Ski and Snowshoe Trail Information

 A lone skier glides along the boardwalk aroudn Grotto Geyser at sunset.
A lone skier at sunrise near Grotto Geyser.

NPS/Neal Herbert

 

Yellowstone offers a variety of enjoyable and challenging trails for skiers. The quality of your experience depends on the amount of planning and preparation you do prior to your trip. We suggest that you stop at a visitor center or ski shop and discuss your plans. The staff will be happy to provide current information on weather, trail, and snow conditions, and alert you to any special hazards. All trails are marked but may be untracked. On some trails, difficult sections can be avoided by skiing part way in and returning by the same route.

Trail Ratings
Trails are rated by the National Park Service with ratings specific to Yellowstone National Park. We strongly encourage all skiers to inquire at a visitor center or Yellowstone Park Lodges Ski Shop before beginning their first ski trip. Weather conditions may cause icy trails, deep snow, or barren sections, and in some instances make trails difficult to follow, increasing the difficulty of a trail. Trails are not groomed or checked daily.
  • Easiest: Skiers need basic knowledge and limited experience in the diagonal stride, snow-plow, and side- stepping. Trails may have short downhill and uphill stretches. Due to topography of the Old Faithful area, few trails are rated easiest.
  • More Difficult:Skiers need to be able to ski varied terrain requiring turning, snow-plowing, herringboning, and diagonal stride. Much of the terrain is forested with limited space to maneuver. Not recommended for anyone who does not have a solid knowledge of cross-country skiing.
  • Most Difficult: Skiers need to be experienced. Trails are hazardous and terrain is frequently extreme. Turns are often sharp and linked together with no room to snow-plow or herringbone.
  • Backcountry: Backcountry trails are marked on these maps with dashed black lines and should only be attempted by experienced parties with appropriate equipment. Many of them are difficult to find and follow as they have not necessarily been skied recently. Many go through avalanche-prone areas that are not marked. Caution: Do not attempt to travel any backcountry trails without good topographical maps and current trail conditions.
 

Canyon Area (View Map)

  • Cascade Lake Trail: 3 miles (4.8 km), easiest. Begin on the left (west) side of the Washburn Hot Springs Overlook road, approximately 0.3 miles (0.5 km) north of Canyon Junction. The trail follows a service road for the fi rst 200 yards (183 m) then takes a 90 degree right turn down a wide trail. The turn will be marked with a directional ski sign. The trail winds through a lodgepole pine forest opening into Cascade Meadows. Caution should be taken to avoid bison in the meadow. Be alert as you continue north along the meadow to Cascade Creek--it can be difficult to navigate through drifts to narrow crossing. Cross the creek one at a time, and use your poles to test each step. Continue north for one mile (1.6 km). The trail turns gradually to the left (northwest) and enters a lodgepole pine forest. The trail is clearly marked at this point and continues northwest across an open meadow to ice-covered Cascade Lake. The trail provides a good view of the hills above Cascade Lake are ideal for downhill skiing. Inquire at the warming hut for ski conditions and avalanche danger.
  • Roller Coaster Trail:1.8 miles (2.9 km), more difficult.From the warming hut, go east along the North Rim Drive for 100 yards (91 m). Turn left 90-degrees and continue up a service road for approximately 0.3 miles (0.5 km). Ski down a short, moderate slope into a meadow and veer right, off the service road and up into the pine forest. From here the trail is well-defi ned through the trees with a series of moderate to steep ups and downs. The trail merges with the Canyon Rim Trail. At the junction you can turn right to return to the warming hut, or left to continue along the Canyon Rim Trail. The Roller Coaster is fast and fun.
  • Canyon Rim Trail: 4.5 miles (7.24 km), easiest to more difficult. Begin at the warming hut and follow the North Rim Drive east for one mile (1.6 km). The trail turns sharply left and continues down a moderately steep hill to Inspiration Point. From there, follow the loop and return back up the hill. Further up the road, towards the North Rim Drive, the trail turns sharply left and onto a road. Continue along the edge of the canyon rim for one mile (1.6 km) providing excellent views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. At Grand View Point, the trail crosses the road and follows a marked trail through the pine forest and up into the summer cabin area. Ski past the cabins and into the summer developed visitor use area, past the Canyon Lodge and back to the warming hut.
    Caution should be taken while skiing along the Canyon Rim. Skiers are advised to remove their skis and walk out to the viewpoints.
  • Old Canyon Bridge Trail: 1 mile (1.6 km), easiest. Begin at the Chittenden Bridge or near the entrance to the South Rim Drive starting on the Brink of the Upper Falls overlook trail. This is a very short easy ski with beautiful views of the Yellowstone River above the Upper Falls.
 

