By Christine Gianas Weinheimer EBS CONTRIBUTOR
Millions of visitors come to Yellowstone each year—most of them during the summer. Relatively few people experience the magic of the park’s winter wilderness. But the quietly beautiful winter season offers many different ways to connect with Yellowstone on a deeper level.
Winter is a perfect time for visitors to expand their knowledge and appreciation of Yellowstone by participating in an immersive, educational program with the Yellowstone Forever Institute. In-depth Field Seminars, led by experts in their field, let you explore a specific skill or topic of interest, from snowshoeing and wildlife watching to photography.
Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park, hosts these multi-day programs to help visitors enjoy, understand and appreciate the park. Though there’s still snow lingering on some mountain peaks from last winter, now is the ideal time to start planning for next winter in Yellowstone. Registration for winter 2019-2020 Field Seminars opens soon, and popular programs will fill up fast.
“In many ways, winter is the defining season for Yellowstone,” said Robert Petty, senior director of education for Yellowstone Forever. “The plants and animals are as they are here in Yellowstone in large measure because of the long cold winters. It is hard to fully appreciate the harsh and beautiful majesty of this landscape without spending time here during the winter season. Participating in one of our winter Field Seminars is an excellent way to experience this spectacular season.”
Wildlife-focused courses led by naturalists and wildlife biologists are among the most popular, and there are several to choose from this coming winter. Two writing workshops and three photography courses will help attendees tap into their creative sides. Participants can even choose to spend a holiday in Yellowstone with special programs to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.
A brand new Field Seminar for the upcoming winter season—”Yellowstone and Yoga: A Winter Yoga Ski Retreat”—is designed for those who would like a more active experience. Another new offering, “Yellowstone’s Dark Skies,” will help participants learn about and observe the park’s dazzling night skies.
Registration for 2019-2020 winter Field Seminars opens on July 31 at 8 a.m. for Yellowstone Forever supporters, and on Aug. 7 at 8 a.m. for the general public. Those who aren’t yet supporters can join when registering for a program online and receive a discount on tuition. Participants stay in cabins at the historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the park’s spectacular Lamar Valley and can be booked at the time of registration.
Registration is open year-round for other types of Yellowstone Forever Institute programs such as Lodging and Learning, Private Tours, Youth and College, or Teacher programs.
Learn more or register at yellowstone.org/experience.
Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman and has been writing about Yellowstone for 17 years.