out your team of pups by helping them steer the sled, control the brakes, and assist on running up any uphill portions so that the dogs aren’t the only ones doing the work. It’s actually quite a workout and it’s a ton of fun!

The dogs are well-loved and taken care of by the ranch, and the musher, Mike, has been dog-sledding and racing for over 30 years!

It’s also a great tour for recreating outside safely and maintaining physical distance, since it’s only one person per sled. Spots are limited and I expect this to be a popular tour this year so I encourage you to book ahead.

Book your dog-sledding tour today!

Snap a photo at the lit-up Antler Arch

The Antler Arch is a popular photo spot in Jackson Hole no matter what the time of year.

There’s no denying it gets even more festive in winter, when blue-tinted fairy lights adorn the snow-dusted antlers and make for the ultimate Jackson Hole Instagram stop.

The famous "antler arch" in Jackson in winter styling with lots of blueish Christmas lights on it, making it shine a pale blue color

Explore Jackson’s art displays, museums, and galleries

Interested in exploring Jackson’s diverse art scene?

There are over 10 galleries within walking distance of Jackson Town Square, and even more spread throughout the town.

Among all of these galleries, Jackson is also home to the well-known National Museum of Wildlife Art.

With over 5,000 pieces of art representing wildlife from around the world, there’s so much to discover at the National Museum of Wildlife Art!

In addition to a world-renowned art collection, including work from artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, John James Audubon, and Henri Rousseau, the National Museum of Wildlife Art offers guided tours with professional docents.

It also has a breathtaking location overlooking the National Elk Refuge, a museum store, dining on location at the Palate Restaurant, and a 3/4-mile trail to view beautiful bronze sculptures.

Also, be on the lookout for Jackson’s many public art displays, including the 4,000-pound sculpture of a bronco rider that welcomes all arriving in the Cowboy State from the Jackson Hole Airport!

A huge herd of elk eating grass peaking out from the snow in the elk refuge near Grand Teton National Park

Go sledding or tubing at Snow King

Who said sledding was just for kids?

In Jackson Hole, anyone with a need for speed is encouraged to try out the tubing at Snow King Resort!

Located right in the town of Jackson, Snow King has a specially designed lift with groomed lanes just for tubing! You can buy a Big King pass which allows you to do all the activity

A view of someone's feet as a woman pulls their tube forward in Jackson Hole in winter

Do a winter safari in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole is so close to Grand Teton National Park that people commonly use it as the place they stay while visiting the national park, so it only makes sense that if you’re staying in Jackson in winter, you ought to visit Grand Teton as well!

Admission is $35 per vehicle for 7 days of access, so you can make return visits any time you like.

If you plan on visiting a few national parks this year, I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99. Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

 Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here!

I have an entire guide to visiting Grand Teton in winter, and I recommend reading it here as you’ll be sure to add a few things to your Jackson Hole winter bucket list from this post!

If you prefer a guided but private experience, you can do a small-group winter safari tour of Grand Teton and its wildlife, limited just to you, your guide, and your family/pod. You can find moose, wolves, bighorn sheep, elk, and all sorts of wildlife in the winter (just don’t expect bears — they’ll be hibernating). Book it here.

For a similar experience but better suited to a single person or couple traveling, you can buy individual tickets on a Grand Teton winter wildlife tour, though do note it is shared with other people. However, masks are required and provided in shared areas. Book it here.

A moose on a winter safari in Grand Teton National park

Visit the Ice Castle in Teton Village

If you are traveling with young kids, they’ll love the Ice Castle in Teton Village, in the Village Commons area.

It’s located right next to a small hill, which is perfect for sledding and snowplay.

The castle is made from snow and ice and has kiddos playing around it all hours of the day.

There’s also a skating rink here and the ice castles get lit up at night to make it a great place to spend an evening with the family.

An ice castle building with snow in the background.

Visit Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for skiing or snowboarding

If you love to ski or snowboard, a visit to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is probably already high on your list of must-do activities.

After all, this powder paradise has exciting terrain for all experience levels and ages to shred!

I’m not a skier or a snowboarder, so I’ll let you peruse the official Jackson Hole tourism website which has all the info you’ll need to know to pick the perfect ski resort for you.

A man doing a jump while backcountry skiing in Jackson

Ride “Big Red” to 10,450 feet

There are even fun winter activities for non-skiers to experience resort-life!

Anyone wishing to take in the alpine views at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on foot should make time to ride the Aerial Tram (AKA Big Red) to 10,450 ft. There are even waffles waiting for you at the top!

After your 9 minute ride up the mountain, pop into Corbet’s Cabin for one of their world-famous waffles! They pair perfectly with the mountain scenery.

The famous "big red" gondola in Jackson bringing travelers up to the top of the mountain resort

Enjoy an après-ski scene for all

Whether you’re coming from a powder day at the resort or an afternoon roaming downtown shops, après ski begins at 3PM!

For folks coming off the slopes, the Mangy Moose is widely-known for their après fun among visitors and locals alike. Cold beer, signature drinks, and filling nachos are only a few of the restaurant’s top attractions.

Grab a table after a long day of skiing or riding and listen to some live music as you recount the day’s excitement.

Downtown Jackson has an après scene of its own, and a local favorite is the Million Dollar Cowboy. You may recognize this bar’s famous saddle stools!

If you’re looking for some après-ski fun in town, pop into this lively watering hole for western ambiance, music, mouthwatering steak, and a refreshing beverage!

Feet up with ski shoes still on with apres ski drinks in the background and a view of distant ski chalets and mountains

Enjoy the delicious Jackson Hole dining scene

Foodies, this one is for you! Jackson Hole is the heart of the west but home to cuisines from all over the world.

If your breakfast, lunch, and dinner were from all the best restaurants in Jackson, the lineup would look like this:

Breakfast: Delicious espresso drinks and gourmet French bakery items come together at Persephone Bakery. Take something to go or dine in. There’s something everyone will love here from light and sweet to filling and savory!

A perfect cappuccino with foam with chocolate on top, served on a wood table.

Lunch: Every town has its signature burger place, and in Jackson, it’s Liberty Burger. Reasonably priced with a wide selection of local brews on tap, there’s no wonder why Liberty Burger is a local favorite! Try your first bison burger with onion rings on the side. They even have great veggie burgers!

Dinner: For dinner, pass around a variety of European-style small plates at Bin22. Make reservations in advance or arrive early because this is one of the most popular dinner restaurants in Jackson Hole! Sip on hand-selected wines and indulge in the best flavors your palate has ever tasted.

Dessert: If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to stop by Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream. Their all-natural ice cream made with 100% organic cream is to die for. For those out there that don’t like ice cream, Moo’s also has a wide selection of baked goods, truffles, and even offers house-blend coffee!

Hit up the local breweries

Jackson has a great brewery scene that you absolutely should check out while you’re there!

Roadhouse & Brewing Company is a favorite stop on the Wyoming Beer Trail. The brewery started as homebrewers and they’ve kept true to their roots, focusing on small-batch beers inspired by the landscapes around them.

Snake River Brewing is another local favorite, which also offers tours of their brewery — just e-mail them to set up a tour.

StillWest Brewery & Grill also operates in town and always has several beers which are standard (a kolsch, an APA, a red ale, a pilsner, and a porter) and 3+ seasonal offerings.

A flight of 4 beers including a dark stout, a light lager, a medium-colored pale ale, and a red ale.

Jackson Winter Weather

In a word? COLD!

So cold, in fact, that the coldest temperature Wyoming ever experienced was measured in Moran, Grand Teton National Park, just 31 miles from Jackson — a bone-chilling -63 degrees Fahrenheit, back in 1933!

But don’t worry — that’s not exactly the average temperature in Jackson in winter.

Here are the breakdowns for winter temperatures and weather conditions in Jackson in winter, and what to expect on a month-by-month basis from November through March.

A classic view of Grand Teton National Park in winter: peaks covered in snow with blue skies

November: Average high of 40° F and an average low of 17° F, with 6 days of rain/snow

December: Average high of 28° F and an average low of 7° F, with 8 days of snow.

January: Average high of 28° F and an average low of 5° F, with 8 days of snow.

February: Average high of 33° F and an average low of 9° F, with 6 days of snow.

March: Average high of 42° F and an average low of 18° F, with 10 days of snow/rain.

What to Pack for Jackson Hole in Winter

A sign which reads "Howdy Stranger Yonder is Jackson Hole: The Last of the Old West" with mountain background.

If you’re going to do any winter hiking, skiing (cross-country or downhill), snowmobiling, or general snow play, you’ll want to bring waterproof outer layers like snow pants or waterproof hiking pants as well as a waterproof jacket.

Underneath, you’ll want lots of layers: think thermals, wool socks, and a cozy sweater. You’ll also need proper snow boots and winter accessories.

Waterproof Parka: In the snow and cold of winter in Jackson Hole, you’ll want something like this wonderful North Face parka. I’ve had this one for ten years and it’s held up beautifully from everything to biking in NYC in winter to visiting north of the Arctic circle in Tromso and Abisko. It’ll certainly do you well in Jackson in winter!

Waterproof Pants: If you’re doing any winter hiking, skiing, sledding, snowboarding (basically, anything more intense than just checking out viewpoints you can drive to) you’ll want waterproof pants: trust me, jeans just won’t do! 

Thermal Layers: Underneath whatever clothes you choose to wear, you’ll likely need some thermal layers to keep you warm in the Jackson winter cold.

Snow Boots: For snow boots, I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend!

Winter Accessories: No matter what the temperature, winter accessories like a hat, gloves, and scarf are always a good idea! They help you layer and protect your most sensitive parts (ears, head, fingers) from the cold.

Snowshoes: Many trails in nearby Grand Teton National Park in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots!) if you want to do some winter trekking.

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Wyoming winter beauty! I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down.

