With pristine wilderness, well groomed trails, geysers and mountains, West Yellowstone offers plenty of adventure, even in winter. The challenge is determining what to do. In Montana that challenge is even steeper with so many opportunities to explore what is around us. While there are plenty of local attractions to keep us busy (the M, Drinking House, Bridger Bowl, Big Sky Ski Resort, Hylite) one that often gets overlooked is Yellowstone National Park.
The majority of roads that access the interior of the park are closed from early November through mid-April, generating the misconception that the park as a whole is inaccessible. To be fair, only three percent of the park can be accessed by road anyway, so for tourists the park is, by their standards, inaccessible to begin with. But Yellowstone during the winter is just as exciting as it is during the summer. With pristine snow-capped mountains overlooking plains that is the type of wilderness that makes you truly understand the purpose of National Parks in the first place. Without the influx of tourists, even the mundane sections of the park become transcendent.
To get to Yellowstone, head toward the West Yellowstone entrance, along US-191. It typically takes around two hours to get there depending on weather and any detours planned. The drive is almost half the fun, following the Gallatin River through the mountains with peaks on both sides continuing on and past Big Sky. Once you reach West Yellowstone it can be almost eerie and seems deserted. During the summer it’s almost unbearable how many people compact themselves into this small town. You can hardly tell that you are now in what many consider “Nordic Mecca.”
The Rendezvous trail system is more than 21 miles of rolling groomed trails that can be taken on by even the most novice of skiers. The different heights of pine trees make for varying degrees of shade that cause for amazing tunnels that lead to open views of the mountain ranges. While cross country skiing is a main attraction, you can also take part in many other activities. Those include snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, hiking, snowmobiling and a few others. It is advisable to bring your own lunch as the prices are significantly higher in the area. Overall the trip is worth it for whatever activity you are looking to do. Get out there and try a new adventure.