For most folks a trip to Yellowstone National Park, is what summer vacations are made for. But winter has some perks worth considering when planning your next park adventure.
With a population of about a million in the entire state of Montana, traffic isn’t something folks there need to think much about – unless they are headed to Yellowstone National Park in the summertime.
Everyone wants in.
And it’s easy to understand why. But winter offers many of the same perks as summer visits, losing the crowds just means you need to add some layers. The bison already have plenty of insulation, and with an estimated population of 5,500 in Yellowstone National Park, you’ll meet many. While bison are some of the easiest critters to spot within Yellowstone, elk, deer and Bighorn Sheep have a way of standing out too. Even more elusive animals like red foxes make appearances, you simply need to keep a watchful eye.
Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you’re stuck exploring the park in your car. Flying Pig Adventures offers snowshoeing tours. Along with filling in visitors about the National Park’s history, they know some of the best picnic spots, and have an amazing knack for finding animals you or I would pass by without ever realizing they were there.
Along with wildlife spotting, be sure to save some time to walk along the boardwalk at Mammoth Hot Springs. With temperatures upwards of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the steam coming off the surface creates scenes that seem reminiscent of outer space.
Just 30 miles to the south of Yellowstone, another world of sorts is waiting at Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa. It may sound fancy, but don’t let the name fool you. This is a cowboy hotel, and it’s simply a fun place to catch your breath and relax. Chico Hot Springs Resort is the only spot in a stretch of beautiful, wide-open, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, countryside. Oh, and it just happens to be well over 100 years old. The spring fed pools aren’t fancy, but they feel good and there’s a full-fledged saloon.
Chico Hot Springs is also where you can meet up with Absaroka Dogsled Treks. They offer a variety of dog sledding adventures, from a quick six-mile adventure, a half-day, ten-mile trip, to a full day, 18-mile trek. You can be standing in the sled and have the real deal experience, or sitting in the basket, out for the ride with no responsibility. The choice is yours. Dogs average about 10 miles per hour, but in a racing situation can go as fast as 17 miles per hour. And if you’re an animal lover, when the ride is finished, these pups are some of the most affectionate dogs around.
And before you head for home, make a quick stop at the Museum of the Rockies. Located about 20 minutes or so from the Bozeman Airport, the Museum is home to one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world. Along with a lineup of Triceratops, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is a natural attention getter.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. Dana’s trip was sponsored by Yellowstone Country, Montana, but as always, all of her thoughts and opinions are her own.