Winter can be that time of year when you yield to the elements and decide there’s nothing better to do than curl up indoors where it’s warm. Or you might see it as an opportunity to experience a world that can become transformed in some places.
It can be a long trip, but a visit to Yellowstone National Park in the winter can provide a unique experience. Along the way, there are also some areas you may want to visit – a refuge for migratory birds, and one of the country’s last family-owned ski resorts in Logan, Utah.
So before you head out for what could be an extended winter vacation, pack the right gear, lock up and double-check your home. Make sure you secure your garage door and repair any necessary fixtures. You don’t want to come home to find that your pipes are frozen, doors stuck, or worse, broken into.
Yellowstone National Park
Many of us have visited Yellowstone – or have it somewhere on the bucket list. It is one of the world’s great natural wonders. People visit for the harsh beauty of its scenery, the power of Old Faithful, and the chance to observea variety of wildlife.
But the majority of people visit Yellowstone in the summer months, and what you don’t see in all those gorgeous photos is the effort it takes to angle for the shot amid crowds of fellow tourists. Wildlife can also be driven away by all the activity.
Visiting Yellowstone in winter arguably brings you closer to its essence. With only two lodging options and limited land transportation due to snow, the experience becomes much more serene and intimate without losing any of its majesty.
Snow transforms the entire landscape, combining with steam to form surreal scenery. Old Faithful erupts into geyser rain which falls as ice crystals. More animals flee the cold heights and roam freely across the park with so few people around.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
The Bear River feeds the Great Salt Lake, and the bird refuge here is a well-known local spot for birding and photography. A side trip here can reward you with sightings of another American icon; bald eagles and other predatory birds spend the winter here, leaving the cold north in search of prey.
Beaver Mountain Ski Resort
For a break from wildlife spotting, stop by this small ski resort – one of the oldest family-owned ski resorts in the country. The slopes are well-maintained and offer a variety of challenges for different skill levels. It is considered a favorite ‘secret attraction’ by locals for the family atmosphere and affordable rates.
Known for its fishing and water activities, Bear Lake in winter offers the chance to experience ice fishing and sledding. You can also ride a snowmobile along hundreds of miles of trail, or go cross-country skiing.
These are just a small sample of things you can do differently when winter comes around. It can be hard to leave the comforts of home in the cold months, and you’ll need to be fully prepared for personal safety and take measures for your home security while you’re gone. But once you get going, you’ll find that the season rewards those who make an effort with amazing experiences and activities that simply aren’t there during the rest of the year.