Headlamp (and extra batteries): If you’re hiking in or doing anything in the mountains in winter, it can get dark early — and quickly. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected or if you are planning any sunset hikes. This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Where to Stay in Jackson in Winter

An Aerial view over Jackson Hole in winter with lots of snow

Best Overall: Wyoming Inn

 The chic yet laid-back Wyoming Inn at Jackson Hole is my personal pick for where to stay in Jackson, WY! This charming hotel is super cozy and is designed with Western-style decor.

The inn’s lobby comes with a roaring fireplace, is toned with warm colors with lots of wood elements, and has an overall rustic design that gives you serious cabin vibes with modern hotel amenities.

The Inn also has its own designated fitness center complete with fancy Peloton equipment, a big hot tub to soak sore muscles in, and complimentary tea, hot chocolate, and cookies by the fireplace! There’s also a great on-site restaurant for nights when you’re too tired to properly hit the town.

>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here <<

Best on a Budget: Elk Country Inn

If you’re traveling Jackson on a budget, look to the beautiful The Elk Country Inn. It’s highly rated by fellow travelers and affordable (well, by Jackson standards) for cost-conscious travelers.

It’s located just 4 blocks from Town Square in central Jackson, and the rooms are modern, spacious, and clean.

I’ll admit, the ambiance is a bit generic/standard hotel, and it doesn’t quite have the cool hipster points that. aplace like Wyoming Inn has, but it’s warm, comfortable, and well-appointed.

There’s also an indoor swimming pool and a lobby fireplace: two big wins considering its budget-friendly price tag.

>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here <<

Best in Luxury: Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa

 If cost is not a factor, the stunning Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa (a Noble House Resort) is a no-brainer.

This hotel is as luxurious as it gets in Jackson Hole, located in Teton Village just about a mile from Grand Teton National Park. It’s perfect for people who plan on skiing while in Jackson because it’s basically a ski-in, ski-out hotel.

There are a variety of room types, all with a gorgeous fireplace and cooking area, so you can find everything from queen studios to bi-level two-bedroom suites. While none are particularly budget-friendly, you can find the best size and style to suit your needs.

In terms of luxury amenities, there is a phenomenal on-site restaurant, a chic bar area with a great apres-ski scene, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an indoor heated pool, a massage and spa center, and a gorgeous outdoor heated pool that’s lit up beautifully at night for after-dark dips under the Wyoming stars!

>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here <<

***

There’s so much to do and see in Jackson Hole in winter!

There’s no denying, this snowy paradise is the perfect destination for foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, powder hounds, and view-seekers alike!

Read More

If you’re planning a winter escape, you may want to read these guides which will help!

Pin This Guide to Jackson Hole in Winter

Grand Teton in Winter: 30 Things to Know Before You Go

Anyone who loves the aesthetic beauty of snowy mountains will be in awe by the winter views in Grand Teton National Park!

The peaks rocky slopes become artistically contoured by the frequent arrival of fresh powder, and the area trails become snow-covered.

Grant Teton National Park and its gateway town of Jackson, WY come to life with winter visitors eager to explore.

If you love getting outdoors in the wintertime and enjoy the brisk mountain air, Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park in winter are the perfect destinations for you!

Outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world flock to this winter wonderland for the epic ski terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, backcountry skiing in the Teton Range, mountaineering, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and the encompassing mountain views.

Grand Teton in Winter FAQs

A moose walking through the snow with snow-covered Grand Teton range behind him in winter
Is Grand Teton open in winter?

Absolutely — Grand Teton National Park is open 365 days a year, including the winter season! However, once there is significant snowfall, many roads and areas in Grand Teton do close down. We go into those closures later in the article

Can you drive through Grand Teton in winter?

The two main highways in Grand Teton are open in winter: Highway 89/191 and Highway 26/287. Many park roads close to vehicle traffic in winter and become groomed trails for winter sports, including Teton Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road.

What is the best time of year to visit Grand Teton National Park?

It truly depends on what you enjoy doing and how comfortable you are in the cold! If you’re looking to enjoy hiking but aren’t a fan of snow, then Grand Teton in winter is obviously a bad idea. But if you can find joy in winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter wildlife tours, then I’d say winter is Grand Teton National Park is one of the best times of year due to the stunning snow-covered scenery and serious lack of visitors!

What is there to do in Grand Tetons in the winter?

So, so much — we’ll go into it all later in the post! But let’s start with winter hiking, cross-country skiing (Nordic skiing), guided backcountry skiing, guided wildlife tours including sleigh rides to see local elk, snowshoeing, and warming up after all your adventures in nearby Jackson Hole which is a lively place to be in the winter!

Grand Teton Winter Weather

A classic view of Grand Teton National Park in winter: peaks covered in snow with blue skies

In a word? COLD! So cold, in fact, that the coldest temperature Wyoming ever experienced was measured in Moran, Grand Teton National Park — a bone-chilling 63 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in 1933!

But don’t worry — that’s not exactly the average temperatures in Grand Teton in winter.

Here are the breakdowns for winter temperatures and weather conditions in Grand Teton National Park, and what to expect on a month-by-month basis from November through March.

November: Average high of 35° F and an average low of 14° F, with 11 days of rain/snow

December: Average high of 25° F and an average low of 3° F, with 12 days of rain/snow.

January: Average high of 25° F and an average low of 0° F, with 12 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 30° F and an average low of 2° F, with 10 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 39° F and an average low of 11° F, with 10 days of snow/rain.

Grand Teton Entry Price in Winter

View over a winter Grand Teton landscape with a river, trees, and snow-covered mountains.

The Grand Teton entry price is the same year-round. For vehicles, it costs $35 for a 7-day pass. For people entering on foot, it costs $20 for a 7-day pass.

If you’re planning on visiting Yellowstone in winter as well, that’ll be $70 per vehicle for both parks, as there is no combined ticket for just the two parks. However, for $10 more, you can buy a National Parks Pass valid for an entire year.

If you plan on visiting both parks, I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99.

Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

>> Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here! <<

Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center

Wood, stone, and glass building with snow piled high and on roof with the words "Visitor Center" and one person entering the building

Every trip into a national park should begin with a stop at a visitor center! Visitor centers are the perfect place to get the most recent information on road conditions and chat with professionals that have expert knowledge of the area.

The Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center is located in Jackson, WY, just outside of the national park and next to the National Elk Refuge.

In addition to offering an official update on road conditions and information on winter safety, this visitor center has phenomenal views, interesting interpretive displays, a bookstore operated by the Grand Teton Association, and ticket sales for sleigh rides into the National Elk Refuge.

Visitor Center Hours

During the winter season in Grand Teton National Park, the Visitor Center hours for the Jackson Hole Visitor Center are between 9 AM and 5 PM seven days a week.

Although the visitor center is open year-round, holiday visitors can expect to find the center closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Be sure to get all the info you need in advance!

Once you have all the information you need, you’re ready to explore a wintry Grand Teton National Park!

Where to Stay in Grand Teton in Winter

An aerial photo taken with a drone of Jackson Hole town with a river winding through it and mountains on the edge of town

There is nowhere to stay in Grand Teton National Park itself in the winter, as all the in-park lodging ends mid-October. Therefore, you’ll want to stay in nearby Jackson Hole or Teton Village.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of incredible accommodations there! Here are our top picks for where to stay near Grand Teton.

My top choice? The chic yet laid-back Wyoming Inn at Jackson Hole! This cozy inn features Western-style decor complete with a roaring fireplace, warm woodsy colors, rustic design touches, and large, modern rooms.

Added luxury amenities include a fitness center with Peloton equipment, a large hot tub, complimentary tea, hot chocolate, and cookies by the fireplace, and a delicious on-site restaurant.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availablity here

Traveling on a budget? Then I would opt for the beautiful The Elk Country Inn, which is highly rated and affordable for cost-conscious travelers. Just 4 blocks from the central Town Square in Jackson Hole, the rooms are modern, spacious, and clean.

The ambiance is a bit generic hotel, as opposed to hip places like Wyoming Inn, but it’s warm and comforting nonetheless. There’s also an indoor swimming pool and fireplace: a score for a budget-conscious place.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Looking for the ultimate in luxury? If cost is not a factor, the stunning Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa (which is a Noble House Resort) is the obvious choice! This is as luxurious as it gets in the Grand Teton area. There are a variety of room types, all with a gorgeous fireplace and cooking area, so you can find everything from queen studios to bi-level two-bedroom suites.

It’s located in Teton Village, just over a mile from Grand Teton National Park and close to several ski runs in case you’re traveling with skiers. There is a phenomenal on-site restaurant, a lively bar area for apres-ski drinks, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an indoor heated pool, a massage and spa center, and a gorgeous outdoor heated pool that’s lit up beautifully at night for after-dark dips.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Grand Teton NP Winter Road Conditions and Closures

A view of a plowed road leading through a pine forest with a clear view of the Grand Teton winter range ahead

Winter-like conditions in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole can last from November until mid-April.

During that time, the park closes many of its roads to keep visitors safe during winter travel. The park service strongly encourages 4-wheel drive and tires that are suitable for snow-covered roads during winter in Grand Teton.

Grand Teton Winter Roads Open Year-Round

For those traveling from Jackson, WY, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191 remains open through the winter up until the Flagg Ranch, which is just before the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Although the roadway is plowed, those who choose to travel on this route should expect the road to be snow-covered and icy. Drive with caution.

Seasonally Closed Roads

Beginning on November 1st, the Teton Park Road is closed to private vehicle traffic from the Taggert Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge. The road remains closed throughout winter until April 1st.

Although the Teton Park Road closes to private vehicle traffic, it does open up to many more fun winter activities, which we will get to in a bit!

Most other park roads close on November 1st or when the park service determines that the road is impassable due to snowfall.

Always check on conditions at the Jackson Hole Visitor Center before entering the park!

