North America Vacation
Montana Winter | Yellowstone & Big Sky
Experience a winter wonderland in the mountains and the world’s first national park!
6 Days / 5 Nights
Activity LevelActivity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
There’s something magical about being surrounded by shimmering snow in the crisp winter air while viewing majestic ice-capped mountains. On this trip you’ll not only have the chance to feel like you’re in a real-life snowglobe, but also get to snowshoe, ski, and travel by dogsled and horse-drawn sleigh for a true winter adventure through Montana’s famous Big Sky and Wyoming’s famed Yellowstone National Park. For winter photography and sports fanatics, this vacation package concentrated around the Montana-Wyoming border offers it all and more.
Follow your guides as they give you an insider’s look at wintertime in the countryside and beyond. Enter into Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park, through the original entrance just past the enchanting Paradise Valley in Montana. Watch the steam rise from Mammoth Hot Springs’ travertine terraces. Keep your eyes peeled for Yellowstone’s wildlife, their breath billowing in the winter air as they wander the terrain. Snowshoe atop the deep snow in Lamar Valley before strapping on cross country skis, gliding your way to dazzling scenes in multiple locations. Get whisked away on a backcountry dog sled tour and a relaxing horse-drawn sleigh ride. When you’re not out traversing the winter-clad wilderness, relax and warm up at your cozy lodging located in Gardiner as well as a ski lodge resort in Big Sky.
- Absorb illuminating facts and view pieces of history at the Museum of the Rockies, recognized as one of the world’s finest research and history museums
- Journey along Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs where steam rises in the chilly air from the orange, yellow, and white travertine terraces
- Leave behind yeti-sized footprints in the snow as you trek across Lamar Valley on snowshoes
- Glide along the Tower Fall trail on cross country skis beneath basalt lava cliffs along the glistening Yellowstone River
- Explore Big Sky*, a winter sports guru’s fantasy land, on snowshoes for outstanding wintery mountain landscapes
- Have fun with a pack of sled dogs as you venture on their tour through a snowy backcountry route
- Sit back on a horse-drawn sleigh ride leading you to a cozy cabin lit by oil lanterns
* Big Sky Ski Resort is home to the “Biggest Skiing in America” at 5,850+ skiable acres. You might consider extending your trip to include a day or two of skiing on your own. Please talk to your Adventure Consultant for details.
A few more reasons why you’ve gotta go:
Intimate Yellowstone National Park experience with fewer crowds and off-the-beaten-path winter adventures
Adventure-filled time around Big Sky, a not-to-be-missed winter sports hub
Authentic countryside activities on snowy backcountry trails with mountainous backgrounds
Bozeman, Montana BZN
Bozeman, Montana BZN
Bozeman / Mammoth Hot Springs / Gardiner
Meet in Bozeman and shuttle a short distance to the Museum of the Rockies, recognized as one of the world’s finest research and history museums. After you’ve had your fill of checking out all the neat displays, the group will head to lunch at one of Bozeman’s many restaurants. A 1.5-hour transfer through beautiful Paradise Valley eventually brings us to the original entrance of Yellowstone, where we’ll enter in to our world’s first national park under the Roosevelt Arch. This afternoon, we walk among the steaming orange, yellow, and white travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs before making our way back down to Gardiner to check into our hotel. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together in small town Montana.
About the Ridgeline at Yellowstone
The Ridgeline Hotel is located in Gardiner, Montana just outside the north entrance of the Park on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Within walking distance to just about any restaurant in Gardiner, this is the perfect accommodation to spend exploring small town Montana. After a day on the trails, enjoy a comfortable bed and the whirlpool tubs or sauna.
Lamar Valley / Cooke City / Gardiner
We depart at sunrise to enter into Yellowstone on the lookout for wildlife standing out against a snowy backdrop. We make our way to Yellowstone’s famed Lamar Valley, “The Serengeti of the West”, where we keep an eye open for wolves, bison, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. Eventually, we leave Yellowstone via the Northeast Entrance, where the tiny town of Cooke City resides, home to nearly 100 hardy, year-round residents. Here, we’ll enjoy brunch at a local café before making our way back into Lamar Valley for our afternoon activity. Strap on snowshoes for a quiet walk through lodgepole pine forests as we leave behind yeti-sized footprints in the deep snow. Late afternoon, we drive back to Gardiner for a chance to relax before meeting up for dinner at a local restaurant.
