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Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone

Winter Beach...
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Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone
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8 day trip with 9 family members is coming up 12/11/2021 after almost a year of planning. We want to snowmobile outside the park, soak in hot springs, drive to Cooke City, and tour north Yellowstone via snow coach once park opens to over the snow vehicles. Any words of wisdom for a trip of this type?

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Montana
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1. Re: Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone
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If you plan to stay at Chico Hot Springs, book ASAP. Their online registration software is horrible and you have to call to get the cabins or houses. Mid-week may be your best chance.

Yellowstone Hot Springs doesn't have lodging but is a nice soak. It's also less insane with children on weekend afternoons than Chico.

If it is open, the Boiling River inside Yellowstone is a good soak. Be animal aware - I've had to stop on the path when challenged by a bull elk and on another trip everyone had to stay in the water for a half-hour because there was a buffalo hanging where you get out. Then there was the time a coyote went after a herd of deer on the path and it was a bit like being in a stampede.

Edited: 27 August 2021, 05:43
Winter Beach...
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2. Re: Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone
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Thank you! We have a private home rented, so we won't need housing at Chico, but are reservations needed just to soak mid-week? I would love to try boiling river, but the animal encounters sound a bit scary. If we get lucky and it is open while we're there, do you think that the animals will be that active in early December?

Edited: 27 August 2021, 07:58
Montana
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3. Re: Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone
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Check with Chico when it gets closer. During peak COVID last year they may have limited day passes.

All of those animals were encountered mid-winter but that was from a lot of trips. You’ll be fine if you are aware and respectful. Just remember, they are wild animals and can kill you. Don’t be a touron.

N. Idaho
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for Yellowstone National Park, Senior Travel
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4. Re: Mid-December Bozeman, Paradise Valley, and N Yellowstone
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Boiling River has been closed for this entire year and last year due to Covid. Here is the link to the official YNP website on Boiling River conditions so you can keep an eye on it. I seriously doubt they will open it this winter (they did not open last winter) and when I was there this summer they had staged a bunch of gravel piles in the parking lot which looked like it was for future road work.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

"and tour north Yellowstone via snow coach once park opens to over the snow vehicles. "

To me "north Yellowstone" is the road from Mammoth to the NE entrance. This road is accessible by wheeled vehicles all year and is never accessed by over the snow vehicles. The over the snow vehicles go south from Mammoth either to Canyon or Old Faithful for day trips so access the interior of the park.

I'm not sure you'll have good snowmobiling in the area this early. You ~might~ be able to snowmobile from Cooke City as it is higher in elevation and you have ready access to mountains. Have you talked with any of the snowmobile rental companies to see what they are advising for this early in the season? I'll add that I have NOT snowmobiled out of Gardiner or Cooke City. Of course it will really be dependent on how early winter comes!

Here is a link to general information on winter services in Yellowstone:

https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/visiting-yellowstone-in-winter.htm

Here is a link to the Xanterra (Yellowstone lodging provider) website with maps for snowshoeing and XC skiing. You can rent both from the Ski shop at the Mammoth Lodge starting Dec 15.

https://www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/adventures/winter-adventures/ski-trail-info-2/

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