Grand Teton Winter Tours

Three bighorn sheep clustered together in a snow-covered Grand Teton in winter landscape

There are tons of winter tours if you prefer a more structured experience in Grand Teton in winter, led by a knowledgeable guide who is passionate about the region and exploring it safely and conscientiously.

Here are a few of the best Grand Teton tours and activities you can do in the winter!

Snowmobiling: The beautiful Heart Six Ranch offers full-day snowmobiling tours of their region in the Grand Teton mountains, including a tasty lunch at a beautiful mountain lodge and gear rental (bring your own warm base layers). This is a full-day tour from 8 AM to 4 PM or later, so it’s great for whiling away a day in the backcountry of Grand Teton in winter!

>> Book your snowmobiling excursion here <<

Wildlife Tour: Want to see the best winter wildlife in Grand Teton National Park? That means a pre-dawn wake-up call to spot some of the most beautiful animals in the park on a sunrise wildlife tour. This small-group tour (maximum size: 7 participants) includes a pre-dawn pickup, tasty breakfast, and several hours of wildlife spotting with an expert guide before returning to your hotel for a cozy afternoon nap or fireside lounge!

>> Book your sunrise wildlife tour in Grand Teton here <<

Full-Day Private Tour: For an all-day private guided tour of Grand Teton for small groups up to 4, this is the best tour to pick if you want total privacy for your group or family for social distancing or just enjoyment purposes. This tour focuses on winter wildlife spotting and photography spots in Grand Teton, but as you are the only participants on the tour, you can speak with your guide to try to customize aspects of the itinerary.

>> Book your private guided tour of Grand Teton here <<

Cross Country Skiing in Grand Teton National Park

A father and son enjoying cross-country skiing on a winter day in Grand Teton National Park with blue skies and snow.

Skiing into Grand Teton National Park is an experience unlike any other. The area’s powdery snow is perfect for ski touring, and the views are unbeatable.

There are many professional outfitters located in Jackson that can equip you with everything you need to get out and glide through Grand Teton National Park. If you are visiting during the holidays or for spring break, you may want to reserve your rental gear in advance to secure availability!

Teton Park Road

For those interested in cross country skiing in Grand Teton, the Teton Park Road is a great place to start.

The Teton Park Road is groomed from the Taggert Lake Trailhead, where you will likely park your vehicle, all the way to Signal Mountain Lodge.

That’s nearly 15 miles of beautifully groomed trail to explore beginning in mid-December, depending on conditions. The trail passes popular attractions like Jenny Lake and the southern end of Jackson Lake.

Whether you decide to ski only a few miles or the whole stretch of the road, on a bluebird day you’re guaranteed epic views of the Cathedral Group, which includes Grand Teton, Mount Owen, Teewinot, Middle Teton, and South Teton. 

Moose-Wilson Road

Another great option for some in-park cross country skiing is the Moose-Wilson Road.

To ski along the groomed trail on this scenic road, park at the Granite Canyon Trailhead. The road is groomed for about 3 miles, where it ends at another trailhead.

Round trip, the trail offers 6 miles of the wonderful forested scenery. During the winter, skiers often use this road to access Phelps Lake.

Skiing with Pets in Grand Teton

A faraway view of horses in the distance and mountains with footsteps in the snow.

Did you know your favorite four-legged friend can join you as you ski?

Regardless of snowfall, the Teton Park Road does close on November 1st to private vehicle traffic. However, the road begins to welcome leashed pets!

Once the snow begins to fall, leashed pets must stay in the multi-use lane. Pets are also welcome on the Moose-Wilson Road following the November 1st closing.

Use caution whenever traveling off-trail and be aware of the current avalanche conditions.

Snowshoeing in the Tetons

A family embarking together on a snowshoeing adventure in Grand Teton National Park away from camera towards the mountains.

For anyone uninterested in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is another great way to get outdoors in the wintertime!

There’s an easier learning curve compared to cross-country skiing, and snowshoes are very cheap to pick up your own pair so you can have them with you all winter season long. Here’s a well-reviewed affordable pair that also comes with snowshoeing poles.

One thing to note: on mixed-use trails, do not snowshoe in the cross-country ski tracks! The cross-country skiers use this to return to the trailhead more easily. It’s poor trail etiquette to snowshoe over their tracks.

Ranger-Led Tours

Grand Teton National Park offers a fun program called, “Explore Winter: Snowshoe with a Ranger”.

Participants can join a park ranger for a snowy hike in the Taggert Lake area. This is a great opportunity to learn how to be safe while recreating in the winter, ask questions about the park, and explore the Teton’s beautiful landscape.

Reservations for this ranger-led program must be made in advance on the park’s official website. Snowshoes, historic of those used in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II, are provided to all participants. 

Groomed Trails on Moose-Wilson Road and Teton Park Road

The groomed trails in Grand Teton National Park, mentioned above in the cross-country skiing section, are also open to snowshoeing!

Remember to avoid walking on top of the ski tracks whenever possible.

Colter Bay

If you’re interested in a self-guided snowshoe excursion, there are a few other areas to consider.

A popular spot for winter hiking and snowshoeing is Colter Bay. The Colter Bay trails are adjacent to Jackson Lake and offer picturesque views of the Teton Range on clear days!

To access the Colter Bay parking area, visitors should use John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191. From the town of Jackson, this area is a 1-hour scenic drive.

Backcountry Skiing in Grand Teton in Winter

A man skiing doing a large jump in the backcountry landscape of the Grand Tetons with a powder trail behind him.

The Teton Range is a well-known paradise for mountaineering, climbing, and backcountry skiing. However, these activities aren’t for the faint of heart or the inexperienced.

Grand Teton National Park encourages all snow-season backcountry users to carry the appropriate safety equipment and have expert knowledge of avalanche safety.

There is still a way to explore the winter backcountry for intermediate skiers, however. For those eager to get deeper into the Teton’s remote terrain, a guided backcountry ski trip might be in order.

There are many professional outfitters that are permitted to offer guided backcountry ski trips into Grand Teton National Park! Teton Backcountry Guides is one such company.

Going with a professional guide is a great way to learn about winter safety and ensure that the mountain routes you run are thoroughly assessed for avalanche danger.

The helpful folks at the Visitor Center can help you find a guide company that offers exactly what you’re looking for.

Winter Wildlife Viewing

An elk with giant horns in focus with mouth open and a blurry background with one other elk behind.

Get out of the chilly winter air and warm up on a scenic drive to seek out some area wildlife.

Grand Teton National Park is home to bison, deer, elk, coyote, bear, and even wolves!

Although bear settle in for hibernation in the wintertime, many of the park’s other wildlife remains active.

Hit the road for a drive along John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191 from Jackson, WY. Take all opportunities to pull off of the road and scout the open landscape.

A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will be extra helpful for locating wildlife in the distance.

Wolves in Willow Flats Overlook

The Willow Flats Overlook is well-known as one of the best places to scout for wolves in Grand Teton National Park.

Grab a parking spot and set up shop for a little while. Be patient in your search, and remember to have fun!

The National Elk Refuge

Elk can often be seen just outside of the park in the winter at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.

The refuge also is a popular place to spot other types of mammals and migratory birds.

Sleigh Rides to See the Elk

Two brown horses in profile wearing bridal, reins, and other horse gear in order to bring travelers on a sleigh ride.

Wintertime visitors can get a close-up view of the massive elk herd that inhabits the refuge by booking a horse-drawn sleigh ride!

Tickets and reservations for the sleigh rides are available at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center.

What to Pack for Grand Teton in Winter

A view of the famous "Grand Teton Cabin", a wooden structure shaped almost like a sombrero hat, with a sunrise light glow on the tips of the mountain range behind.

Packing for Grand Teton in winter requires some extra consideration, especially in the clothing department.

Waterproof Parka: In the snowy weather and freezing temperatures of Grand Teton in winter, you’ll want something like this wonderful North Face parka. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee (which I’ve tested by sending in my zipper to be fixed after four years of use and abuse cycling in it all winter long – my jacket came back looking like new!).

I’ve had this one for ten years and it’s held up beautifully from everything to biking in NYC in winter to visiting North of the Arctic circle in TromsoAbisko, and Finnish Lapland. It’ll certainly do you just fine in Grand Teton in winter!

>>> Get yours here! <<<

Waterproof Pants: If you’re doing any winter hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, etc. (basically, anything more intense than just a stroll around town) you’ll want waterproof pants: trust me, jeans just won’t do when you’re dealing with snow this deep.

Snow Boots: For snow boots for walking around Yellowstone National Park as well as whatever town you’re using as your base, I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend!

Warm Leggings: You have two options for ultra-warm leggings in winter – fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). I wear these underneath my waterproof pants in the snow. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get!

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: I live in several different colors of knit hats in the winter. Since your jacket is likely a dark or neutral color, it’s fun to liven up your look (and photos) with a selection of colorful beanies. I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness!

Thermal Top Layer: Again, this’ll depend on if you like wool or not. I don’t, so I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm and it won’t trap odors, meaning you can re-wear it several times before it needing a wash — great if you like to pack light.

An Enormous Scarf: The bigger and thicker and more wrappable the scarf, the better. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel soft like cashmere but aren’t pricy (or in my opinion, itchy!) like it!

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on GPS, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and generally out and about a lot in the snow when you can’t put your hands in your pockets.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Grand Teton National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly — due to the early sunset time plus the mountains making it get darker even before that. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected! This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack or Dry Bag: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long hikes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment — or even a dry bag for added protection.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Grand Teton in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots!) and poles if you want to do some winter trekking. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips!

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Grand Teton winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down. Bring extra batteries as they burn out faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries insanely quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature.

I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

>>> Get your battery pack here <<<

Travel Insurance for Grand Teton

View of the Grand Tetons at sunset with sun colors lighting up the mountains in pastel pink and lavender and a snow-covered landscape everywhere else.

