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Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

California
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Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

Hi,

I'm syncing up with some friends in Jackson Hole two days after Christmas for a few days of resort and backcountry skiing. I have almost of week of time to kill before that and was trying to think of somewhat adventurous things to do beforehand.

I'm currently thinking about flying into Bozeman, MT and getting a shuttle to Yellowstone where I would spend a night at Mammoth Hot Spring and two nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge (I have a reservation for both places but can cancel) before catching the snow-coach to the South Entrance and heading on to Jackson. I was mainly planning on just cross-country skiing for those days (I gather there isn't much AT skiing opportunities in the park). I may then spend a day or two doing some guided backcountry skiing in the Tetons.

I've been to Yellowstone/Tetons in the summer but never in the winter and was wondering whether there are other alternatives I should be exploring in the area.

I also read about Yellowstone Excursions (http://yellowstoneexpeditions.com/) which do cross-country ski trips from their yurt camp. Additionally there seems to be some cross-country skiing around West Yellowstone and I could base myself their instead of spending 3 nights in the park.

I would appreciate any feedback or ideas about where's the best place to stay to ski and explore the area. I'm in my mid-thirties traveling alone and like adventurous things so I'm a little concern spending 4 days/3 nights in a family friendly Xanterra environment (I have mixed feelings about NP concessionaires) may be too much.

Thanks

-John

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
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21,019 posts
109 reviews
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1. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

Two nights at Old Faithful really just gives you one full day to explore. The geyser basins are amazing in winter. I would stay with the original plan, but I love geysers!

Here is a link to the Rendezvous ski area in West Yellowstone.

http://www.rendezvousskitrails.com/

I am not sure what you mean by AT skiing?

My thought is that where you stay depends on your goal. Are you there to enjoy Yellowstone or is your main goal to XC ski? My goal would be to see Yellowstone, but then I love the park and am a less than able XC skier. Your goal may be very different!

You may have seen this link on the NPS Yellowstone page, which gives the trail maps for each area.

www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/skiyell.htm

Pam

Edited: 04 November 2013, 17:36
California
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2. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

Hey Pam,

Thanks for your suggestions. AT = Alpine Touring, i.e., it's a ski setup which allows for ascending/descending in the backcountry. I gather though most of the terrain around Mammoth and Old Faithful is fairly flat and hence cross-country skiing is probably more optimal.

I think I can only get two nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge as it's booked out for Christmas eve/day.

-John

Driggs, Idaho
Destination Expert
for Grand Teton National Park
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3,429 posts
73 reviews
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3. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

The only bc skiing I've heard of friends doing in YNP is Avalanche Peak, which would be accessible from the East Entrance. Guides out of Cody could probably tell you more. That might be quite a trip considering you would still need to be on a snowmobile to get to the trail head. I have not done it but perhaps something to explore if you are really set on skiing in the bc. I'm sure there is more but I gave up that activity 7 years ago.

if you want to see Old Faithful in the Winter, your trip sounds like a good one. But if you are after more bc ski adventures that are not Nordic, I'd look into Togwotee Pass area. I'm sure you'll reference the Bridger-Teton Avalanche center ahead of time, and go prepared. A slide injured someone just this past Friday in this area. But a lot of people safely enjoy it. You'll be sharing the area w/sleds (snowmobiles) though.

Funny story - last time I xc skied at Old Faithful, we got dropped off 10 miles from the lodge to ski back. I find downhill skiing in xc skis difficult and there were a lot of hills. My husband, an avid AT skier, but first time on xc skis, got bored waiting for me to get out of a tricky spot so he started tele-skiing down a nearby hill, in his skinny skis. Pretty funny lol, but maddening for me at the time given that I was having trouble getting around and I was the “xc skier”. It is a pretty cool experience to be dropped off 10 miles N or S of the lodge to ski back – maybe take some time at Lone Star Geyer. You might be lucky enough to see it go off in the solitude of winter.

Edited: 04 November 2013, 19:54
California
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4. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

Yeah I looked on the Summit Post website and it seems like access to Avalanche Peak it somewhat of an ordeal. I'm happy to do some cross-country skiing and it sounds like even though the terrain may be a little gentle the scenery, geysers and wildlife is awesome especially without all the summer crowds.

California
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5. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

So I pulled the trigger and currently have 1 night at Mammoth and 3 nights at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone. I think I'm probably just going to cross country ski there but will also have my backcountry setup.

Given how the snow shuttles work (and the fact that it gets dark pretty early) I'm really just spending the night in Mammoth and have no time to explore the area. I have about 2 1/2 days around Old Faithful.

Should I change this to spend 2 nights at Mammoth so I have 1 full day there and 1 1/2 days at Old Faithful? Is there enough decent cross country skiing around Mammoth? I've been to both places but only in the summer.

USA
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9,465 posts
44 reviews
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6. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

jbodley, If you go to the trip report archive, thbergs has an 8 pt report with photos beneath of their Jan 2013 trip with xc skiing OF area. Just scroll down to 2013.

BlueBird, my tele hubby has done the same thing with me on both our bc & xc skis & even our skate ski no less, so I can relate! Darn 'em!

Edited: 17 December 2013, 01:49
California
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7. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

Thanks for the message. Will check it out.

8. Re: Ideas for exploring Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP at Christmas

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