A Yellowstone winter family vacation is one you certainly won’t forget.
The park’s snow-capped mountains, steaming geysers, and frozen waterfalls create a picturesque setting that is unlike anything else. Celebrate Christmas in Yellowstone at one of these cozy Yellowstone winter cabins to add to the magic of the season.
Top Winter Cabins near Yellowstone
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
- Pahaska Tepee Resort
- Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel
- Kodiak Mountain Resort
- Brooks Lake Lodge
- Dornan’s Spur Ranch
Christmas at Yellowstone Snow Lodges: Is December a Good Time to Visit Yellowstone?
December offers the chance for an intimate experience at Yellowstone National Park. With the hustle and bustle of the summer tourism season at an end, Yellowstone becomes a quiet, secluded holiday destination for you and your loved ones. The park is a real-life snow globe, receiving an average of 150 inches each year.
Besides offering up classic winter fun like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, this wintery weather drives wildlife such as wolves, coyotes, and bison down to the open meadows along the roads, making them easier to spot.
Another reason December is a good time to visit Yellowstone? Holiday activities range from a century-old tree lighting tradition to a New Year’s party that watches water shoot up instead of a ball drop down.
These events will help your Christmas in Yellowstone feel extra festive:
- Christmas Eve candlelight service – Mammoth Chapel
- Tree Lighting – Officer’s Row
- Holiday Dinner – Old Faithful Snow Lodge
- Christmas at Lamar – Lamar Buffalo Ranch
- Old Faithful New Year’s Eve – Old Faithful
- New Year’s Day Wildlife Watching – Lamar Buffalo Ranch
Average Yellowstone Weather in December
You’re just about guaranteed a white Christmas in Yellowstone. But how cold does the park get? Yellowstone weather in December averages a high of 24 degrees F, a low of -3 degrees F, and about 72 inches of snow, making snuggling by that fire feel extra delightful. You can expect colder temperatures and more snowfall in higher elevations.
Accessing Yellowstone in the Winter
With the Yellowstone weather in December (and all winter long) averaging so much snow, accessing the park this time of year requires booking a unique experience.
Entering the park from Yellowstone’s east entrance (50 miles west of Cody, WY) or south entrance (40 miles north of Jackson, WY) must be done via snowmobile or snow coach. The north entrance (90 miles from Bozeman, MT), is accessible by car, but to go anywhere beyond Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins you will need to book the same type of transportation.
As every adventurer knows, the journey is often more memorable than the destination. Imagine seeing steaming geysers or spotting a snow-covered bison from the comfort of a heated shuttle equipped with massive snow tires or snow tracks. These snow coaches can be booked as shuttles to and from the park’s winter lodging or as tours to popular destinations within the park. If you’re up for an even bigger adventure, consider booking a snowmobile tour.
Yellowstone Winter Cabins and Lodges: The 7 Best Places to Stay
Craving a quintessential Christmas, complete with snow, decked halls, and cozy accommodations? A Yellowstone winter cabin is sure to hit the spot. Whether you spend Christmas in a Yellowstone lodge or a nearby resort, these seven places to stay offer up big winter fun in a cozy cabin setting.
1. Old Faithful Snow Lodge
A Christmas at this Yellowstone snow lodge is one you won’t soon forget. Take a snow coach shuttle (think a shuttle bus on massive tires or tracks like a snowmobile) along Yellowstone’s snow-covered landscapes to get to these secluded Yellowstone winter cabins near Old Faithful. Once you’ve arrived, gather your family around the lobby’s fireplace to enjoy a festive Christmas tree and warm conversation. The lobby also offers puzzles, space for board games, and a place to meet before venturing to the dining room, bar, gift shop or cross-country ski and snowshoe rental facility.
Wildlife tours shuttle to popular ski and snowshoe areas and scenic tours are all available directly from Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Or stay closer to that crackling lobby fireplace by exploring trails just outside your cabin’s doors and a festive outdoor ice skating rink.
Rooms are available within the main lodge, as duplex-style cabins, and as four-plex-style cabins, allowing accommodations ideal for a Yellowstone winter family vacation.
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2. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins
NOTE: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins is closed for the 2022-2023 winter season.
This hotel in northern Yellowstone can be accessed by vehicle from the park’s north entrance (90 miles south of Bozeman, MT). Originally built with a Queen Ann style in 1883, you’ll find an elegant charm throughout the hotel and cabins. Enjoy cozying up by the lobby’s fireplace and perfectly adorned Christmas tree. Or gather your family in the Map Room for board games and conversation with live piano music filling the background.
Snow coach tours can be booked through the resort, allowing you to see and explore even more of the park. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can find rentals, lessons, tips, and tours at the Bear Den, located within the hotel’s gift shop.