I always recommend travel insurance, but in winter, that goes even more so. Travel insurance protects you from everything from accidents to trip cancellation to illness and more.

I use and recommend World Nomads as my travel insurance provider and have been a happily-paying customer for four years of near-constant travel!

If you’re just planning on doing basic winter activities, you can go ahead with the Standard plan, but if you’re planning on anything more extreme — including snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, etc. — you’ll want to upgrade to the Explorer plan for full coverage.

Get a free quote for coverage here!

Concluding Thoughts on Visiting Grand Teton in Winter

Grand Teton National Park is a wealth of outdoor adventure and scenic views in the wintertime.

With so many activities to choose from, there’s no wonder why this area makes a perfect destination for winter travel!

Pin This Guide to Grand Teton in Winter!

Yellowstone in Winter: 30 Useful Things to Know Before Visiting

Yellowstone National Park becomes a wintery wonderland by mid-fall. The peaks are heavy with snowpack, bear hunker down with their full bellies, and the rivers steam at the touch of the frosty air.

As the temperatures begin to drop, the summer crowds disperse and Yellowstone in winter quiets down.

While normally you have to go back-country to get away from the crowds, in winter, Yellowstone front-country becomes a place to seek solitude and silence.

Yellowstone in Winter FAQs

View of Mammoth Hot Springs in sunrise light with lots of mist and steam and pastel colors from morning sun.
What is there to do in Yellowstone in winter?

Quite a lot! While most of the park is closed to private vehicles, snowmobiles and snowcoaches will take you to many of the most scenic parts of Yellowstone without the crowds. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are two of the most popular winter activities in Yellowstone, as well as wildlife spotting and wildlife photography.

Where should I stay in Yellowstone in winter?

Many of the lodges in the park itself are closed, with the exception of the Old Faithful Lodge.

Instead, I recommend staying in Jackson Hole or West Yellowstone.

For Jackson Hole, I suggest Wyoming Inn. This cozy inn features Western-style decor complete with a roaring fireplace, warm woodsy colors, rustic design touches, and large, modern rooms. Check photos and reviews here.

For West Yellowstone, I suggest the hip The Adventure Inn. This stylish spot has a minimalist style, with a Scandinavian sensibility mashed up against a woodsy edge. It’s like a Brooklyn loft and a mountain cabin had a baby: it’s beautiful. Check photos and reviews here.

Can I drive through Yellowstone in winter?

Only through the North Entrance in Gardiner, MT leading to the Northeast Entrance — otherwise a snowcoach or snowmobile transit must be booked. More on that below.

Road Conditions and Seasonal Closures in Yellowstone in Winter

Road leading into Yosemite National Park in winter

As Yellowstone National Park transitions into winter season activities, there are some important dates to keep in mind!

While certain roads close to private vehicles, others begin to open to over-snow transportation such as snowmobile and snowcoach – We’ll talk about these more in a bit.

Yellowstone Entry Price in Winter

Sun low on the horizon showing through a puff of steam from hydrothermal area of boardwalk

The price to enter Yellowstone National Park in winter is the same as at any other time of year: $35 for private vehicles and $30 for snowmobiles, each granting 7 days of admission.

However, if you like National Parks, I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99.

Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

>> Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here! <<

Yellowstone Winter Opening Dates

Paved road with snow covered trees in Yellowstone National Park

These opening dates apply to over-snow travel only. Over-snow travel includes snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowcoach tours, and snowshoeing. It does not include personal private vehicles.

If you would like to drive your own vehicle into the park, you will need to use the North Entrance in Gardiner, MT — the only open road.

The road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance remains open for private vehicles all year.

The following sections of road open mid-December for over-snow travel:

  • West Entrance to Old Faithful
  • Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful
  • Canyon Village to Norris
  • Canyon Village to Yellowstone Lake
  • Old Faithful to West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake
  • South Entrance to Yellowstone Lake
  • Yellowstone Lake to Lake Butte Overlook

Yellowstone Winter Closing Dates

Yellowstone geyser in winter showing blue turquoise water with orange rim in white snow

If you are planning to make a late winter trip to Yellowstone National Park, you will want to be aware of the winter closing dates for over-snow use.

The following roads close to over-snow travel in early March:

  • Sylvan Pass
  • Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris
  • Norris to Madison Junction
  • Norris to Canyon Village

All remaining roads close for over-snow travel, with the exception of the road between the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance, in mid-March.

Winter Road Conditions in Yellowstone

Curving paved road leading to Yellowstone in winter with snow-covered trees.

Always check on Yellowstone National Park’s official website for updated road conditions before traveling to the park. The weather can change quickly, and you’ll want to be prepared.

That means snow chains if you are driving the North-Northeast Entrance route, safety flares or triangles in case of a breakdown, and warm clothing / emergency blankets in case you are stranded for a while waiting for a tow.

When to Visit Yellowstone in Winter

Frozen Lower Yellowstone falls with trees on the landscape.

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park for winter activities is between the end of December and the end of February. It’s one of my favorite National Parks to visit in December for good reason!

This is because it falls into the over-snow travel period but before the period ends, and it has the fewest crowds while also having some of the most stunning snow-covered landscapes you can imagine: white snow broken only by the beautiful kaleidoscope of the rainbow-hued geothermal pools in the ground!

Weather in Yellowstone in Winter

Misty foggy landscape of Yellowstone in winter with trees and mountains.

Yellowstone in winter can be summed up in one word: FREEZING.

Fun fact: The West Entrance recorded the park’s record low of -66°F in 1933. BRRR!

Here are the breakdowns for winter weather in Yellowstone and what to expect on a month-by-month basis from November through February.

November: Average high of 34° F and an average low of 13° F, with 12 days of rain/snow

December: Average high of 26° F and an average low of 4° F, with 13 days of rain/snow.

January: Average high of 28° F and an average low of 3° F, with 13 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 31° F and an average low of 4° F, with 11 days of snow/rain.

Getting Around Yellowstone in Winter

View from behind of a man on snowmobile with another snowmobile ahead on a sunny winter day.

Traveling in Yellowstone National Park is a little different in the wintertime.

Some pre-trip planning is in order if you plan to visit Old Faithful, Canyon Village, Yellowstone Lake, or any other area of the park that is inaccessible by private vehicle.

If you want to explore these areas of the park during the wintertime, you will want to schedule a snowcoach or snowmobile tour well in advance of your trip date! These excursions are popular among wintertime visitors!

Booking an Over-Snow Tour

A yellow snowcoach plowing through snow in Yellowstone National Park

You have two options for over-snow travel in Yellowstone in winter: snowcoach and snowmobile. And they are very different!

A snowcoach is an enclosed vehicle with large tires capable of driving on the park’s snow-covered roads with ease. They have comfortable seats and large windows for viewing the snowy landscape.

Snowcoach tours are great for families or visitors who want to sit back and relax while exploring the park with a knowledgeable professional.

For those with an adventurous spirit, a snowmobile tour will offer a thrilling Yellowstone winter experience!

Although driving speeds are limited to 25 mph in the park, riding a snowmobile past herds of bison and elk is exhilarating and unlike any other scenic tour. The best part is, the professional outfitters will make sure you are geared up to stay warm throughout the entire ride!

Now, let’s talk about what kind of fun winter activities there are in Yellowstone!

Overwhelmed by Visiting Yellowstone National Park in Winter?

Pack of elk with horns with one standing in the river and others in background

Admittedly, Yellowstone is not the easiest national park to visit in the winter if you are used to being able to drive to different points and not have to worry about over-snow transportation.

If reading this far into the post has gotten you feeling a bit anxious and overwhelmed by all the planning that needs to go into a successful Yellowstone winter trip, I strongly recommend opting for a 4- or 5-day guided tour which will handle all the logistics.

This 4-day tour includes transportation from Jackson, Wyoming on the beginning and end of the tour as well as 3 nights of accommodation in West Yellowstone, ending in Jackson Hole.

It includes the following: wildlife sighting opportunities in Grand Teton National Park (keeping an eye out for wolves, elk, bison, moose, elk, bison, foxes, eagles, deer and more!), a snowcoach trip to see Old Faithful and other hydrothermal areas in Yellowstone National Park, a horse-drawn sleigh ride into the National Elk Refuge, boardwalk hikes through Fountain Paint-Pots and Mud-Pots, and lots of stops for beautiful winter photography opportunities.

Check the itinerary and more details of this 4-day Yellowstone and Grand Teton winter trip!

Pack of four wolves walking through snow in Yellowstone National Park in winter

Another option is this 5-day wildlife-focused tour which covers Yellowstone extensively. It starts in Bozeman, Montana (a wonderful place to stay in winter!) and includes 4 nights of accommodation, dropping you off in Bozeman on the return.

It includes the following winter activities: a day of wildlife sightings (keeping an eye out for both bald and golden eagles, white-tailed deer, coyotes, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and more), visiting Old Faithful via chartered snowcoach and also seeing Fountain Paint Pots along the way, Cooke City for the best place on earth to see wolves (located in the northern range of Yellowstone), and wolf winter safaris in Lamar Canyon with experienced wildlife guides and wolf researchers.

Check the itinerary and read more details about this 5-day Yellowstone wolf and wildlife focused tour!

Cross Country Skiing in Yellowstone

A white woman smiling and going cross-country skiing in Yellowstone national park

Yellowstone National Park is full of wonderful ski trails from groomed front country loops for beginners to remote backcountry routes for seasoned and highly-experienced skiers!

If you’re interested in getting out into nature on some cross country skis, these are our favorite beginner-friendly trail options for getting out into the nature of Yellowstone National Park in winter!

Upper Terrace Loop Ski Trail

View of Mammoth Hot Springs with orangey-pink sunrise sky and mist floating up from geyser.

A little spontaneous? This trail is great for last-minute trips into Yellowstone National Park in winter.

