The Old Faithful region has various features, such as overwintering wildlife, a thermally heated river, and three geyser basins. Additionally, a few hotels in the area, including the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, remain operational in the winter. Unfortunately, from mid-November to late April, the roads leading to Old Faithful are off-limits to private cars, and therefore visitors often wonder how to get to the Snow Lodge.
West Yellowstone at the West Entrance or Flagg Ranch adjacent to the South Entrance are the nearest places you can drive to. Beyond this, a snow coach or snowmobile (or Mammoth) can only reach Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Commercial snow coaches and snowmobiles can use the route if they sign up for a snowmobile tour or have the necessary documentation.
Despite the potential cost associated with visiting and staying in Old Faithful, the experience of being surrounded by the captivating winter landscape of Wonderland makes the expense worthwhile.
Please read this article for more information.
Getting To Old Faithful During Winter
At the onset of winter, typically in early November, most park roads leading to Yellowstone National Park are closed to regular traffic. This precautionary measure aims to ensure visitor safety during the winter season. However, the road connecting Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance remains open all year round.
Subsequently, once sufficient snow accumulates, typically around mid-December, the park roads are exclusively made available for “over snow” travel. It indicates that the only means of accessing the popular winter destination Old Faithful of the Yellowstone is through guided snowmobile or snow coach tours or the non-commercially guided snowmobile program.
It is essential to note that visitors must adhere to winter travel hours from 7 am to 9 pm. While this may appear restrictive, it is a precautionary measure to safeguard the visitors’ well-being and allow necessary maintenance work to occur during non-visiting hours.
Watch this video to see a glimpse of how Old Faithful looks in winter:
How To Access Non-Commercially Guided Snowmobile Program?
Yellowstone National Park offers the Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program, which permits visitors to snowmobile within the park without a commercial guide. Each day, the park allows up to four non-commercially guided groups to enter through each over-snow entrance.
Individuals must be 18 years old to apply to become a non-commercial snowmobile guide. The allocation of permits is conducted through a lottery system hosted on Recreation.gov. Applicants must pay a $6 application fee and the daily permit fee of $40. The lottery application period commences from August 1st to 31st, and successful applicants are notified by mid-September.
Unclaimed or canceled permits are made available on a first-come, first-served basis from October 1st. There is no permit waiting list, and cancellations may occur throughout the winter.
Moreover, visitors are allowed to include the names of friends and family members accompanying them when they apply or at the entrance on the day of the trip. It ensures that visitors can share the experience with their loved ones while enjoying the thrilling snowmobiling activity in the pristine surroundings of Yellowstone National Park.
What Are The Rules And Regulations For Non-Commercial Guides?
It is the responsibility of non-commercial guides to ensure that all members of their group comply with park regulations. Therefore, non-commercial guides should know about snowmobile safety, general first aid, repair, park road system, and regulations.
Moreover, it is essential to note that non-commercial guides cannot charge a fee for their services, as these trips are intended for friends and family groups only. Besides, the maximum group size is five snowmobiles per permit. Moreover, all snowmobiles must be registered and certified to meet the National Park Service (NPS) requirements for New Best Available Technology (BAT).
It is prohibited to use side-by-side machines with tracks. Visitors can rent BAT snowmobiles from local businesses. Furthermore, non-commercial guides can lead a maximum of two trips per winter season. It is because thousands of tourists desire to visit the place. Therefore, the management has to cater to everyone.
Additionally, you are looking forward to leading an overnight trip with a maximum duration of three days and two nights. In that case, you must acquire a multi-day permit through the lottery system.
Lastly, all snowmobile operators must:
- be at least 16 years of age on the first day of the trip;
- hold a valid driver’s license;
- pass the Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification course.
Stay At Old Faithful Snow Lodge And Cabins
To spend the winter months at Old Faithful, visitors are required to book accommodations at the Snow Lodge and Cabins. The Snow Lodge is a comfortable yet straightforward hotel that boasts a range of amenities, including a dining room, bar, gift shop, and ski store. The spacious and inviting lobby is ideal for unwinding, engaging in board games, or sipping hot cocoa while taking in the serene surroundings.
Adjacent to the Snow Lodge, visitors can enjoy an ice skating rink with complimentary ice skates available for borrowing. This winter recreational activity offers an opportunity for visitors to engage in a fun-filled outdoor activity while surrounded by the breathtaking natural beauty of Old Faithful.
Ski Shuttle Around Old Faithful
Specific trails within the park are maintained by machine grooming, while others are designated for skier tracks. The Snow Lodge offers limited ski shuttles to two popular destinations, Fairy Falls and Spring Creek/Divide Trail. However, advanced online registration is required for these shuttles and is available up to one year in advance.
Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful region remains a popular destination for visitors, even during winter. From mid-November to late April, the only means of accessing Old Faithful Snow Lodge have guided snowmobile or snow coach tours or the non-commercially guided snowmobile program.
To enjoy the winter months at Old Faithful, visitors can book accommodations at the Snow Lodge and Cabins and engage in winter recreational activities such as ice skating and skiing.