Tower Fall / Gardiner
After breakfast, we drive into Yellowstone for the last time on this trip to the Tower Fall trailhead. Here, we click on our cross country skis for a quick lesson and then we whisk off for a scenic ski to Tower Fall. Along the way, you’ll glide under basalt lava cliffs with views of the Yellowstone River running through Black Canyon. Upon arrival to Tower Fall, we’ll view the 132-foot drop and the unusual rock columns before settling in for a wintry picnic lunch. The ski back to the trailhead is mostly downhill and a quick trip to our ending point. After driving back to Gardiner, enjoy some time to yourself before dinner with the group.
Gardiner / Big Sky
This morning after breakfast, we hit the road to transfer to Big Sky, Montana via Bozeman (3 hours + stops). Upon arrival to Big Sky, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before heading out on a snowshoe excursion to explore the local area. Big Sky is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts and we’ll be sure to take advantage of the different activities on offer in this breathtaking winter wonderland. This afternoon, we check into our hotel, Huntley Lodge, where all the action is happening at the base of the ski resort. Tonight, enjoy a dinner on your own within walking distance of the lodge.
About Huntley Lodge
Located in the heart of Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village, this traditional slope-side ski lodge was part of the late NBC News broadcaster Chet Huntley’s original vision for Big Sky Resort. The 200-room resort features old-time charms but receives continual care and upkeep. Boyne Beds – known for their overstuff mattresses, quality bedding and pillows – are a mainstay in each room. Huntley Lodge guests can enjoy the pool and hot tubs as well as easy access to dining and shopping.
This morning, we embark on a dog sled tour through the wintry backcountry, with views of majestic snow-covered mountains and frost-laden pines as your backdrop. After this one-of-a- kind experience, warm up and enjoy a tasty lunch at a nearby restaurant. This afternoon, we strap on our cross-country skis again for a glide along the ski trails of the Meadow Village. We end our trip tonight with a horse-drawn sleigh ride to an oil-lantern-lit cabin for a family-style prime rib dinner.
Arrival & Departure
Please plan on arriving at least one day prior to your trip departure. Day one of your itinerary starts at 8:30 or 8:45 am, depending on your hotel. Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Bozeman airport (12:00 pm) or your Bozeman hotel (12:30 pm). Please make flights for 1:30 PM or later.
Snowshoeing: 1.5 miles to 3 miles, easy to moderate terrain, no experience necessary.
Cross-Country Skiing: 3 to 5 miles, easy to moderate terrain, no experience necessary.
Dogsledding: Professional mushers will provide instruction and a safety talk as well as accompany guests throughout the morning tour.
Discovery: To visit Yellowstone in the months of November to March is to uncover a whole different side to our world’s first national park…without the crowds! Mid-winter, Yellowstone morphs into a stunning wonderland, complete with snow-laden pines, frozen waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. In the winter, the northern one-third of the park, especially Lamar Valley, is home to wolves, bison, elk, coyotes, and mule deer, who are driven from the deep snow of the forests and upper elevations to forage and hunt for food in the open meadows near the road, creating optimal wildlife viewing opportunities for visitors. Also featured on this trip is Big Sky, Montana, home to the “Biggest Skiing in America.” While you won’t downhill ski on this adventure, you’ll have a chance to leave the ski throngs behind as you cross-country ski, snowshoe or dogsled quiet backcountry trails with your knowledgeable, local guide team. Come to Montana mid-winter to discover a quiet side that most visitors never get to experience!
Austin Adventures guides are experienced facilitators and regional experts. They will take the time to explain the details of each activity, answer any questions and demonstrate the use of all equipment. Each activity has been carefully planned to include options for all levels. Most importantly, Austin Adventures guides will help you select the distance that’s right for you.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions – except one dinner on your own – are included as indicated by itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in Trip Price
- Double occupancy rooms with private baths.
- All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, except one dinner on own your own, refreshments and receptions.
- Fully trained, first-aid certified professional guides and knowledgeable local partners.
- Any necessary equipment – all safe and well maintained
- Vehicle support and land transportation during the trip.
- Austin Adventures T-shirt, water bottle, luggage tags and luggage service.
- Pre-departure and packing information.
- Incidental expenses such as taxes, dining and housekeeping gratuities, local partner and expert gratuities and national park entrance and permit fees.
Not Included in Trip Price
- Gratuities to Austin Adventures guides.
- Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities.
- One dinner on your own.
- Pre-and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from host cities.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses.
- Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
- Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
As President at Austin Adventures, Kasey Austin can tell you the logistical ins and outs of every single trip. More than that, though, Kasey has lived and breathed most of the company’s featured destinations and will eagerly share her contagious passion for the transformational power of active travel. Kasey grew up in the adventure travel business; she knows the positive, lifelong impact of family travel, a quality that earned her the distinction of being named top family travel guide by Outside Magazine in 2014.