Since you can drive to the trailhead in your personal vehicle without booking over-snow transportation in advance, there’s often minimal planning involved.

The 1.5-mile loop is routinely groomed, but it can be considered difficult for beginners due to the few steep sections.

Enjoy this scenic trail around the upper terrace geysers and hot pots in Mammoth’s hydrothermal area. It takes about 1-hour to complete this loop, but leave time to take photos with the geysers, including Mammoth Hot Springs, Canary Spring, and Orange Spring Mound!

Black Sand Basin Trail

Steam rising from a geothermal feature with flowing river and snow on each side

The Black Sand Basin Trail is a great option for beginners or experienced cross country skiers!

This groomed ski trail begins at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and heads to the Upper Geyser Basin Trail. The 4-mile trail will take about 3-hours to complete as you glide past the many steaming hydrothermal features.

This ski trail is located near Old Faithful and is inaccessible to private vehicles during the wintertime.

Advanced planning is needed to accommodate for over-snow transportation.

Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail

Pack of elk with horns eating in the snow

Were you hoping to encounter some wildlife while skiing in Yellowstone in winter? Cover some ground on the Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail to spot bison, elk, and maybe a wolf pack in the distance!

This trail has a few challenging sections and stretches 8-miles with a trailhead on both ends.

It is common for skiers to park one vehicle on both ends of the tail or only ski in a few miles before turning around toward the trailhead. Either way, know your experience level and make a plan before hitting the trail.

Cross Country Ski Rental

A man on cross country skis with back turned heading towards a geothermal feature in Yellowstone in winter

Forgot to pack your cross country skis, or don’t know if you want to make the investment in your own pair just yet?

There are plenty of rental shops located in the towns of West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Big Sky, and Bozeman.

Stop by a rental shop or call ahead and they can outfit you with everything you need to experience Yellowstone National Park’s groomed cross country ski trails!

Snowshoeing in Yellowstone

A man with a red jacket and backpack snowshoeing on a misty day with snow

For those looking to take the trails a little slower, snowshoeing is a great option!

Snowshoes and trekking poles can be rented at many of the same outfitters offering cross country ski rentals, so no worries if you couldn’t bring your own along.

Many ski trails in the park are also snowshoe-friendly. Just avoid walking on top of ski tracks whenever possible, as this makes it difficult for cross-country skiers to return (as they trace their tracks!).

Here are a couple of trails to try out.

Observation Point Loop Snowshoe Trail

A blue sky day with snow on the ground and a view of Old Faithful geyser erupting steam high into the air

This trail is a must-do for anyone staying at the Old Faithful Lodge!

Conveniently located just past the Old Faithful Visitor Center, the Observation Point Loop Trail is a great way to watch the timely eruption of the world-famous geyser, Old Faithful!

Strap on your snowshoes because this 2 mile loop trail is closed to skiing. Along the way, you’ll catch views of other area geysers and maybe even some wildlife.

Tower Fall Ski Trail

For those looking for a longer snowshoe outing, the Tower Fall Ski Trail is a great choice.

Along this 5 mile trail, snowshoers will be rewarded with wintry views of Tower Fall and the Yellowstone River Canyon. Keep your eyes peeled, bison and wintering elk frequent these areas!

Winter users can park their personal vehicles in the parking area nearby Tower Junction and follow the unplowed road behind the gate.

The trail begins with a gradual uphill, which is great for warming up on chilly days! This trail is also popular for cross country skiing.

Winter Yellowstone Wildlife Viewing

A red fox looking towards the camera in the snow

A lot of Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife remains active throughout the winter season.

Although bear hibernate in their cozy dens during the snowy months, wildlife such as elk, bison, wolves, fox, coyote and bald eagle can still be spotted!

If you are taking a private tour in a snowcoach or on snowmobiles, your guide will be sure to point out any wildlife in view.

Wildlife Spotting Without a Tour

A grey wolf looking directly at the camera with snow-covered trees behind him

For those who are planning to take their own vehicles into Yellowstone, we have a few tips!

  1. Drive out toward the Lamar Valley with binoculars, hot beverages, and warm blankets. Find a nice spot where you can look out over the valley and start scanning! The Lamar Valley is famous for wolf sightings and a fresh blanket of snow often makes them easier to spot.
  2. In the wintertime, Mammoth Hot Springs becomes a popular spot for wintering elk to settle in. Spend some time in this area and count how many elk you can find!
  3. Bison can often be viewed along the drive to the Lamar Valley. If you see Bison as you drive along, be sure to only stop in designated pullouts for safety.

What to Pack for Yellowstone in Winter

A woman in a pink hooded parka with a camera photographing snow-covered trees

Waterproof Parka: In the snowy weather and freezing temperatures of Yellowstone in winter, you’ll want something like this wonderful North Face parka. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee (which I’ve tested by sending in my zipper to be fixed after four years of use and abuse cycling in it all winter long – my jacket came back looking like new!).

I’ve had this one for ten years and it’s held up beautifully from everything to biking in NYC in winter to visiting north of the Arctic circle in Tromso and Abisko. It’ll certainly do you just fine in Yellowstone National Park in winter!

>>> Get yours here! <<<

Waterproof Pants: If you’re doing any winter hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, etc. (basically, anything more intense than just a stroll around town) you’ll want waterproof pants: trust me, jeans just won’t do when you’re dealing with snow this deep.

Snow Boots: For snow boots for walking around Yellowstone National Park as well as whatever town you’re using as your base, I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend!

Warm Leggings: You have two options for ultra-warm leggings in winter – fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). I wear these underneath my waterproof pants in the snow. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get!

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: I live in several different colors of knit hats in the winter. Since your jacket is likely a dark or neutral color, it’s fun to liven up your look (and photos) with a selection of colorful beanies. I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness!

Thermal Top Layer: Again, this’ll depend on if you like wool or not. I don’t, so I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm and it won’t trap odors, meaning you can re-wear it several times before it needing a wash — great if you like to pack light.

An Enormous Scarf: The bigger and thicker and more wrappable the scarf, the better. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel soft like cashmere but aren’t pricy (or in my opinion, itchy!) like it!

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on GPS, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and generally out and about a lot in the snow when you can’t put your hands in your pockets.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Yellowstone National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly — due to the early sunset time plus the mountains making it get darker even before that. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected! This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long hikes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Yellowstone in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots!) and poles if you want to do some winter trekking. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips!

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Yellowstone winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down. Bring extra batteries as they burn out faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries insanely quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature. I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

Cooke City Excursions

A misty close up view of the peaks near Cooke City

Cooke City is a fun destination for self-guided winter trips into Yellowstone National Park. Here, winter is the primary season!

It’s not uncommon for folks to be snowmobiling in the surrounding national forest area into late June or even July!

If you’re planning on spending the morning searching for wildlife in the Lamar Valley, Cooke City makes a great place to enjoy a hot meal around lunchtime.

***

Bundle up and enjoy your winter adventure into Yellowstone National Park!

Pin This Guide to Yellowstone in Winter

9 Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels of Hikers

With over 900 miles of hiking trails, Yellowstone National Park has plenty of beautiful terrains to explore on foot.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from stroller-friendly boardwalk trails abound the colorful geysers near Old Faithful to challenging mountain summits that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the 10 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park you won’t want to miss!

The Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels

Fairy Falls

Distance: 2.5 miles (5 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Who doesn’t love a scenic waterfall hike in Yellowstone? Fairy Falls is arguably the m ost beautiful waterfall in Yellowstone National Park, but lesser-known than Tower Falls, Upper Falls, and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

Fairy Falls is most commonly accessed from the Midway Geyser Basin near Grand Prismatic. To hike to Fairy Falls from the Midway Geyser Basin, park in the Fairy Falls Parking Area about 1 mile south of the geyser basin parking.

From the parking area, cross the bridge over the Firehole River and follow signs to Fairy Falls. After about a half-mile of hiking, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful overlooking view of the Midway Geyser Basin including Grand Prismatic.

This is a perfect spot to stop for photos! The Yellowstone hike to Fairy Falls is about 2.5 miles each way, with under 250 ft of elevation gain. Once you arrive at the falls, you’ll be blown away by the water’s free fall from 200 ft above!

Before you head into the park, check with a park ranger or online for trail conditions. The Fairy Falls Trail is closed in the springtime for bear management.

Avalanche Peak

Distance: 2.1 miles (4.3 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation gain: 2,100 feet

Extraordinary views of Yellowstone Lake, remote wilderness, and towering alpine peaks wait at the summit of Avalanche Peak.

At 10,574 ft high, Avalanche Peak is a challenging Yellowstone hike fit for experienced hikers with tolerance to steep terrain and high elevation.

One of Yellowstone National Park’s more physically demanding day hikes is also one of the most rewarding.

Roundtrip, this tough Yellowstone hike is about 4.3 miles. In the first 2.1 miles heading to the summit, the elevation gain is a whopping 2,100 ft!

The switchbacking trail that leads to the summit offers stunning views the entire way.

This trail is not recommended during September or October as grizzly bear activity heightens in the months leading up to their winter hibernation. Always hike in groups, make noise, carry bear spray, and be bear aware whenever hiking in bear country.

Winter is also not recommended due to high levels of snowfall.

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Note: Temporarily closed: check here for updates or check AllTrails trip reports for up-to-date information.

Distance: 0.6 miles (1.2 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy in length, but lots of stairs, so more like moderate for those with bad knees/mobility limitations
Elevation gain: 350 feet

The view from the observation deck at the base of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone is a must-see for anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Located in the Canyon Area at the South Rim, this heavily trafficked trail takes hikers from the top of the canyon down 328 steps to the base of the Lower Falls, which is a towering 308 ft high!

The hike down into the canyon is no problem with the well-crafted staircase, but keep in mind you’ll have to climb back out. There are many comfortable places to rest on the return hike, and it’s not a race to the finish.