Mammoth Area (View Map)
Skier Shuttle services are available from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to the Swan Lake and Indian Creek areas on a prearranged basis only. Tickets must be purchased in advance from Yellowstone Park Lodges. Arrangements need to be made for pickup ahead of time. If you miss your shuttle pickup, notify the front desk upon your return to prevent initiation of a search.

  • Upper Terrace Loop: 1.5 miles (2.4 km), easiest to more difficult. This loop begins at the Upper Terrace parking area. It is easiest if skied beginning to the left (clockwise). A moderate climb leads to views of hot springs, terraces, and the surrounding mountains. At the top of the climb, a trail veers off to the southwest, which connects with the Snow Pass Trail. The Terrace Loop Trail descends past more hot springs before completing the circuit. Since snow depths here are less than in the mountains above, wintering elk and deer are occasionally sighted. Caution: There are thermal areas along this trail; stay on the groomed trail.
  • Bunsen Peak Road Trail: 6 miles (9.6 km), easiest to most difficult. Begin on the Mammoth-Norris road, just south of Rustic Falls and across from the upper end of the Snow Pass Trail. The upper 3 miles (4.8 km) are mostly level and suitable for all levels of skiing ability. On the northeast side of Bunsen Peak, the road becomes steep and winding, dropping 960 feet in 2.5 miles (292 m in 4 km) to Glen Creek. CAUTION: some curves have steep drop-offs and can be hazardous when icy. From Glen Creek the trail climbs 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to a plowed road in an employee housing area 0.8 miles (1.3 km) below the Upper Terrace parking area and 1.3 miles (2.1 km) above Mammoth. This trail provides fine views of the Gallatin Mountains and the Gardner River Canyon.
  • Sheepeater Trail: 5 miles (8 km), easiest. Begin at the Indian Creek Warming Hut, ski along the road 0.5 miles (0.8 km) north to Sheepeater Cliffs picnic area. The trail skirts the east side of Swan Lake Flats through interspersed forest and meadow with views of the Gallatin Range and the Gardner River Canyon. The trial connects with the Bunsen Peak Trail and continues approximately 1.6 miles (2.5 km) west to the Mammoth-Norris road.
  • Snow Pass Trail: 4.2 miles (6.76 km), easiest to most difficult. Begin 0.4 miles (0.6 km) south of the Upper Terrace parking area on the west side of the Mammoth-Norris road or a short connector trail joins from the upper end of the Upper Terrace Loop. The heavily forested trail ascends 700 feet in 1.5 miles (213 m in 2.4 km) through a series of very steep grades along the trail to Snow Pass. From Snow Pass the trail continues 0.5 miles (0.8 km) down over rolling terrain to a trail junction at which the ski route turns left (south) and follows Glen Creek over fairly level terrain for 2.2 miles (3.5 km), returning to the road just south of Rustic Falls. From here, you can either continue across the roadto the Bunsen Peak Road (see decription) or turn left and ski down the road back to the Upper Terrace parking lot.
  • Indian Creek Loop: 2.2 miles (3.5 km), easiest. Begin at the Indian Creek Warming Hut and follow the campground road north, then west through the campground along Indian Creek. About 0.5 miles (0.8 km) west of the campground, the trail turns left (south) through gently rolling, timbered terrain, past the cutoff and on toward Obsidian Creek where it follows an old wagon road north back to the hut. This trail is mostly very gentle. It offers glimpses of the Gallatin Range to the west and travels through the forest.
  • Bighorn Loop: 5.5 miles (8.85 km), easiest to more difficult. Begin at the Indian Creek Hut and follow the Indian Creek Loop for the fi rst mile. Continue west, making a loop through rolling terrain with outstanding views of the Gallatin Mountains, Gardners Hole, and the surrounding country. After completing the loop, return to the Indian Creek Warming Hut by the same route. There is also a cut-off which heads west from the Indian Creek Hut and the Indian Creek Loop 0.12 miles (0.2 km) from the hut.
 

