Visit Yellowstone in January. New 2023 Update

Visit Yellowstone in January is a perfect time or not let’s find out. National Park USA is the first-ever national park in the world. It is primarily located in the western United States, mainly in the North West corner of Wyoming, and extends to Montana and Idaho. It was established on 1st March 1872 by the U.S. Congress, together with the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act.

The U.S. national park has always been very popular for its wildlife and the wide range of geothermal features inside the park. It also represents many biomes, among which the Subalpine forest is the most abundant. It lies in the South Central Rockies forest ecoregion.

Yellowstone National Park covers an area of 3,468.4 sq mi [8,983km sq], comprising various lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges. The Great Yellowstone Lake in the U.S. national park is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America. It is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the greatest super volcano on the continent.

Enjoy Volcano while Visit Yellowstone in January:

The Caldera is known as the dormant volcano. The volcano has erupted with enormous force several times in the last two million years. Yellowstone has half the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Rocks and the flowing lava from the volcanic eruptions covers most of the land area of the U.S. National Park.

The U.S. National Park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is the largest remaining gnarly intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone. In 1978, Yellowstone National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The U.S. National Park has recorded many species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles, including several others that are either endangered or threatened. The forests and grasslands are vast and include various unique species of plants. Yellowstone National Park is known for its famous megafauna location in the contiguous United States.

Visit Yellowstone in January
Source – Yellowstone National Park

Some well-known wildlife species in the U.S. National Park are grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of Bison. Yellowstone National Park has the oldest and largest public Bison herd in the United States. Forest fires are very common in the national park and occur yearly. The largest forest fire occurred in 1988 and burnt one-third of the forest land.

The U.S. National Park is the most famous in the world and has numerous recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing, sightseeing, etc.,

Paved roads inside the park have become a great way of transport to reach the major geothermal areas and some of the lakes and waterfalls. In winter, the best transport method inside the U.S. National Park is for visitors to access the snow coaches or snowmobiles. These are designed for the winters to combat the snow and enjoy the park’s views and rides.

Pros of visiting Yellowstone National Park in January:

The wildlife viewing is the greatest benefit of visiting the U.S. National Park in January. Most of the wildlife in the national park comes down to the lower elevation in the meadows and valleys during this time. Due to the high concentration of wildlife at the lower elevations, it becomes much easier for visitors to view them.

Some of the animals that are present in the lower-elevation valleys during winter are Bison, bighorn sheep, foxes, wolves, elk, etc.,

Elks are one typical animal that gathers in small groups and is abundant around the Mammoth Hot Springs area. On the other hand, the Bisons mostly form large herds, which are assembled in the Lamar and Hayden valleys. If you want to visit on Spring you can check this.

Certain things, like viewing a bison covered in icicles trudging through deep snow. One must surely use caution without fail while driving through the Lamer Valley. This is where the visitors share the paved roads with the wildlife of the U.S. National Park, especially with the Bisons, who prefer clear roads over snow-covered ones.

Visit Yellowstone in January
Source – The Parks Expert

The tourists can be benefited in two major ways, visiting Yellowstone in January. Due to heavy snow, the whole park is covered with white cover. The winter wildlife prefers not to move around and out of the view of the visitors. Rather, they consume as much heat and energy as possible and accommodate themselves in the winter environment.

The Bison are more likely to stand in the sunlight for hours consuming the heat energy. Also, the snow will help the viewers get a clear view of the elusive animals, making them easier to pick up against the white background. Most wolves and Bison have dark coats over them to easily identify them in the white snow than in summer against trees and dirt.

The whole of winter can be a benefit for the tourists visiting as the amount of crowd is less during this time. As January is the coldest month so the crowd is the least. The pick summer months of the year witnessed around 4 million visitors, whereas the pick winter months have altogether had visitors of around 3 million.


The lack of crowds can sometimes be very beneficial, in case of getting accommodation near the park at a low cost compared to the peak seasons. Parking becomes less hectic and easily available. People who have once visited Yellowstone during the peak seasons and especially during the summer months can easily understand the rapid change in everything.

Starting from the weather till the accommodation and parking places there is a great change in every possible way. During the winter season, especially in January, visitors can get the accommodations within a few weeks of the travel date.

Mainly two accommodations inside the park area remain open during the winter. The first one is at the Mammoth Hot Spring, which tourists can access by car, and the second one is at the Old Faithful, which must be accessed by snow vehicles such as snowmobiles or snow coaches.

Visit Yellowstone in January
Source – Yellowstone National Park

Other accommodations are also available near the U.S. National Park, mostly open throughout the year.

