Last Updated on February 10, 2024
Ah, winter in Yellowstone National Park – a magical time when the snow blankets the landscape, transforming it into a peaceful, winter wonderland.
Along with many others who have been, I find winter in Yellowstone to be one of the best ways to experience the park, especially when you’re coming from the North Entrance by way of Bozeman.
For starters, the cold of winter encourages the wildlife in Yellowstone to come down into the valleys (like Lamar Valley), making it much easier to spot bison, bald eagles, elk, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, you name it.
On top of that, Yellowstone National Park is a completely different place in winter versus summer, with its snowcapped mountains, pure white landscape, and almost moody/enchanted feel.
As someone who’s traveled to the area plenty of times (and recently) and experienced both Bozeman and Yellowstone in all their snowy white beauty, let’s just say I know a thing or two about the tours and how to make the best of your trip.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best winter Yellowstone tours to choose from that leave from Bozeman, Montana.
If you need more tips on getting to Yellowstone from Bozeman, what to wear to Yellowstone in the winter, and why you should choose a tour from Bozeman in the first place, I’ve provided a deeper dive at the end of this article. Enjoy!
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The 4 Best Yellowstone National Park Tours from Bozeman, Montana
Yellowstone Winter Wildlife Safari (Private Tour)
If you’re looking to visit Yellowstone National Park in the winter specifically to see wildlife, then this tour is easily one of the best private tours around. I booked this private tour with my brother in February 2024 and was very glad I did.
Booking this private safari tour meant we were able to go around the park at our own pace, taking more time at spots we enjoyed the most (like the geysers or in Lamar Valley) to get out, take some of the best photos I’ve ever taken, and just observe the amazing views around us.
Sure, we could have booked a group tour with other people to save money. But when you’re out in Yellowstone National Park trying to see wildlife, the last thing you want to worry about is having to work around other travelers’ schedules, interests, demands, complaints, etc.
Because winter in Yellowstone tends to be very cold and sometimes heavy with snowfall, only 50 miles of road are open for access from November through April.
With this private wildlife safari tour by Yellowstone Safari Co., you’ll get a private & full-day (about 8 hours) driven tour around the northern end of the park. Because it’s a private tour, you can choose your itinerary, depending on road conditions and closures of course.
For my tour, I chose to head straight to Lamar Valley at sunrise so I could get some amazing photos of all the wildlife and the scenery with that sweet golden-hour lighting. From there, we headed to explore Mammoth Springs, the Boiling River, and some other nice parts of the area. I also had to get some pics of the famous Roosevelt Arch, right at the north entrance.
All in all, this is my favorite tour from Bozeman and a great way to visit Yellowstone in the winter. My tour guide/driver, Gabrielle, was super friendly and gave me fun facts about the park as we drove around.
Yellowstone Snowshoe Safari from Bozeman (Private Tour)
Looking to get a bit more action while you’re out in Yellowstone? Then going on this snowshoe safari tour is an excellent way to do exactly that.
Sure, winter probably isn’t the first season that comes to mind when you think of going for a morning walk through the woods. However, by using the age-old technology of snowshoes, you’ll be able to go out for some of the best hiking you’ll ever do as you explore the north region of winter Yellowstone National Park on foot.
On top of being more active and immersed in the park, there are many reasons why people (myself included) love this private tour.
For starters, you have the best chances of seeing wildlife from an up-close (yet safe) distance, as all the animals come down into the plains for the winter. Wintertime is (much) less busy compared to the summertime, so you can essentially have each route and trail all to yourself during your tour!
To top it all off, you have an expert naturalist guiding you as much (or as little) for a personalized experience, so you can learn more about the amazing things that you see along the way.
This snowshoe tour starts at the northern entrance and takes you through Paradise Valley, Lamar Valley (great for wildlife sightings), Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Roosevelt Arch.
Wolf Watching & Wildlife Safari (Private Tour)
Just about all areas of Yellowstone are teaming with wildlife, from the west entrance to the east and of course, up at the northern entrance of this huge park. But while the bison, elk, bald eagles, and even bears are all amazing to see, some people come to Yellowstone specifically for a chance to see the wolves in their natural habitat.
Maybe you’re one of these people. If so, then this tour is likely the best option for you: it specifically focuses on finding wolves throughout the park.
For most of this private tour, you (and your party if applicable) will be guided by a wildlife biologist/ecologist through Lamar Valley, which is famously known as the Serengeti of Yellowstone due to the high concentration of wildlife that call this area home.
While a bison, elk, or even a moose is fairly easy to spot, wolves are very elusive and therefore rare to see if you’re just any regular ‘ole person trying to spot them. But with your tour guide being a biologist/ecologist specifically focusing on Yellowstone, you’ll have darn good chances of seeing these amazing predators during your trip.
Some past customers of this tour say it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime documentary-style trips. I couldn’t agree more.
6-Day Winter Wonderland Tour of Yellowstone (Private Tour)
If you’ll be in the Bozeman/Yellowstone area for an extended time and want a truly immersive experience in Yellowstone, there’s arguably no better way than doing a six-day tour, like this one.
Led by an expert guide from the Bindlestiff Tours group (which has raving reviews), this in-depth tour takes you on a journey through almost the entire park, starting with North Yellowstone, then towards the West Entrance, and even taking you through Grand Teton National Parks.
This tour even includes your stay in a Gardiner hotel as well as West Yellowstone lodges each night as you make your way toward that side of the park.