Northeast Area (View Map)

  • Bannock Trail: 2 miles (3.2 km), easiest. Begin at Warm Creek picnic area, one mile west of the Northeast Entrance. After crossing Soda Butte Creek, the trail follows the old road bed that was once used to supply the mining town of Cooke City, Montana. This trail takes its name from the Bannock band of the Shoshone, who used this route to reach the buffalo grounds of the Great Plains. The terrain is mostly flat and the trail traverses open meadows and mixed conifer forests. You will reach the North Absaroka Wilderness approximately one mile (1.6 km) from the trailhead. At two miles (3.2 km) you come to Silver Gate, Montana. From here the road bed is used as a snowmobile route and is good skiing to Cooke City, 3 miles (4.8 km) to the east.
  • Barronette Trail: 3.5 miles (5.6 km), easiest. The Barronette Trail is a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) section of the Old Cooke City road. The trailheads are located at the upper and lower Soda Butte bridges on the Northeast Road, 3 and 6.5 miles (4.8 and 10.5 km) respectively from the Northeast Entrance. The trail lies mostly in conifer forests beneath Barronette Peak. Although misspelled, the peak is named for Jack Barronett, an early Yellowstone guide and army scout. Barronett also constructed and operated a toll bridge over the Yellowstone River near Tower Junction during the Cooke City mining period. The trail offers some spectacular mountain scenery and consistent snow conditions. Check for current conditions especially avalanche conditions and, in late winter, grizzly bears.
  • Pebble Creek Trail: 13 miles (21 km), most difficult. This is a backcountry trail that is usually through unbroken snow. Although skied as a day trip in late winter and early spring by experienced parties, it normally requires a night out to complete. Check at the visitor center in Mammoth or the ranger stations at Tower or the Northeast Entrance for current conditions. Overnight camping requires a free backcountry use permit which must be obtained in person from the Mammoth or Old Faithful visitor centers, or West and South entrance stations.

Telemark Skiing

The northeast section of Yellowstone and the Cooke City area offer unlimited possibilities for the day skier interested in telemark and cross-country downhill experiences. Inquire locally for ski and avalanche conditions.
 

Old Faithful Area (View Map)