The original trail, constructed by Uncle Tom Richardson in the 1800s, was not as you see it today. Before the well-constructed series of staircases and switchbacks, the trail was made primarily of rope ladders, which brought hikers down to the base of the falls.

Tower Fall Overlook

Note: At time of writing, this beloved Yellowstone hike is closed. Check AllTrails data for recent updates to see if it’s opened back up!

Distance: 0.9 miles (1.8 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Check out the epic 132 ft drop of Tower Creek from the Tower Fall Observation Point! The waterfall is ominously framed by towering pinnacle rock formations, which give the creek its name.

Access to the observation point is very convenient! From the roadside parking area, head towards the trailhead, which is just past the general store.

There’s a popular overlook that’s a short walking distance from the parking area and another that involves covering a little more effort. The second viewpoint includes a 1-mile round trip walk down to the Yellowstone River towards the bottom of the falls.

Unfortunately, the trail ends short of the waterfall’s base due to a mudslide in 2004, but the riverside walk is enjoyable and scenic.

Reward your little hike with a treat from the general store!

Mammoth Hot Springs Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 560 feet

If you were hoping to see elk and hot springs, Mammoth is the place to be! Located nearby the North Entrance and Roosevelt Arch, Mammoth Hot Springs is a great place to get an up-close look at hot springs and even spot some wildlife!

Walk along the series of boardwalks through the variety of hydrothermal features.

Choose to stay on the Mammoth Terraces Trail to explore the Upper and Lower Terraces, which are filled with steamy multi-colored hot pots, or use this trail to access a web of remote backcountry hiking trails.

In total, there are about 1.3 miles of boardwalk available to explore around the Mammoth Hot Springs, plus the traditional trails.

There is parking at the Upper Terrace area, however, the parking area at the Lower Terrace is larger making finding a space much easier!

Mount Washburn

Note: This route may be closed — check AllTrails in advance to see if it’s changed

Distance: 3.1 miles one way (6.2 miles return) if coming from Dunraven Pass trailhead
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-6 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 1,400 ft

If you’re looking to bag a peak in Yellowstone National Park, Mount Washburn is one of the most popular summits and day hiking destinations!

The summit has panoramic views of Yellowstone’s pristine landscape, but that’s not all. The peak also has an active fire lookout, which includes interesting interpretive exhibits.

There are two trails to the summit of Mount Washburn. The first option begins out of the Dunraven Pass Trailhead and is 6.8 miles roundtrip. The second option begins at the Chittenden Road Trailhead and is the shorter route option at 5.8 miles roundtrip.

Both trails offer beautiful scenery and access to the 10,243 ft summit of Mount Washburn. Whichever trail you choose to pursue, be sure to pack all the Yellowstone day hiking essentials including food, water, layers, a trail map, and bear spray.

Keep your eyes peeled as you hike, trail users often report seeing bighorn sheep close to the summit!

Lamar River Trail (Cache Creek Trail)

Distance: 3.5 miles each way, 7 miles return
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 700 ft

The Lamar Valley is famous for its wildlife sightings and pristine prairie landscape.

While driving through the valley, it’s not uncommon to spot giant herds of bison, wolves patrolling in the hills, or a grizzly bear lumbering around the willows near the river. When visiting Yellowstone National Park, make a visit to the Lamar Valley a high-priority!

Although a drive-by view of the Lamar Valley is nice, an in-depth excursion on foot is even better!

Take one of the best hikes in Yellowstone on the Lamar River Trail/ Cache Creek Trail to explore the area’s rolling landscape, wildflowers, and wildlife. Hikers commonly see herds of bison along the way. Don’t forget to monitor the trail ahead to see who’s footprints have been left in the mud!

Begin your hike into the Lamar Valley at the Lamar River Valley Trailhead and follow the trail toward Cache Creek. The roundtrip distance is around 7 miles with about 700 ft in elevation gain.

Pro tip: Stop often and scan the hillsides using a spotting scope or binoculars to find wildlife. It can be difficult to spot wolves and bear from a distance without one of these tools since they blend so well with the landscape!

West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 60 ft

Located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch.

The boardwalk trail here is a 1-mile loop that sees lots of use in the summertime. With the astonishing views, there’s no wonder why!

The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail takes hikers along the shores of Yellowstone Lake for a closer look at the fascinating hydrothermal features. Stroll the boardwalk and take in the alpine views from this magnificent trail.

Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail

Distance: 0.7 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 15 ft

Watching the timely eruption of Old Faithful is often high on Yellowstone National Park visitor’s bucket list. Many arrive at Old Faithful without realizing how much hiking there is to do in the area!

The Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail is the perfect short Yellowstone hike to do if you have a little time to spare before the big event! At only 0.7 miles roundtrip, this trail is a nice boardwalk stroll for any experience level.

Pass by the colorful pools and bubbling pots as you make your way around the loop. Watch the time! You’ll want to be back to the Old Faithful Viewing Area with time to grab a seat for the eruption.

Old Faithful Pro Tip: If you’re not interested in watching Old Faithful from the bleachers near the visitor center with everyone else, make your way over to Observation Point in time for the event.

To get to Observation Point, find the trailhead at the end of the boardwalk near the Old Faithful Lodge and Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria. Follow the trail about 0.75 miles to an obvious lookout area.

Remember to be mindful of the natural landscape when choosing a viewing spot. Stay on the maintained trail and avoid stepping on the fragile alpine vegetation.

***

I hope these tips helped you plan some fantastic Yellowstone hikes for your upcoming trip!

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Your Perfect Arches Itinerary: 2 Days in Arches National Park

The perfect desert adventure is waiting for you in Moab, Utah, at Arches National Park!

This outdoor playground is home to the highest density of natural sandstone arches in the world: we’re talking over 2,000 documented to date!

Full of breathtaking red rock features and scenic hiking trails, Arches National Park is sure to impress every national park enthusiast. But there’s a lot to see here, and it can get overwhelming, so we’ve broken the top thing to do in Arches National Park into this easy two day Arches itinerary!

Day 1 of Your Arches Itinerary

Start the day at the Arches National Park Visitor Center

The rugged landscape that makes up the 119 square mile park is more fragile than you may think.

Luckily, the Arches National Park Visitor Center near the entrance station is well-equipped to provide information about park stewardship as well details on how to access and appreciate the park’s many famous attractions.

Also, they’ll let you know of any important closures. For example, on my last visit, unfortunately the Devil’s Garden was temporarily closed.

The visitor center is also a great place to top off all your water bottles! Although there are fill stations sprinkled throughout the park, it’s important to carry plenty of water at all times.

Summertime temperatures often exceed 100ºF/38°C, so proper hydration while tackling this Arches itinerary is extra important — especially if you’re hiking a lot!

Begin your exploration at the Moab Fault Overlook

As you continue into the park from the visitor center, you will begin to gain elevation.

Look around at the sandstone features as you make the switchbacks above the park entrance. To the left, you will see three pinnacles called the Three Penguins. Can you make out the penguin shapes?

The turnout for the Moab Fault Overlook will be one of the first viewpoints in the park on the right side of the road. Check out the impressive fault and read through the helpful interpretive signs.

Hike the scenic Park Avenue Trail

From the Moab Fault Overlook, continue on the main road to the Park Avenue Trail and Viewpoint. The views are epic right from the parking area. This stop makes a great backdrop for a group photo!

Park visitors that are unable to hike long distances can enjoy an amazing lookout here. The first section of the hiking trail is paved to be wheelchair and stroller accessible.

For those who wish to continue past the paved section, the trail leads toward the astonishing Courthouse Towers in the distance. The 2-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers to the canyon floor for a close up of the various towers and fins!

The trail connects with the main road at the 1-mile turnaround point, so it’s possible to arrange for a shuttle (do this in advance) if you don’t want to hike back to the Park Avenue Trailhead or are trying to save time on this Arches itinerary to maximize your tirp.

Gaze at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

After a nice walk through the sandstone monoliths, head back to the main road and stop at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint.

There’s not much of a trail here, but it’s a nice place for scenic views with some interpretive posters to read through. You’ll also be able to spot the Three Sisters rock formation here!

The La Sal Mountains that you can see in the distance are about 20 miles south of Moab and are the second-highest mountain range in Utah.

They offer great recreation opportunities for locals and visitors with skiing in the wintertime! But in summer, boy, do they make one beautiful backdrop.

Visit Arches’ ‘Great Wall’

This feature isn’t quite the same as the great wall you may be thinking of on the other side of the globe.

The Great Wall in Arches National Park is a towering row of naturally formed sandstone cliffs and towers.

Take in a drive-by view of this phenomenal feature or stop at the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint. From the designated viewpoint, you can see the Great Wall in the distance and the petrified dunes with the La Sal Mountains in the background.

Hike to the viewpoint at Balanced Rock Trail

This next tower is going to blow your mind! If you’re looking closely, you can even spot it as you drive to the trailhead…

Continue past the Great Wall on the main road until you see the well-marked parking area for the Balanced Rock Trail on the right.

Near the trailhead, there are bathrooms and a nice picnic area. Take some time to regroup, hydrate, and refuel with a well-deserved picnic lunch before you head out on a hike to Balanced Rock.

Feeling rejuvenated? Good!

Now, it’s time to get a closer view. The short and easy 0.3-mile scenic loop will take you around the base of the iconic feature.

This rock formation, known as a hoodoo (the likes of which you’ll see all over Utah, in particular Bryce Canyon National Park) appears to be balancing a bolder that is 55 feet in diameter.

The total height of the structure is 128 feet!

Explore the Windows Section of Arches National Park

Not far past the Balanced Rock Parking Area is a side road marked with signs leading to The Garden of Eden, Double Arch Trail, and The Windows Section.

The first hike takes off at the very end of the side road. Park in The Windows Section Parking Area and look for signs to The Windows Trail.