When you’re finished with your adventure, relax in a deluxe hotel room or a suite, which includes a separate bedroom with two queen beds and a sitting area with a couch, lounge chair, and satellite TV (one of the only accommodations in the park with a television). The hotel also offers four hot tub cabins, which each feature a private 6-person hot tub for the ultimate Yellowstone winter cabin experience.
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3. Pahaska Tepee Resort
Situated between Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance and Cody, WY, Pahaska Tepee Resort is a fun winter lodging option if you don’t require all the amenities of a hotel. The resort doesn’t offer access to its bar, restaurant or equipment rentals in the winter, but its proximity to Yellowstone and other winter recreation makes this lodging option worthwhile.
Miles of groomed cross-country ski trails for both classic and skate skiers can be accessed just outside your cabin door at Pahaska. If you prefer downhill skiing, Sleeping Giant Ski Area is just minutes from the resort, offering affordable lift tickets for skiers of all abilities.
Winter lodging is limited at Pahaska, so the resort recommends calling in advance if you’re interested in renting one of their smaller cabins. If you have a large group, the Reunion Lodge is available year-round. The perfect way to host a Yellowstone winter family vacation, this large, two-story lodge offers seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms to comfortably welcome a group of 22. Oversized windows with a stunning view of the Wapiti Valley, a community space centered around a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a hot tub room, satellite TV, and other modern amenities make this western-style cabin a destination your family will talk about for years to come.
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4. Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel
Journey back in time to the Wild West with a stay at this hotel built by Buffalo Bill Cody. The hotel has served as a place of good cheer and neighborliness since opening its doors in 1902, making it an ideal destination to celebrate the holidays with those you love most. From the hotel restaurant’s cherrywood barback gifted to Buffalo Bill Cody by Queen Victoria to the Victorian-style rooms that hosted princes, pioneers, and Indian chiefs, this hotel’s historic charm will deliver a traditional Christmas sure to make every spirit bright.
In December, you’ll find the Irma adorned with festive tinsel, ornaments, and lights. More holiday fun awaits in the town of Cody with a Cody Trolley Holiday Lights Tour, a rendition of The Nutcracker at the Cody Theatre or a holiday tour at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
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5. Kodiak Mountain Resort
Rustic charm meets modern amenities at this luxury resort in Wyoming’s Star Valley. Private, log-style cabins range from a romantic couple’s retreat to family cabins that can sleep six. No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to relax near a gas fireplace, soak in a large tub, watch your favorite holiday movie on a 55” smart TV or fill the space with Christmas music while enjoying views of the Salt River Range. During the holiday season, the main lodge is adorned with lights, stockings, and garland to make your Christmas merry and bright.
Located in Afton, WY, Kodiak Mountain Resort is 150 miles south of Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance, or 76 miles south of Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. This quiet part of Wyoming is known for its snowmobiling, which you can take full advantage of by booking a riding clinic with an expert through the resort. When you’ve had your fill of outdoor adventure, book an appointment at the resort’s Blissful Bear Spa for the ultimate restorative experience.
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6. Brooks Lake Lodge
This all-inclusive resort in Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains features fine dining, a spa, exciting winter activities, and gorgeous log-style cabin rooms to give you an authentic Western experience. Choose from a variety of rooms within the main lodge or book a private cabin, complete with a wood-burning stove, for the ultimate cozy experience with the whole family. Wherever you stay, views of forests, alpine lakes, and the Absaroka Mountains are just out your door.
Brooks Lake Lodge is located in Dubois WY, about 88 miles southwest of Yellowstone National Park, or 52 miles west of Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. The resort offers a variety of winter activities, including snowmobiling, skiing, and wildlife excursions, as part of your stay. Whether you venture to the national parks or stay closer to your cabin, you’ll be sure to have a memorable experience.
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7. Dornan’s Spur Ranch
This family-owned resort just outside of Grand Teton National Park features 12 log-style cabins complete with hand-crafted lodgepole pine furniture. One-bedroom cabins are ideal for couples looking for a winter getaway, while two-bedroom duplex cabins are perfect for families. Each cabin has a fully equipped kitchen, including a gas range and full-size refrigerator. Similar to most Wyoming national park lodging, TVs aren’t part of this rustic cabin experience, giving you more time to enjoy incredible views of the Snake River and Teton Mountain Range.
In the winter, this resort features a grocery store, gift shop, wine shop, restaurant, and mountain-view bar all within its 10-acre complex. Cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals are available at the Trading Post, allowing you to experience the beauty of Grand Teton National Park along snow-covered roads. Take the scenic 45-mile drive north to Yellowstone or head 12 miles south to Jackson to find even more to do.
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Plan Your Next Yellowstone Winter Holiday
Start planning your next Yellowstone winter family vacation today with more resources from TravelWyoming.com.