Winter is a magical time inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Sparkling layers of snow are on the ground. Streams freeze over, forming natural bridges for the wildlife that isn’t moving south for the season. It’s quiet and serene, the frozen landscape looking like a scene from a holiday postcard.
November and December are the least traveled months – for example, only 18,869 people visited Yellowstone in December 2016 compared with over 600,000 in September! If you’re looking to visit Grand Teton or Yellowstone anytime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, here are some seasonal spectacles to look forward to.
Getting to the Parks
You’ll need a guide to get in and out of the parks easily during the holiday season. Luckily, Scenic Safaris offers year-round tours of Yellowstone, & Grand Teton National Parks, as well as, Bridger Teton National Forest. Choose from half-day, full-day and multi-day options. Since many park roads are closed for the season, alternative transportation is required. See Old Faithful erupt against the snow-covered alpine forest on a heated snowcoach tour, cruise through the Bridger Teton National Forest on a snowmobile or watch winter wildlife from the comfort of a luxury van. View tour and travel options HERE. Call 888-734-8898 to check seasonal availability.
Holiday Traditions at Yellowstone
Park officials are crazy about Christmas; so much so that they created an annual Christmas in August celebration with holiday tree decorating, themed meals and visits from jolly old St. Nick. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of Yellowstone holiday traditions left for winter. Each year, park officials decorate a giant evergreen tree on Officer’s Row with holiday ornaments. Christmas Eve services are held at Mammoth chapel, built in the early 1900s for the park’s early military guards and their families. Old Faithful Snow Lodge opens for the season in December and typically hosts holiday meals and decorating events. Note that only over-snow travel is allowed here, so you’ll need to set up a specific multi-day trip to accommodate long travel times.
Winter in Jackson Hole
Home to 3 major ski areas, Jackson Hole serves as a comfortable home base for many travelers looking to take a winter tour of Yellowstone or Grand Teton. The festivities begin on Thanksgiving weekend with the annual tree lighting in the town square and a Turkey Trot 5K run. For the first time ever Snow King Resort will host the first ever ISOC snow cross event in Jackson on December 8-9th. The event will be held at Snow King Mountain, the same location as the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb, which arrives the last weekend in March.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Mountain resort typically open for ski season this weekend. In December, Jackson Hole hosts a holiday craft bazaar, winter block party, and several visits from Santa. December 8 through January 6, Jackson Hole Playhouse will present Snowed Inn for Christmas, a holiday comedy served with a side of saloon grub. One of the area’s most popular traditions is an authentic sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge. Though they don’t have reindeer, it’s the next best thing to having your transport pulled by Rudolph, Dancer and Blitzen.
Holidays are some of the best times to visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the nearby National Parks. Travelers can customize their own adventure, whether you prefer a half-day trip to Turpin Meadows Ranch, an exhilarating full-day snowmobile ride at Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon or a multi-day tour where you can see more of Wyoming’s pristine alpine wilderness. Contact Scenic Safaris for more information on winter travel options at Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Gros Ventre mountains.