Northwest

10 Places to Stay Near Yellowstone in Winter for Snow and Nature Lovers

Yellowstone is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the United States. Visiting in the winter brings out an entirely different experience worth traveling for.

Snow blankets the ground and covers the trees. Hot springs and geysers throw steam into the sky. Wolves, bison, elk, foxes, and other wildlife come down into the valleys where they have a better chance at finding food – and a better chance of being spotted by wildlife watchers. Cross-country skiers kick and glide to waterfalls and snowmobilers rev their way to Old Faithful.

This is winter in Yellowstone National Park.

The area around the park, known as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is a mosaic of Federal and private lands. Visitors to dude ranches ride horses on National Forests and dine in rustic luxury beneath antler chandeliers. Western hotels hand out s’more kits and encourage guests to light a campfire under the crystalline stars. There are sleigh rides and ice-skating.

Even though tourism slows in winter, there’s still plenty to do, including alpine and cross-country skiing, winter fly-fishing, snowmobiling, shopping, and spending a day at a spa. The hotels, lodges, and cabins around Yellowstone have a knack for hospitality, welcoming visitors to the quiet season around the world’s first National Park.

Below are some of the lodging options for a snowy, iconic winter trip near Yellowstone.

Big Sky, MT: The Lodge at Big Sky

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The Lodge at Big Sky is the place to relax, ski, and play. Located in Mountain Village, at the base of Big Sky Resort, The Lodge has all the amenities you’d need for a winter vacation near Yellowstone. Ski all day and toast drinks in front of the lodge fireplace at night. Or, take advantage of the heated indoor pool and four hot tubs before meeting friends on the deck to grill burgers beneath 11,167-foot Lone Mountain.

The Lodge At Big Sky

8.4 Very good (2061 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
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Big Sky, MT: 320 Guest Ranch

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For a winter dude ranch experience, 320 Guest Ranch in Gallatin Canyon can’t be beaten. Imagine sitting in your own log cabin, watching the snow fall outside after a day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in Yellowstone, or alpine skiing at Big Sky Resort. Take a few moments to relax tired muscles and let the activities of the day soak in before heading out on your next adventure.

At night, bundle up and head out for a sleigh ride under the stars. Draft horses pull you through the snow as you snuggle under a toasty wool blanket. At the Mountain Man Camp adjacent to the Gallatin River, you’re handed wild game chili, snacks, and hot beverages. After the sleigh ride, return to the dining room for a Western dinner that would make any cowpoke proud. The peeled bark furniture and log walls at The 320 Steakhouse and Saloon make for a rustic atmosphere, fitting for what they call a “Cowboy Gourmand” dinner of steaks, wild game, or Montana Highland lamb. Local brews or cocktails, whiskey is optional, wash it all down.

320 Guest Ranch

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (1135 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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West Yellowstone, MT: Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone

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West Yellowstone is the most visited gateway to Yellowstone National Park. From town, it’s an easy ride in an over-snow vehicle to Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The staff at the Explorer Cabins will organize your tour into the park or get you set up for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice-fishing nearby. When you get back to the Explorer Cabins, you can roast marshmallows around the campfire.

The cabins are clustered in groups of five, making it ideal for extended family or a group gathering. Cross the street to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center where bears and wolves that can’t survive in the wild make their home. (The grizzly bears are used to test whether bear-proof trash cans and other items really are bear-proof.) Next door, Yellowstone Giant Screen (formerly IMAX) shows both recent releases and documentaries about Yellowstone and the area.

Explorer Cabins At Yellowstone

9.0 Excellent (483 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Bozeman, MT: The Lark

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This modern, boutique hotel is situated in downtown Bozeman with easy walking access to the many restaurants and shops historic downtown has to offer. The Lark isn’t one of those hotels that you are anxious to leave. Each room is individually decorated with local artwork and the taco truck in the parking lot and a new coffee shop will fill your tank for adventures in the nearby mountains or simply strolling past fine dining, art galleries, coffee shops, and boutiques in historic downtown Bozeman.

Bozeman is about an hour and a half from both the west and north entrances to Yellowstone. It’s even closer to a sliver of western Yellowstone not accessed through an official entrance. To get into Yellowstone, book a tour with Yellowstone Safari Company and they will pick you up at your door and show you how beautiful and full of wildlife winter in Yellowstone can be. Their guides know the plants, animals, geology, and wildlife in the park better than a guidebook. A personal tour focuses on what you want to know about Yellowstone.

The Lark

9.1 Excellent (817 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.6 / 10
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Pray, MT: Sage Lodge

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One of the newest lodges near Yellowstone is Sage Lodge, perched on a bluff overlooking the Yellowstone River and Paradise Valley. The Absaroka Mountains tear up the sky behind the lodge, creating a jagged line from Livingston, Montana through Yellowstone. In front of Sage Lodge, the Yellowstone River runs north from the park to the Missouri River at the North Dakota border.