Skiing in a geyser basin near thermal areas is an exciting and unusual experience. It also presents some challenges. Because of the heat below ground, sections of these trails are often bare of snow and you may need to remove your skis in order to continue. However, for your own safety and the safety of other skiers, please do not remove your skis on steep, snow-covered trails. Skiing on boardwalks can be quite difficult and you may want to consider snowshoeing or walking along those routes. Caution: Bison frequent all trails in the Old Faithful area.
  • Fairy Falls Trail: 11 miles (17.7 km) round trip, easiest to more difficult, skier-tracked.
    Ski 1.3 miles (2.1 km) on the Fountain Flats Drive, then turn left on the Fairy Falls Trail. Most of the Fairy Falls Trail is level, but there are hills and bends in the trail near the falls. Return via the same route, then take the Powerline Trail or the snow vehicle road to Old Faithful. To reach the more difficult Powerline Trail, ski about 0.25 miles (0.4 km) south (right) along the snow vehicle road to the Mallard Creek trailhead on the left. Follow the Mallard Creek Trail and turn right at the first junction onto the Powerline Trail, which has rolling hills. The Powerline Trail leads to the Upper Geyser Basin Trail and Morning Glory Pool. Where the trail crosses thermal areas, you may need to remove your skis due to lack of snow.
  • Mallard Creek Trail: 12 miles (19.3 km) round trip, most difficult, skier-tracked.
    This trail branches off the Mallard Lake Trail 0.2 miles (0.3 km) before the lake. From the junction, the trail climbs steeply up switchbacks to a ridge overlooking Mallard Lake and then heads northwest for approximately 4 miles (6.4 km). The trail has many challenging turns and crosses numerous deep gullies. Sections of the trail may be hard to follow and may not be well marked. Only advanced skiers should attempt this trail. The return to Old Faithful is another 4 miles (6.4 km) over gently rolling terrain along the Powerline Trail and through the Upper Geyser Basin.
  • Mallard Lake Trail: 3.4 miles (5.5 km) one way, more difficult, skier-tracked.
    Beginning near Snow Lodge, the trail follows Mallard Lake/Kepler Cascades Trail across the Firehole River bridge. At the trail junction, the trail goes left through the forest and climbs to Mallard Lake, with some steep sections and sidehills. Beware of avalanches. This trail is not recommended in very icy conditions. The Mallard Creek trail junction is approximately 0.2 miles (0.3 km) before the lake. Return downhill to Old Faithful the same way.
  • Lone Star Geyser Trail: 2.5 miles one way, easiest, machine-groomed.
    Beginning at the snow vehicle road above Kepler Cascades, the trail follows a service road through the forest and along the Firehole River to Lone Star Geyser. Lone Star Geyser erupts about every 3 hours with activity lasting approximately 20 minutes. Novice skiers should return by the same route, choosing the snow vehicle road or Kepler Cascades Trail to descend to Old Faithful. For a most difficult return route, take the Howard Eaton Trail.
  • Spring Creek Trail: 8 miles (12.9 km) one way, more difficult, skier-tracked.
    Snowcoach drop at Divide Trailhead. The trail starts with a short uphill climb. At the junction, turn right and go down a steep narrow trail through dense forest. Excellent speed control and turning skills are required.
    Snowcoach drop at the Spring Creek Picnic Area. The trail traverses rolling hills, level terrain, forests, canyons, and many small bridges over Spring Creek. There are additional areas where you may need to sidestep up and also sidestep down a steep hill. Please do not take your skis off as it creates a hazard for other skiers. The trail ends at the Lone Star Geyser Trail. Turn right to return to Old Faithful via the snow vehicle road or Kepler Cascades Trail. Turn left to reach Lone Star Geyser. The Howard Eaton Trail starts immediately beyond Lone Star Geyser.
  • Divide Trail: 2.8 miles (4.5 km) round trip, more difficult, skier-tracked.
    Begin at Spring Creek Trail junction. The trail climbs up to a saddle on the Continental Divide. On a clear day, you may have views of Shoshone Lake and Mt. Sheridan. Return to Old Faithful via the Spring Creek Trail.
  • Fern Cascades Loop (one-way, steep trail): 3 miles (4.8 km), easy to most difficult, skier-tracked.
    The trail starts at the Bear Den Ski Shop exit and angles towards the Snow Lodge cabin area. Then the trail goes through trees and crosses small bridges to reach the main snow vehicle road. The trail begins across the road. Bear right on this one-way loop and follow under the power lines. If the uphill section at the start of the trail is too steep, turn around. The trail only gets more difficult from there. The trail continues close to the bottom of the hillside, past many buildings, then curves steeply uphill through the trees. It will be necessary to “herringbone” up steep sections. Please do not remove your skis. At the top of the hill, there is a small, easily-missed canyon on the right where the cascades are located. Do not approach the edge of the overlook when viewing the cascades. The middle section of the trail is gently rolling. At the end is a steep downhill section that requires good speed control.
  • Black Sand Basin Trail: 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip, easiest, machine groomed.
    Begin in front of the Old Faithful Visitor Center and take the Upper Geyser Basin Trail past Castle Geyser. Turn left onto the skier-tracked trail to Daisy Geyser, stay to the left and continue to the snow vehicle road. Black Sand Basin is across the snow vehicle road.
  • Trails to Morning Glory Pool, Punchbowl Spring, and other thermal features (View Map)
 