The Windows Trail is an easy 0.65-mile loop that takes hikers to the North and South Windows and finishes off with an up-close view of Turret Arch.

As another option, hikers can take Windows Primitive Loop Trail for an alternate view of the North and South Windows. Truth be told, literally all the trails are all scenic in this section of Arches National Park!

Hike the Double Arch Trail

The second trail that you must hike on this side road is the Double Arch Trail.

The Double Arch Trailhead Parking is just a short drove from the Windows Section. Set aside ample time to explore this next arch and don’t forget your camera!

This easy 0.25-mile hike begins in a cool desert forest of juniper trees. Continue on the trail until you come to the unmistakable Double Arch! There’s nothing quite like it.

Set up camp at Devils Garden Campground

A fun-filled day in Arches National Park is best rewarded with an overnight at Devils Garden Campground. It’s also the only campground in Arches proper.

Located right inside the park, this campground makes a perfect starting point for your next day’s adventures. The sites in this campground are all well laid out providing some shade and red rock views.

It’s also a great place for stargazing in Arches!

Take in the sunset at Skyline Arch

Did you think you were done for the day? No way! Arches National Park is famous for its glowing golden hour!

Right from the campground, take the short and easy walk over to the Skyline Arch. The round trip walk will be less than 0.5 miles from the trailhead.

If you brought your headlamp along, stick around for the star show. The uninterrupted night sky is sure to reveal some stellar views of the Milky Way.

That’s officially all for day one. Now, it’s time to rest up for an early start!

Day 2 of your Arches Itinerary

Catch sunrise on The Broken Arch Trail

Rise and shine!

Grab your headlamp, camp stove, instant coffee, and a breakfast bar for the trail, because this is a sunrise you will not want to miss. Mornings are hard, I know, but this will be 100% worth it.

Right from the campground, hop on the Broken Arch Trail. The arch is located less than a mile from the trailhead, and it offers a perfect spot to sit and brew some morning coffee as you watch the sun come up over Arches National Park.

From Broken Arch, you can complete the loop to pass by Sandstone Arch on your way back to the campground or go back the way you came. The distances are about the same.

Trek through Devils Garden

Take your time breaking down your campsite as you prepare for another day of adventure in this desert playground! Don’t forget to top off on water here, as refill spots can be few and far between in Arches National Park.

No trip to Arches is complete without a hike on the Devils Garden Trail. Within only 2 miles of hiking, you will pass by a dozen natural sandstone arches.

This is a good hike to do earlier in the day before temperatures become too hot (hence the name Devil’s Garden!).

With detours to grab a closer look at some of the arches, the total distance on this hike becomes about 5 miles — so it’s not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to tackle this hike and bring lots of water, preferably in a Camelbak for easy access.

Return to the parking area to find some shade and a cool drink of water!

Stare at the beautiful Fiery Furnace Viewpoint

On the main road headed toward the park entrance, there is a parking area for the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint.

From here, you can get an epic view into the thick fins, hoodoos, and arches of this area.

To hike in Fiery Furnace, you must obtain a permit from the visitor center or join in on a ranger-led hike (I recommend this latter option).

Note that since there are no maintained trails through Fiery Furnace, it’s easy to become disoriented and lost — another reason a ranger-led hike is a fabulous idea.

Visit Delicate Arch for sunset

We saved the most iconic arch in Arches National Park for last! You will probably recognize Delicate Arch from the many social media snaps of it, and even from Utah’s license plate!

To reach the trailhead, continue on the main road toward the park entrance until you reach the turn for Wolf Ranch / Delicate Arch Viewpoint Road on the left. Continue down the side road and park at the Wolf Ranch Parking Area.

The hike to Delicate Arch is a little challenging and requires hikers to follow the cairns marking the trail to avoid getting lost.

Take your time and be observant. At 3 miles round trip, this hike is well worth the close-up view of the arch!

Say goodbye – for now – to Arches at pristine Panorama Point

Take one last good look at Arches National Park from Panorama Point.

This is the perfect place to reminisce and plan your next Utah adventure — trust me, there will be another one!

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3 Days in Acadia National Park: Itinerary for a Perfect Trip!

Rocky cliff walls meet the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island.

Commonly known as Vacationland, Maine offers everything from delicious locally sourced seafood to beautiful outdoor terrain. There’s something for everyone  to enjoy here!

Bar Harbor, Maine is the lively gateway community to Acadia National Park. With fun shops, walking trails, and restaurants, Bar Harbor makes a perfect basecamp for your Acadia adventure.

Choose from the many New England style bed and breakfasts, modern hotels, or even campgrounds when you go to book your trip accommodations.

Grab your map, camera, hiking gear, and National Park Pass for a fun 3-day tour of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island — some of the best places to visit in Maine!

Day 1 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Afternoon Sun at Sand Beach

Since you’ve just arrived on Mount Desert Island, a little relaxation by the ocean is in order. Although most of the coastline on the island is rocky cliff faces, there is one sandy ocean beach hidden inside Acadia National Park for all to enjoy!

Sand Beach is about a 20-minute drive from the Bar Harbor town center and is one of the first attractions along the Park Loop Road. The parking area tends to fill up early, so be prepared to scout for a parking spot.

The beach is staffed with park lifeguards to make swimming in the chilly water safe for all the brave souls that choose to do so. Sand Beach is the perfect spot to set up for a sunny afternoon with a cooler, beach chairs, and plenty of sunblock.  

If you’re not interested in swimming, there’s still plenty to do in this area, such as searching through tide pools to see who’s swimming around and walking the 290-meter shoreline to search for shells and sand dollars.

There are a couple of fun trails that take off from this area too. One of the nearby trailheads is for the Great Head Loop Trail, which starts on the east side of Sand Beach. The shorter loop option is 1.6 miles around and offers spectacular panoramic views of the area, including a scenic overlook of Sand Beach.

If you want to add a more challenging hike to your Acadia itinerary on the first day, the trailhead for the Beehive Trail, a tough but rewarding 1.6-mile loop, is located right near Sand Beach.

Stroll Bar Harbor

After soaking up the sun and relaxing the afternoon away, it’s time to head into town and enjoy all the cool things to do in Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor is a charming New England coastal community with quirky boutique shops and amazing seafood restaurants.

Before dinner, take a walk along the Shore Path, which begins at the Town Pier. This short path offers beautiful views of the boats anchored in the harbor for the evening.

Dinner at The Terrace Grille

Dine right on the water next to the Town Pier. The outdoor seating is decorated with beautiful yellow umbrellas and offers five-star views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands. Not only are the views great, but the food is too!

Keep it classic with a boiled Maine Lobster or indulge and order the Maine Lobster Bake, which comes with all the goods including New England clam chowder, steamed mussels and clams, over one pound of Maine Lobster, seasonal sides, and homemade blueberry pie!

Grab a cone at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

Hope you saved room for dessert. Is any evening by the ocean complete without an ice cream cone? You already know the answer to that question!

The ice cream from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is unlike any you’ve had before. Maybe it’s the premium flavors mixed with the ocean air, or maybe it’s the care that goes into every homemade batch. Yum!

Day 2 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Drive the Park Loop Road

Roll the windows down and let in that warm sea breeze as you head out to tour Acadia’s Park Loop Road. Turn on your favorite playlist and enjoy the ride!

The 27-mile road that loops around Acadia National Park is the best scenic drive in the area, taking visitors from the ocean to the mountains and everywhere in between. Set aside at least 4 hours for the drive. There are lots of places to stop along the way, but here are some of the best sights:

First Stop: Hulls Cove Visitor Center

Begin your scenic drive around Acadia National Park at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.

Here you can chat with a park ranger about your plans for the day, pick up a park map, buy souvenirs, and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. The climb up the center’s 52 steps is sure to get your blood flowing!

Second Stop: Sieur de Monts

Sieur de Monts is the heart of Acadia National Park and one of the first attractions you’ll see when driving the scenic Park Loop Road.

This area is home to many sights, including the Sieur de Monts Spring, Acadia Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Abbe Museum, and historic memorial paths.

Hiking around in this area is a great way to spot wildlife and a variety of native plants too!

Third Stop: Thunder Hole

Have your camera ready for this awesome feature!

Thunder Hole is appropriately named after the booming sound the ocean waves make as they slam against the rocky shore while pushing air and settled water to the surface.

The small rocky inlet at Thunder Hole may not be as wild at low tide, but wait for some choppy water to come in with the high tide, and you’re sure to hear what all the hype is about.

Fourth Stop: Otter Point

Less than a mile past Thunder Hole, there will be a parking area for Otter Point.

This rocky shoreline is named after Acadia National Park’s spunky river otters. The most impressive feature at this stop is Otter Cliff, which stands an impressive 110 ft high!

This is a great spot to hang out in the sun and watch the ocean waves crash over the rocks.

Fifth Stop: Lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant

After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time for a well-earned lunch break. Famous for their mouth-watering popovers, the Jordan Pond House Restaurant is every foodie’s dream come true.

In addition to the freshly made popovers, the menu is also loaded with fresh seafood options and entrees to satisfy every craving.

Last stop: Jordan Pond Loop Trail

It’s time to get a little hike in. Wouldn’t you agree?

The beautiful 3.5 loop trail around Jordan Pond is the perfect place. This scenic hike will take you along the shore of the pond. Sturdy shoes are recommended for this trail.

Although most of the terrain is level or boardwalk trail, there are a couple of sections of uneven rocky terrain.

Dinner at Leary’s Landing Irish Pub

After your drive around the Park Loop Road, take some time to relax at your campsite or hotel before heading out for an evening in Bar Harbor.

There’s nothing better than a meal from Leary’s Landing Irish Pub. Conveniently located right in town, this lively restaurant offers everything from bangers and mash to hardy Maine Lobster Rolls.

Don’t forget to add in one of their specialty cocktails!