Gas fireplaces in the rooms, the Fireside Room, The Grill, and the spa are all reasons to spend the day inside, taking in the view. Sage Lodge host art and science programs for the general public, including Paint and Pour – a step-by-step instructional class with drinks – and Science on Tap – a discussion with a local scientist over a glass of beer. When you’re ready to head outside, don’t miss fly-fishing on the Yellowstone River or a tour of Yellowstone National Park. It’s not far to historic Chico Hot Springs where you can soak your troubles away in their natural hot spring pools. Go a step further and sign up for one of Chico’s dog-sled tours and explore nearby Mill Creek behind a pack of dogs.

Sage Lodge

9.1 Excellent (70 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.9 / 10
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Gardiner, MT: The Park Hotel Yellowstone

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Gardiner, Montana is the only entrance to Yellowstone open in winter to cars. From The Park Hotel, you’re right on Main Street and steps from Yellowstone. Walk to restaurants, shops, bars, the Rossevelt Arch, and the Yellowstone River. Be sure to stop by Yellowstone Forever, the official non-profit partner of the park, for educational displays, park programming, and a gift shop.

Drive into Mammoth Hot Springs to walk, cross-country ski around hot springs, or look for wolves, bison, and elk in the Lamar Valley, known as the “Serengeti of America.” Soak in the Boiling River then snuggle up in your renovated room at the Park Hotel featuring original woodwork and stone walls. The nine-room guesthouse was built of rock by a Cavalry Captain in the days when Yellowstone was managed by the U.S. Army.

Park Yellowstone

9.1 Excellent (121 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Cooke City, MT: Cooke City Mountain House

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Office of Tourism

When you see the view of Republic Mountain and the other striated peaks from the Cooke City Mountain House, you might feel like you’ve stepped into a snow globe.The snowmobile trails in the Absaroka Mountains, the wolf-watching in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will draw you into the mountains.

Or, cozy up in this retreat, make some hot cocoa in the kitchen and watch movies all day from the property’s video library. Walk into Cooke City to take advantage of restaurants like the Bearclaw Bakery, known for their gooey cinnamon rolls and satisfying breakfasts. At night, pull up a barstool at Miner’s Saloon and meet the locals. The local brews and brick oven pizza will keep you warm through the winter evening.

Cooke City Mountain House. Beautiful Views! 4 Miles To Yellowstone. Wifi, Hdtv.

9.2 Excellent (123 reviews)
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Jackson, WY: Snow King Resort

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You don’t get much more “Old West meets the Great Outdoors” than Jackson Hole. Winter is one of the best times to visit Jackson since there are fewer tourists, but you can still do most everything you would any other time of the year.

At Snow King Resort, you can alpine ski, cross-country ski and snowshoe, ride the Cowboy Coaster, and fling yourself down the hill on inner tubes without leaving the property. End your day at the in-house spa, hot tubs, or enjoy some fine dining at Haydens Post or get some casual fare at the Snow King Grill. (We’re talking burgers and fries.)

Snow King Resort Hotel and Grand View Condos

8.1 Very good (3384 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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Moran, WY: Heart Six Guest Ranch

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Office of Tourism

One of the oldest dude ranches in the country is a cozy winter hideout for snowmobiling fans, but it’s also a great launch point for a snowcoach ride into Old Faithful via the South Entrance. This all-inclusive dude ranch includes horseback riding, fishing, snowmobiling, relaxing, and visiting Yellowstone.

The history of Heart Six makes it an especially interesting place to stay. The Ranch started as a fur trading outpost and was used during the gold rush before later becoming a modern guest ranch. But it’s not just the history that’s interesting, there is abundant wildlife in the area. Watch for moose, elk, and chickadees in winter.

Heart Six Guest Ranch

8.0 Very good (518 reviews)
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Teton Village, WY: Teton Club Residences

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Office of Tourism

If you’re looking for a luxury, ski in-ski out accommodation, Teton Club condominiums fit the bill. Located in Teton Village at the base of Jackson Hole Resort, the Teton Club offers stocked kitchens, expansive views of the Jackson Hole Valley’s rolling sagebrush terrain on one side and Rendezvous Mountain on the other, and access to the coffee shops, restaurants, and nightlife of Teton Village.

Catch live music at the Mangy Moose or partake in a little retail therapy in the Teton Village shops, like Rodeo—a specialty women’s clothing boutique and SkyWolf’s fine jewelry featuring Native American and Western art. In addition to world-class skiing, there are plenty of tours into nearby Grand Teton National Park where you can snowshoe, cross-country ski, heli-ski, or go dog sledding. Hole Hiking Experience has been covering all of the above since 1989 and their expert guides will set you up for an individualized experience you won’t soon forget.

Teton Club Residences

Top rated
9.6 Excellent (131 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.3 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of the Wyoming Office of Tourism