Tower Area (View Map)

  • Blacktail Plateau Trail: 8 miles (12.8 km), easiest to more difficult. This trail may be skied from either end. Begin 8 miles (13 km) east of Mammoth Hot Springs at a parking area across the road from a self-guiding trail, or at a service road approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) farther east (see map). The trail gradually climbs 900 feet (274 m) in 6 miles (9.7 km) through open meadows to “The Cut”. From here the trail descends 2 miles (3.2 km) down a moderate grade through a spruce-fi r forest to rejoin the Mammoth-Tower Road 1.4 miles (2.25 km) from Tower Junction. Broad vistas, elk, deer, coyotes, and occasionally bison may be seen.
  • Chittenden Loop Trail:5.3 miles (8.3 km), easiest to more difficult. The Trail begins at Tower Fall which is 2.5 miles (4 km) from Tower Junction. The trail is easiest if you climb the more diffi cult section at the beginning of the loop by heading to the right through Tower Fall Campground. More experienced skiers may wish to ski the loop in the opposite direction; however, the “more difficult” portion of the loop can be quite fast if snow is packed. The trail continues through dense lodgepole pine returning to the unplowed Tower-Canyon road. From here the route goes approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) back to Tower Fall. Good views of Mt. Washburn are possible.
  • Lost Lake Trail: 4 miles (6.4 km), easiest to more difficult. Start at the Petrifi ed Tree Road, just east of the exit of Blacktail Plateau Drive, or 1.4 miles (2.25 km) west of Tower Junction. The trail follows the road to the Petrifi ed Tree, then leads through a narrow, open valley to Lost Lake. Follow the near shore (on the ice) the trail reaches the head of the lake after 1.5 miles to the head of the lake, then travel through intermittent forest and meadows. After 2.5 miles (4 km) and a short steep descent, the trail reaches Calcite Springs Overlook on the Tower Fall Trail, 1.4 miles (2.25 km) from Tower Junction. It DOES NOT follow the maintained summer trail. Watch closely for orange trail tags marking the route because it may be diffi cult to fi nd. Rolling terrain, views and possibly elk may be seen along this trail. Caution: Remove your skis for the short, steep section at the Lost Creek Bridge.
  • Tower Fall Trail: 2.5 miles (4 km), easiest. Begin at the parking area just southeast of Tower Junction. The trail follows the unplowed Tower-Canyon road up a gradual slope past Calcite Springs Overlook to Tower Fall. Great views of the Yellowstone River Canyon, occasional bison, bighorn sheep and bald eagles.
  • Yancey’s Hole Trail: 1.0 miles, easiest. This trail begins at the parking area just southwest of Tower Junction. It follows the stagecoach road out to Yancey’s Hole. Return by the same route.
 

