Yellowstone’s Northern Range is the only area of the park accessible by automobile year-round. Spectacular in every season, this region also happens to be one of the best places in the world to view wolves and other free-roaming wildlife.
It covers 600 square miles along the Lamar and Yellowstone river basins. A breathtaking 57-mile route traverses the range, bracketed by the Montana communities of Gardiner at the park’s North Entrance and Cooke City outside the Northeast Entrance.
The large concentration of wildlife, combined with open, rolling hills, makes the Lamar Valley an ideal location to see your favorite creatures. In winter, animals are even easier to spot against a snowy white canvas. Observe them from the frequent pullouts along the road, and don’t forget your binoculars! If you prefer, Yellowstone Forever offers guided, wildlife-watching private tours with pickup locations in Gardiner, Mammoth, or Lamar Valley.Other winter trip ideas to this area include:
Hit a trail on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Several popular, beginner-friendly winter trails are in the Northern Range. Be sure to download free maps before you go.
– Although it is accessible year-round, visit the frozen Tower Fall in the winter on skis or snowshoes. The dramatic, 132-foot waterfall is framed by the towering rock pinnacles for which it is named.
– Browse downtown areas of Gardiner or Cooke City, where you can visit shops and art galleries, or grab a bite to eat.
Where to stay during winter
Visitors can make reservations at one of the hotels in Gardiner, Cooke City, Silver Gate or Mammoth Hot Springs. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is closed for the next two winter seasons for renovations, but the gateway town of Gardiner makes a great winter base camp for accessing Yellowstone and the Northern Range. For information on lodging and other services, visit the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce website.
The roads through the Northern Range are plowed throughout the winter but temporary closures are possible in extreme conditions. Check the park’s road status webpage before you go.
Yellowstone Forever is the official education and fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park. To learn more about the organization, visit yellowstone.org.