With six days to explore, this means you’ll have a unique opportunity to experience all that these parks have to offer.
You’ll get a chance to snowshoe around Mammoth Hot Springs, go cross-country skiing through Bunsen Peak, go on a wolf tracking tour with an expert wolf tracker, ride over snow vehicles to West Yellowstone, visit the Wolf and Grizzly Bear Center, see Old Faithful & the geyser basins, visit the snow-covered Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, go dog sledding in the snow, and more.
As one of the few tours that takes you beyond the northern Yellowstone Park area and to the west, there’s nothing like it out there. I did this tour back in 2022 and it was one of the best adventures I’ve ever experienced, hands down.
Highlights: Best Things to See From Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance
From Yellowstone’s North Entrance, which is located right outside of the small town of Gardiner, Montana, you’ll have direct access to some of the most famous features and amazing landscapes in Yellowstone Park. Here are some of the best things to see and do from this entrance:
As the gateway town to the park, Gardiner offers a nice range of services, including lodging, dining, and shopping. It’s a great base for just about any Yellowstone adventure, especially in the winter months when elk congregate in the area.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Just a short drive from the North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs is a must-see. This area is famous for its terraced limestone pools that are created by hot water coming up from the ground and depositing calcium carbonate.
The area also has several walking paths and boardwalks that allow you to explore the unique geological formations up close. It’s amazing to see, even in the winter!
The iconic stone arch at the North Entrance, dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, serves as a historic gateway to the park. It’s a popular spot for photos and marks the beginning of your Yellowstone trip.
Sure it’s a manmade structure at an otherwise nature-oriented park, but it’s well worth the visit! You might as well make a quick stop since it’s on the way in and out.
Known as America’s Serengeti, the Lamar Valley is a bit of a drive from the North Entrance but well worth it for wildlife viewing. I saw hundreds of bison just hanging out by the road in this area, along with many other animals.
Early morning or late evening are the best times to see bison, elk, pronghorn, and even wolves in their natural habitat, especially in winter months.
Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District
Besides the natural wonders of this area, Mammoth Hot Springs includes a historic district with buildings that date way back to the early days of the park. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Fort Yellowstone are part of this district, giving you a glimpse into the park’s past.
Pro tip: Stop at the general store in the area to grab some Yellowstone souvenirs!
Near the North Entrance, the Boiling River offers a unique natural hot springs experience that’s completely free (aside from the cost of entry into the park). A section of the Gardner River mixes with hot springs, creating a relaxingly warm soaking area.
Just remember to check if it’s open for swimming since the park closes this area sometimes due to inclement weather conditions.
Drive the Upper Loop
The North Entrance is a great starting point for exploring Yellowstone’s Upper Loop, which includes attractions like the Calcite Springs Overlook, offering views of the Yellowstone River Canyon, and the Petrified Tree, showcasing an ancient landscape.
Of course, no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without taking some time to see all the amazing animals that call this park home. You can almost always see some form of wildlife walking through the snow on either side of your vehicle as you drive through the park.
If you can, try to take pics during golden hour (sunrise or sunset), where the animals, the snow-covered mountains, and the whole scenery have a soft warm glow to them.
Why Choose a Yellowstone Tour from Bozeman?
Bozeman, a charming little town in southwestern Montana, serves as one of the best gateways to Yellowstone in winter.
How to Get to Yellowstone From Bozeman
To get to Yellowstone National Park’s North Entrance, the most direct route from Bozeman takes you through the scenic Paradise Valley. Begin by traveling east on I-90 towards Livingston, then head south on US Highway 89.
This stretch of road offers amazing views through the valley, framed by the Absaroka and Gallatin mountain ranges. The drive is roughly 80 miles and typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and conditions.
Once you reach Gardiner, Montana, you’ll be greeted by that iconic Roosevelt Arch, which marks the historic North Entrance to the park. This is the only entrance to the park that stays open year-round.
The route from Bozeman directly to Yellowstone’s North Entrance is not only efficient but also gives you a head start on views, with that amazing Montana mountainscape setting the stage for the adventure you’re about to have in Yellowstone.
Lucky for you, all the tours on this list include transportation to and from Bozeman, with pickup options directly from your hotel/lodging.
Planning Your Yellowstone National Park Tour: Tips and Considerations
- Choose the Right Tour: As you just read, there are a decent number of tours you can choose from for your winter Yellowstone adventure. Just be sure to pick the right one. For example: if hiking through the snow doesn’t sound fun to you or if you’re just not physically capable, it would be best to opt for a driven tour for your trip instead.
- Dress Appropriately: The winter in Yellowstone can be extremely cold. Make sure you are well-equipped with warm clothing, waterproof boots, and enough layers so you can stay cozy during your trip.
- Wildlife Etiquette: While wildlife sightings are a highlight, it’s important to respect the animals and maintain a safe distance. I’m sure we’ve all heard those stories of people getting too close to the bison.
Final Thoughts: Winter Yellowstone Tours from Bozeman
A Yellowstone winter tour from Bozeman is more than just a trip; it’s an unforgettable experience where the raw beauty of nature in winter is all yours for the taking.
No matter which Yellowstone tour from Bozeman you decide to choose, visiting the park in winter is always a great choice and will likely be one of the best experiences you’ve ever had.
I’m always around if you have any questions, so feel free to leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram. Cheers, and have a great time!