Day 3 of your Acadia National Park itinerary

Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

When you watch the sun come up from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you’re watching the first sunrise in the entire country!

I hope you’re a morning person or can pretend to be one to experience this phenomenal sight.

Some folks choose to make the 3.5-mile hike to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise, but you can drive to the lookout to sleep in a little longer. 

From Bar Harbor, it only takes about 20 minutes to drive up to the lookout.

Hike the Cadillac Mountain Summit Trail Loop

If you chose to drive up to the Cadillac Mountain lookout, there’s still a nice hike waiting for you at the top.

The Summit Trail is an easy half-mile loop that offers amazing views of the ocean and rocky shoreline during the golden morning hours.

Hike down the trail before the sun makes its appearance to find a secluded viewing spot. Don’t forget warm clothes, blankets, and hot beverages!

Breakfast at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant

An early morning adventure must be rewarded by a filling breakfast! Pack in a morning meal that will have you energized for the next fun activity in Acadia National Park at the Lighthouse Inn & Restaurant.

Whether you choose homemade blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup or the Fisherman’s Delight specialty omelette, you won’t be leaving hungry!

Take a Scenic Cruise

Until this morning, you’ve been admiring the Atlantic Ocean from shore. It’s time to get a new perspective!

At Sea Princess Nature Cruises, passengers can get out on the water for a chance to spot seals, osprey, and other ocean wildlife. The morning cruise is typically 3 hours long, and fills up in advance, so book early!

The boat makes a stopover at Little Cranberry Island, where passengers can see the 200-year-old fishing village and briefly explore the area.

In the last three days, you’ve watched the first sunrise in the USA, splashed around in the Atlantic Ocean, tried some of Maine’s famous seafood, and taken a scenic morning cruise. Now, it’s time to discover your next adventure in Vacationland!

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13 Fun Things to Do in Bozeman, Montana

Folks come to experience Bozeman, Montana for its unbeatable access to outdoor recreation, diverse dining scene, rich history, and fun downtown area.

Bozeman is the kind of place where visitors and locals alike spend all day outdoors and evenings hanging out at one of the many local Montana breweries.

Bozeman is home to a more relaxed way of life where people you’ve never met make eye contact and say, “Hello!” as they walk by. There’s so much to discover in this small mountain town with a fun Western personality.

Here are some of the best things to do in Bozeman, Montana, on your upcoming trip!

Explore the Dining Scene

Foodies rejoice!

Bozeman is filled with amazing locally-owned restaurants serving up tasty dishes, unlike anywhere else. Since there are so many restaurants to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to a few you absolutely must try!

South 9th Bistro

Special occasion or just craving some out of this world Steak au Poivre? South 9th Bistro is always hosting a can’t-miss dining experience. From the friendly staff to the cozy layout that makes you feel at home, this Bozeman restaurant has the food and environment to impress.

Nova

Everyone wants to know about the best breakfast spot in town. Nova is arguably that! A full selection of caffeinated beverages, fresh juices, and a trendy menu that still includes the classics.

Backcountry Burger Bar

Keepin’ it casual! Happy hour at Backcountry Burger Bar is a must for anyone visiting Bozeman. Conveniently located in the downtown area, this restaurant is home to the best burger in town!

Enjoy a Night Out

Get out on the town and explore Bozeman’s fun nightlife. Downtown stays awake all night with live music, drink specials, and swing-dancing!

There are many fun venues to check out, but these are a few of our favorites:

Bozeman Taproom & Spirits

The Taproom is Bozeman’s favorite rooftop bar. With a casual atmosphere, great views, and a full-service bar, the Taproom is a perfect stop after a day outdoors or exploring the town.

Plonk

Feeling a little fancy this evening? Head over to Plonk for wine, cocktails, craft beers, and an atmosphere that will make you feel like a VIP. 

Copper

Whiskey connoisseurs will fall in love with the Copper Restaurant and Whiskey Bar. Their selection of whiskey options span from Bozeman’s own local distilleries to globally recognized brands. This is the perfect place to try your first Montana Mule.

Taste the Taps on a Bozeman Brew Tour

If you didn’t already know, Bozeman’s craft brew scene is flowing with variety. There are so many breweries to choose from, each with their own unique flavors and atmosphere.

Looking for a little more guidance? Take an afternoon tour with locally owned Tour de Foam’s professionally guided trip!

Itching to get a taste of a few of the area’s very best breweries on your own? Here are our top three favorites with beer recommendations:

MAP Brewery: Midus Crush IPA

Bridger Brewing: Mad Mile Cream Ale

Outlaw Brewery: Passive Aggressive Pale Ale

Take a Hike in Bozeman

Getting outdoors is the Bozeman way of life.

There are seemingly endless miles of hiking trails ranging from mellow strolls through relaxed terrain to intense multi-day backcountry missions.

Lace up your boots and check out some of the area’s best hiking trails to see what all the hype is about.

The M

A popular local favorite is a 1.6-mile loop that’s fit for anyone. Follow the tight switchbacks, which take you to the giant M that stands proudly over Bozeman and radiates Montana State University pride. (Go Cats!)

There are a couple of ways to reach the M ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty.

Petes Hill and Burke Park

Catch the sunset over the Bridger Range from the top of Petes Hill.

Take in the mountain views from one of the many conveniently located park benches or bring a blanket to sprawl out on the grass.

Note: must love dogs to hang out here.

Sacagawea Peak

This one is for the peak baggers out there.

Although challenging, this 4.5-mile round trip hike to the top of Sacagawea Peak, the tallest peak in the Bridger Range, offers rewarding views of the surrounding area from 9,650 ft. The mountain goats like this hike, so keep your eyes peeled!

Learn the Local History

The Gallatin Valley is full of rich and interesting history.

From the original Native American tribes that called the valley home to its colonization in the 1860s led by frontiersman, John Bozeman, this area has a fascinating story to tell.

You can learn about some chapters of Bozeman area history by visiting the Museum of the Rockies and Missouri Headwaters State Park.

Museum of the Rockies

Did you know that the Museum of the Rockies boasts the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in North America and that they have all been collected from Montana and surrounding states?

In addition to their complete dinosaur exhibit, the Museum of the Rockies also has local history displays, a never-disappointing rotating exhibit, and a planetarium.

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Only a short drive from Bozeman, this state park is where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers converge to form the Mighty Mo.

This Historic Landmark is also the sight of one of the many camps that Lewis and Clark used during their famous expedition.

There’s plenty of history and scenic trails to explore here!

Spend Some Time by the River

Bozeman is in proximity to the Yellowstone, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers. All three of these well-known rivers offer great opportunities for on-water recreation!

The Gallatin River is the closest to Bozeman, but access to both the Yellowstone and Madison is less than an hour’s drive away.

Go tubing

Hot summer days in the valley are perfect for lazy river tubing down the Madison.

You can buy your own tubes or rent them from Madison River Tubing Company.

Try your hand at fly fishing

Home to one of the scenes in A River Runs Through It with Brad Pitt, the Gallatin River offers a world-class fishing experience!

Anglers from around the world come to fish these Blue Ribbon fisheries.

Go out on your own or book an experienced guide to show you the ropes and get you hooked on some beautiful native trout.

Go whitewater rafting

Experience one of the three nearby rivers at highwater for an exciting whitewater adventure!

With Montana Whitewater’s experienced guides, you can run the Mad Mile, a rowdy section of Class III-IV rapids on the Gallatin, the Kitchen Sink, an intense Class IV rapid on the Madison, or the Yankee Jim Canyon, on the Yellowstone right near the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Enjoy Some Winter Adventures

Bozeman is, without a doubt, a 4-season destination. If you plan to visit in mid-winter, expect snow and a lot of it!

With powder days galore, there’s no wonder why so many skiers and snowboarders rank Bozeman high on the list of must-visit winter destinations.

Conveniently located between two top-rated ski areas, Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort, there’s a lot of skiable terrain to cover!

No interest in the downhill shredding? Not a problem. There are still tons of fun outdoor things to do in Bozeman for non-skiers!

Some fun suggestions are Nordic skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. Gear rentals and experienced guides are abundant and easy to find in this outdoor paradise!

Shop Local

Downtown Bozeman is the perfect place to find locally made art, practical outdoor clothing, and fun home decorations.

By walking up and down W Main Street, you’re sure to find a storefront that catches your eye!

Some of everyone’s favorites are Heyday, Cactus Records, Montana Gift Corral, and Chalet Sports.

Check Out the Weekly Events

This mountain town keeps things lively in the summer with a schedule of fun and diverse events.

There are a few that reoccur multiple times throughout the warm season to keep everyone coming back for more.

Enjoy Music on Main

Main Street shuts down on Thursday evenings throughout the summer, allowing locals and visitors alike to roam the street freely to shop, eat, and drink, all while listening to live music.

Don’t be shy! Dancing in front of the stage is highly encouraged.

Shop at the Weekly Farmers Market

Join local artisans for the summer farmers market, which happens every Tuesday in Lindley Park.

The Bozeman Farmers Market is the perfect place to socialize while supporting local businesses.

Take an Art Walk

The art scene in Bozeman is flourishing!

On the 2nd Friday of every month, galleries open their doors to all art lovers.

Enjoy live music dispersed throughout Main Street and a chance to discover amazing pieces of unique artwork.

Take a Soak

Hot springs are a popular attraction in Bozeman! There are three highly recommended hot springs in and around the area that are fun for all ages.

How does it work? The natural mineral water from the ground is harnessed and released into soakable pools for anyone to enjoy.

If you’re in Bozeman and want to check out a hot spring head over to Bozeman Hot Springs, Chico Hot Springs, or Norris Hot Springs for a little self-care and relaxation!

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There are so many exciting things to do in Bozeman, from exploring the outdoors to immersing yourself in the lively downtown scene. This fun-filled mountain town is sure to impress every visitor!