|North Entrance, Montana|
Prior to planning this trip, I wasn’t aware that Yellowstone remains open in the winter. In fact, the North and NorthEast East entrances are open to cars (this is a lower elevation than the southern parts of the park and generally receives less snow). This allows for direct access to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, which, in the winter, is sparsely booked and it’s a great time to avoid the crowds (as well as get in from the cold). From here, the Old Faithful Geiser Basin is available by only snowcoach, and rooms and cabins there are also readily available.
There are knowledgable, local guides available to help get you access to wildlife. However, though extremely helpful, they can be fairly expensive. Due to the extreme conditions and deep snow, they also do not generally leave the roads so they can’t really give you more physical access than you would normally have. However, their knowledge is quite valuable and they are in communication with the wolf tracking researchers and have access to knowing where the morning wolf kills are located. Note that, through no fault of the guides, wolves are fairly difficult to locate, at least at close distance. Unless you get very lucky (which does happen), photo opportunities will most likely only be available at great distance and most viewings are only possible via a spotting scope. If you’re on a budget, a good plan is to hire a guide for a day or two, learn what they do and where they go, and then venture out on your own after that.
Bozeman Airport is the closest airport to the North Entrance.
A company called Xanterra runs the snowcoach operations. This requires advance reservations and early bookings as the runs to Old Faithful are infrequent and fill up quickly. Xanterra: 307-344-7311.
Xanterra also runs the lodges
There are snowshoe and cross-country skis available for rent at Old Faithful, so it’s not necessary to bring your own.
I highly recommend MacNiel Lyons, one of the guides we used. His company is called Yellowstone Insight. He was both very knowledgeable and affable and was a perfect fit for our crew.