All About Visiting Yellowstone in January
The benefits, drawbacks, activities and other features of visiting Yellowstone in January.
January in Yellowstone National Park is a magical, winter wonderland. Nothing beats the snowy meadows, frozen icicles, hot steam from the geysers mixing with the bitterly cold air, or an ice crystal covered bison trudging through a white plain. There are many benefits to visiting in January, as well as some drawbacks. But, no matter what, if you decide to go to Yellowstone in January, you are sure to have a fantastic trip, and leave with an appreciation for solitude of winter in the park.
Benefits of Visiting in January
The biggest benefit of visiting in January is the wildlife viewing. Most animals in the park aren’t willing to stay up in the high country, when it gets cold and snow-covered, so they make their way to the meadows and valleys. The high concentration of animals at lower elevation make it so much easier to view them—bison, bighorn sheep, foxes, wolves and elk are abundant in the valleys.
Another benefit to visiting Yellowstone in January is the lack of crowds. The month of July sees 4 million visitors, while the entire season of winter only sees .3 million. Because there are so many less people, your chances for solitude grow exponentially.
Visiting Yellowstone during the winter is an extremely different experience than visiting any other time of year. You will see the park in a way that very few people do.
Drawbacks of Visiting in January
One of the biggest drawbacks to visiting the park in January is that most of the roads are closed to private vehicles. The only road that is open for visitors to drive themselves is the road from the north entrance, at Gardiner, to the northeast entrance, at Cooke City. This road goes through Lamar Valley, so it is the best road for wildlife viewing, but still, it is the only one open.
Things To Do In January
Many trails at lower elevation are open in the winter, giving you a great opportunity to snowshoe or cross country ski. Snowshoes and skis are available for rental at Mammoth Hot Springs. Snowshoe tours and cross country ski tours are also available, and give you a unique perspective of the park—highlighting geysers, frozen waterfalls and plentiful wildlife in snow-covered meadows; all with knowledge from a Yellowstone expert.
Many companies offer snow coach transportation from any entrance of the park to Old Faithful or Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Some companies also offer snowmobile tours, or the National Park Service has a lottery system for a Non-Commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program —where visitors over the age of 18 can snowmobile through the park without a commercial guide. These are great ways to get deep into the park, since you can’t drive the road yourself.
Hiking in January
There is a lot of snow in Yellowstone in January, meaning that you’ll probably be hiking in more than just your hiking boots. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are incredible ways to experience the backcountry of Yellowstone in the winter. Many trails are open for these activities in Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Winter guided tours are a great way to explore the park, with all gear provided, and lodging and transportation included, so you can relax and enjoy Yellowstone in a way that not many others do.
Weather in January
Weather in January in Yellowstone is typically cold and snowy. Average temperatures for Mammoth Hot Springs are a high of 30, and a low of 11 degrees Fahrenheit (-1/ -11 degrees Celsius). At Old Faithful, average temperatures are a high of 28, and a low of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-2/ -17 degrees Celsius). On average there are 9 days of snow in Yellowstone in January.
Join a Guided Hiking Adventure
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most epic and amazing hiking vacations in the world. Wildland Trekking offers trips with the best of Yellowstone: geysers, waterfalls, views, wildlife, solitude, adventure and fascinating natural and cultural interpretation.
Guided Yellowstone treks are all-inclusive which covers permits; local transportation (excluded on certain tours); meals; equipment; safety systems and professional hiking/wilderness guides; all of which allows visitors to maximize their time in Yellowstone and focus entirely on enjoying the Park.
YELLOWSTONE ADVENTURE TOURS
- GUIDED BACKPACKING ADVENTURES: these are for people interested in an authentic Yellowstone adventure away from the roads and crowds.
- LLAMA TREKS: on these innovative trips, guests hike with light day packs and camp near in stunning backcountry locations.
- INN-BASED PACKAGES: these tours are all-inclusive packages with lodging, amazing daily hikes, expert guides, meals, transportation and more!
- CAMPING-BASED HIKING PACKAGES: camping-based hiking packages provide all-around hiking experiences of Yellowstone on wonderful outdoor vacations.
- DAY HIKE TOURS: maximize your day in Yellowstone on a fully guided, award-winning hiking tour on one of the Park’s best trails.