Yellowstone National Park opened for the winter season on Thursday, Dec. 15, complete with over three feet of snow in the past two weeks. Both the park and the businesses surrounding it are celebrating one of the best seasons in recent memory. The early snow days bring in tourists and residents alike who are itching to see the park in one of its most beautiful times.
“It really just brings a heartbeat to the town,” Brad Benson, general manager of High Mark Rentals in West Yellowstone, told KBZK out of Bozeman. “People are coming into town, not only for the park, but it draws them into the town for the park and then a few days later they’ll come outside the park and enjoy that as well.” Rachel Spence, of Free Heel and Wheel, agreed with the sentiment: “As soon as the gates open, people come in,” she said.
President and CEO of West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce Katrina Wiese said, “Great snow. Really early snow. You know, we always have our ski fest that weekend of Thanksgiving, so we’re always hoping for snow and this year we got a lot of it early on.”
The early snow season brings in visitors who are looking to ski and snowboard. Hotel room rentals skyrocket, as do rentals for snowsport equipment. “It’s happening,” said Rachel Spence, who runs one such establishment. “I mean we have just an awesome amount [of snow] right now. It’s really good skiing. The trails have been groomed since early November.”
Along with snowsports, there are also the amazing Yellowstone National Park thermal areas which are a completely different experience in the winter. The heart of Yellowstone is beautifully altered in the snow, and it’s a sight that truly shouldn’t be missed.
Yellowstone National Park Brings in Visitors With Incredible Early Snow Season
Yellowstone National Park Ranger Rich Jehle commented on the timing of the snowy season. “This is the earliest that we’ve switched over to over-snow vehicles in quite a number of years,” said Jehle. “We’ve been on snowmobiles in the park for employees, for a couple of weeks.”
Even those who don’t capitalize on the winter season are excited about the snow. Steve Hoovler, the co-owner of Big Sky Anglers, shared, “Winter’s the time that we get to catch up on life.”
Though Hoovler and the like don’t sell much equipment for fly fishing in the wintertime, they are still grateful for the visitors that choose to come to Yellowstone National Park during this time. “We see more people coming through town, we see more people coming through the front door. That’s a welcome change, it’s fun to see people in town,” said Hoovler.
Activities will be limited inside the park, as they usually are in the wintertime. But, the flooding from this summer is still lurking, even though a majority of the park has recovered. According to a report from KBZK, the Mammoth Hotel will not be open this year due to flood damage to the sewer system.
Additionally, most facilities are closed inside the park during winter, such as all campgrounds. Additionally, there is a chance for more wildlife sightings. But, as an important reminder, still keep your distance when watching wildlife in the winter.