A visit to the U.S. National Park during winter, especially in January, is a very different feeling one can experience. Something that cannot experience during any other time of the year. The tourists can see the park in specific unexpected ways that are impossible during other times.

The mesmerizing beauty of the landscape and the eye-soothing views are a treat for tourists. The photography features can be very useful for people who like to capture moments, especially during a visit to the park’s hydrothermal features, where one can see the boiling springs amidst the frozen landscape.

Tourists who like adventure can also enjoy certain snow sports and snow travel like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow coaches, etc., available only briefly during the winters.

Drawbacks of visiting the U.S. National Park in January:

  • One of the greatest drawbacks of visiting Yellowstone National Park in winter and especially in January, is that most roads, trails, and gateways are closed or blocked due to the heavy snowfall.

The northern entrance of the national park is the only gateway open during the winter. To the northeast entrance at Cooky City, the Gardiner is the way for tourists to drive inside the park.

  • As all roads and trails are not accessible due to the heavy snowfall, tourists can surely go with the snowmobile and snow coach options to visit the other park areas. People sometimes find this travel method quite suitable as they don’t have to drive around in the snow.
  • In January, all the accommodations, visitor centres, museums, restaurants, etc., are not fully open. People must be prepared for some discomforts sometimes and make some arrangements themselves related to the food and drinks.
  • The snowfall in the U.S. National Park is very beautiful during this time. Nature has a lot to offer, but at the same time, the weather is frigid in January. Icy conditions, subzero temperatures, blizzards, whiteouts, etc., are common in January.
  • People visiting Yellowstone National Park in January should pack their clothes, shoes, etc., with utmost care. But that’s not the end; they should also carry some accessories or games to entertain themselves indoors. There are chances of them not being able to enjoy the outdoors all the time.

Activities to Enjoy in January:

The excessive snowfall disturbs the traditional hiking method in the U.S. National Park during January. If the tourists are very eager about hiking, they can try hiking in some of the lower elevations. The lower elevations are mostly open, even though it’s covered with snow.

One can even have a great time snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, as it looks very different to the national park. Snowshoeing and cross-country ski tours can be found for rent near the Mammoth Hot Springs.

Visit Yellowstone in January
Source – Yellowstone Forever

Snow coach transportation can be easily found from any of the park’s entrances to the Old Faithful or Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park.

Non-commercially guided snowmobile access is also available for visitors over 18. They can use the snowmobile throughout the park without any commercial guidance.

For tourists who love adventure and thrill, this is one of the best ways to get deep into the park and discover places where one cannot drive easily.

Places to Visit in January:

The U.S. National Park in January offers a very beautiful landscape for visitors. It’s a paradise in the U.S. National Park. Everything around the people is covered in white snow blankets, and amidst that is the serene landscape, hydrothermal features, wildlife and whatnot. One can be awestruck over here.

Some must-have places to visit in Yellowstone during January:

Old Faithful

The Old Faithful is the most visited place within the U.S. National Park. Be it at any time of the year, the Old Faithful Geyser never fails to impress the people in any way. It is the biggest among the geysers that keep on erupting with consistency.

 Mammoth Hot Springs

The Mammoth Hot Spring is better known as a fountain of scalding water instead of a pool. This is the most unique hydrothermal feature in the park. According to many tourists, the Mammoth Hot Spring is described as the most beautiful fountain seen by humans.

Visit Yellowstone in January
Source – Wikimedia Commons

Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley is one of the best spots in the park for watching wildlife. Some of the famous wildfires found here in January are Bison, elk, wolves, pronghorn, coyotes, etc.; These animals prefer the place as the snow cover is thinner than other places in the park. The temperature is warmer here, and the food is more accessible here.

Norris Geyser Basin

Visiting Yellowstone National Park in January and the Norris Geyser Basin can be one of the best decisions. This is one of the park’s hottest and most active geyser basins. The bubbling hot spring and spewing geysers are a treat to the eyes at any time of the year. They can be the most remarkable when a fresh layer of snow surrounds them.

Taking all the situations into consideration, Yellowstone National Park can be visited in January. It is a good time to visit for people who love it all cold yet adventurous. A little bit of adjustment can be great to complete the trip with utmost positivity. The U.S. National Park has much to offer its visitors, be it at any time of the year.

In January, the best things to watch are the mesmerizing landscapes and the pretty wildlife views in the background of the snowy white cover. To top it up with the snow sports and activities like cross-country skiing, snowmobile and snow coach transportation, etc.,

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