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 snowcoach 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.
Getting to Old Faithful
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 to Old Faithful, a snowcoach is your best bet. Snowmobile tours leave from Old Faithful for day trippers.
Staying at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
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. Just outside the Snow Lodge, you’ll find and ice skating rink and free ice skates to borrow.
To stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge log onto Xanterra’s website or call 866. GEYSERLAND. They’ll want to know how you are getting there, so be sure to check into snowcoach 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 fill up fast!
For a more adventurous stay in Yellowstone, check out the Yurt Camp at Canyon.
Ski Shuttles Around Old Faithful
Some trails are machine groomed, while others are skier tracked. Check the website for up-to-date trail conditions.
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.