Backcountry Situation Report


Last Updated: November 8th, 2021

The backcountry office is minimally staffed over the winter. Winter permits must be reserved with the Central Backcountry Office 3 -7 days in advance. Currently there are no locations open for in-person permits. Please also note, that the majority of the park's roads are currently closed to wheeled vehicle traffic and many of the park's trailheads are inaccessible. Please review the Roads page to review road closing dates and locations.

This Backcountry Situation report will not be regularly updated throughout the winter. Up to date conditions will start back up in early May. Before heading out on the trail, please review the Winter Backcountry Camping Page, Explore in Winter page, Winter Safety Page, current avalanche conditions, and road conditions.

General Information

Backcountry Permits:

Backcountry Permits are required for all overnight stays in the Backcountry. Please review our Winter Camping Page for information on how to obtain a backcountry permit during the months of November through early April.

  • Due to extreme temperatures and weather conditions overnight winter trips should be attempted only by experienced winter backpackers/skiers and well-equipped parties.

Backcountry Closures: There are a couple of backcountry closures located in the Northern Section of the park. Please review closure maps for Stephen's Creek Closure and McMinn Bench.

Bear Management Areas:
Before heading out into the backcountry please review Yellowstone's Bear Management Areas and how they may effect your travel. Some bear management areas have area closures, some restrict travel to trails.

Backcountry Access

Review the park roads page, and / or learn about the non-commercially guided snow mobile access program.

See our Ski and Snowshoeing page for ski trail descriptions.

Want to hire a guide? See snowmobile/ snow coach tours, or ski tours available for hire.

Backcountry Conditions:

  • Backcountry conditions are not updated over the winter. All trails are currently snow covered. Snow conditions vary widely across the park. (12/19/20)
  • The fishing and boating seasons have closed for the year. Fishing will reopen the Saturday of Memorial Day.(11/2/20)

Review safe winter travel techniques. Check this map to get an idea of current snow depths.

For the most up to date ski conditions visit Yellowstone National Park Lodges website . Once their ski shop is open (around December 15th) they will have the most up-to-date trail and grooming conditions.

Yellowstone does not have its own avalanche report but there are several avalanche reports near our region that you
can reference. Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center or Bridger Teton National Avalanche Center

Wildlife & Pets

Survival during the long winter is difficult for wildlife. Human contact only adds unnecessary stress. Avoid approaching or startling any animals or birds. Exercise extreme caution in bear and mountain lion country.

With exception of service animals, pets are not allowed on trails, unplowed roads, in the backcountry, or off leash. Dog sledding and ski-joring are prohibited.

Do not leave food unattended at any time. All food, trash, and odorous items must be properly stored (hung 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from side supports or kept in one of the installed metal bear proof boxes, or an approved bear resistant food container) whenever the items are not in immediate use. See the list of bear resistant food containers (canisters, panniers, and coolers) that are approved for use in Yellowstone;s backcountry.

On March 10th, several Bear Management Areas go into effect. if you are traveling during that time make sure to familiarize yourself with these closures.

Other Notable Regulations

  • Fires are not allowed in the backcountry during the winter.
  • Bicycles including bicycles modified for oversnow travel, are prohibited on oversnow routes.

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Beyond Roads End


Contact Us

Please email the Central Backcountry Office if you have any questions about specific areas.


More Information

Last updated: March 28, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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