Old Faithful in winter

Built around the iconic Yellowstone geyser, the Old Faithful area is home to wintering wildlife, a thermally heated river, three geyser basins (Upper, Middle, and Lower), several hotels (one of which is open in the winter), and great skiing.

While it can be expensive to get to and stay at Old Faithful, the experience of being in the middle of Wonderland in winter makes it worth the price. The closest you can drive is to West Yellowstone at the West Entrance or Flagg Ranch near the South Entrance. From these locations (or Mammoth) a snow coach or snowmobile is necessary to access Old Faithful.

Bison and elk live here year-round, taking advantage of the warm ground and thin snow around the thermal features. Wolf and coyote tracks are often spotted just off the boardwalk. In spring the area is frequented by black and grizzly bears taking advantage of the carcasses of animals that did not survive Yellowstone’s harsh winter.

Make sure you don’t forget anything with my Winter Yellowstone Packing List.

bright pink sunset sky in Yellowstone's Old Faithful Basin in winter

When does Old Faithful erupt? And other Old Faithful questions answered. 

Yellowstone National Park, known for its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, undergoes a captivating transformation in the winter months. The Old Faithful Area, home to the iconic geyser and breathtaking geothermal features, becomes a realm of snow-draped wonder. In this article, we invite you to discover the magic of visiting Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Area during the serene winter season.

Getting to Old Faithful in Winter

old Bombardier snowcoach
Unfortunately, these Bombardiers aren’t used any more, but the newer snow coaches are quite comfortable.

Most over-snow vehicle travel must be with a permitted guide. Check the park’s website for a list. There are a few non-guided snowmobile permits allowed each day, but for getting in and out of Old Faithful, a snow coach is your best bet. Snowmobile tours leave from Old Faithful for day-trippers.

These unique modes of transportation provide both access to the park’s winter beauty and insights from knowledgeable guides.

See also: Best Guidebooks for Planning a Yellowstone Trip

Staying at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins

Old Faithful Snow Lodge in winter

If you want to stay at Old Faithful in winter, you’ll have to stay at the Snow Lodge and Cabins. The Snow Lodge is a nice, basic hotel with a dining room, bar, ski, and gift shop, and a great lobby to read, play board games or drink hot cocoa in. Outside the Snow Lodge, you’ll find an ice skating rink and free ice skates to borrow.

the Snow Lodge offers a cozy retreat after days spent exploring. In addition to the fireplace, warm meals, and tasty cocktails, you’ll have a chance to connect with fellow winter adventurers.

To stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge book online or call 866. GEYSERLAND. They’ll want to know how you are getting there, so be sure to check into snow coach reservations as well. If you plan on entering by a Xanterra coach, the lodging reservations folks should be able to help you.

Be sure to make dinner reservations at the Obsidian Dining Room when you make your hotel reservations. They are required and they fill up fast!

For a more adventurous stay in Yellowstone, check out the Yurt Camp at Canyon.

blue hot spring surrounded by snow and dead trees in yellowstone winter

Winter Weather and Packing For Old Faithful

Prepare for cold temperatures and ample snowfall. Layering is key, so pack thermal clothing, insulated outerwear, waterproof boots, gloves, and a warm hat. Don’t forget essentials like sunglasses, sunscreen, and a refillable water bottle.

I have a detailed packing list for you right here: Winter Yellowstone Packing List

Woman skis over the firehole river near the lower geyser basin at Old Faithful

Ski Shuttles Around Old Faithful

Some trails are machine groomed, while others are skier tracked. Check the website for up-to-date trail conditions or ask at the Bear Den Ski Shop.

A few ski shuttles leave from the Snow Lodge daily to Fairy Falls and Spring Creek/Divide Trail.

Sign up for a shuttle online up to a year in advance. If you don’t care where the shuttle goes, sign up as soon as possible to guarantee a seat. Bear Den Ski Shop 307.545.4825

Xanterra also runs day tours to Canyon from the Snow Lodge. These trips include great skiing, an interpretive guide, and lunch.

cross country skiing in yellowstone national park

Wildlife Viewing at Old Faithful in Winter

Winter’s scarcity of foliage makes wildlife spotting a thrilling experience. Bison, elk, wolves, and bald eagles gather near geothermal areas and rivers, creating unforgettable wildlife-watching opportunities.

We’ve seen bison and wolf prints right on the ski trails. At night, you can sometimes hear wolves howling.

Remember to keep a respectful distance and use binoculars or a telephoto lens for a safe encounter. If there is a bison or any other animal on or near a trail, turn around or give it a very wide berth.

bison in snow on a visit to old faithful in winter

Geothermal Wonders at Old Faithful Geyser Basins in Winter

The surreal marriage of geothermal features and winter’s icy embrace is truly enchanting. Hot springs surrounded by delicate frost formations and geysers spouting against a backdrop of pristine snow make for a photographer’s dream. Witness the captivating dance of steam and ice that transforms the landscape into a living art installation.

You can ski, walk, or snowshoe around the geyser basins at Old Faithful.

geyser erupting in Yellowstone in winter

Old Faithful Geyser in Winter

There is something extra special about seeing Old Faithful geyser erupt in winter. If you time it right, you may be the only person there. The geyser’s reliable timetable persists through winter, with eruptions creating a mesmerizing contrast against the snowy surroundings. The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center provides insightful programs that delve into the geyser’s geological wonders.

The busiest time at Old Faithful in winter is around 10 am – 2 pm when the day trips visit. Mornings and evenings are generally pretty quiet.

See also: Top Things To Do in Yellowstone in Winter

wolf track in snow in yellowstone national park

More Tips for Visiting Yellowstone

How to plan your winter in Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park. Getting there, staying there, where to eat, and what to do. How to plan your winter in Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park. Getting there, staying there, where to eat, and what to do.