West Yellowstone and Gallatin Area (View Map)

  • Riverside Trail
    Boundary Street to loops: 1 mile (1.6 km)
    Downriver loop, full: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
    Downriver loop, short: 2.2 miles (3.5 km)
    Upriver loop: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
    Trailhead: east side of Boundary Street at Madison Avenue.
    The first mile is through forest to the loop trail junctions above the Madison River. The upriver loop (right), provides panoramic views of the Madison River and the Gallatin Range. The downriver loop (left), crosses open forests and meadows along the river. A cutoff trail shortens the trip by 1.3 miles (2.1 km). Return to the trailhead via the approach trail. Look for elk, bald eagles, and waterfowl. The first two miles my be occasionally groomed for classic ski tracks.
  • Bacon Rind Creek Trail: 8 miles (12.9 km), one way
    Trailhead: West side of U.S. 191, 23 miles (37 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Trail starts on the north side of Bacon Rind Creek and continues over fl at terrain 2 miles (3.2 km) to the Park boundary. The trail becomes diffi cult to follow as it heads into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area.
  • Bighorn Pass Trail: 10 miles (17 km), one way
    To Fawn Pass Cutoff: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
    Fawn Pass Cutoff to Bighorn Pass: 6 miles (9.7 km)
    Trailhead: 20.5 miles (33 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Avalanche Danger: Extreme in the last 2 miles (3.2 km) to Bighorn Pass.
    Cross the Gallatin River about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) east of the highway — use caution. Trail crosses meadows with little elevation change from the trailhead to Fawn Pass Cutoff. (The cutoff trail switchbacks uphill 1 mile (1.6 km) to Fawn Pass Trail.) The trail then climbs for 6 miles (9.7 km) to Bighorn
    Pass. Return the same way.
  • Black Butte Trail: 7 miles (11.3 km), one way
    Trailhead: 28.8 miles (46.3 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    The trail follows Black Butte Creek with many short, steep sections, gaining 769 ft (234 m) in elevation between the trailhead and Daly Creek Cutoff (2 miles/3.2 km) west to Daly Creek Trail). Trail climbs for 4 miles (6.4 km) to Bighorn Peak. The last 2 miles (3.2 km) are not recommended. The trail becomes extremely steep and hard to follow, and is dangerously exposed.
  • Daly Creek Trail: 6 miles (9.7 km), one way
    Trailhead: 30 miles (48.3 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Trail rises through meadows for 2 miles (3.2 km) to Black Butte Cutoff (2 miles/3.2 km east to the Black Butte Trail). The trail continues about 4 miles (6.4 km) to the Sky Rim Trail and park boundary. The Daly Creek drainage lies in a snow shadow, resulting in minimal snow cover.
  • Fawn Pass Trail: 11 miles (17.7 km), one way
    To Bighorn Pass Cutoff: 5 miles (8 km)
    Bighorn Pass Cutoff to Fawn Pass: 6 miles (9.7 km)
    Trailhead: 22 miles (35.4 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Avalanche Danger: Moderate in the last 6 miles (9.7 km) to Fawn Pass.
    After crossing several fi ngers of the Gallatin River, the trail gradually ascends 700 feet (213.4 m) in 5 miles (8 km) to the Bighorn Pass Cutoff. (The cutoff trail switchbacks downhill 1 mile (1,6 km) to Bighorn Pass Trail.) The trail then climbs for 6 miles (9.7 km) to Fawn Pass. Return the same way.
  • Gneiss Creek Trail: 14 miles (23 km), one way
    Trailhead: 9.5 miles (15.2 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Ski across rolling meadows and through open forests on this lightly-used trail. Trail crosses several creeks – use caution. Return the same way or ski back along the snow road from Seven Mile Bridge to West Yellowstone (7 miles /11.3 km).
  • Specimen Creek Trail: 8 miles (12.9 km), one way
    Trailhead: 26.5 miles (42.6 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    Avalanche Danger: Moderate to severe on the Shelf Lake Trail portion.
    This popular route follows the north side of Specimen Creek for 2 miles (3.2 km) through rolling forests to the Sportsman Lake Trail junction on the south (right). (Sportsman Lake Trail is not recommended). Follow the trail to the left along the north fork of Specimen Creek, ascending for 4 miles (6.4 km) through forests and meadows to the Shelf Lake (Crescent Lake trail junction). Shelf Lake lies 2 miles (3.2 km) north and Crescent Lake is 2 miles (3.2 km) east. Snow cover ranges from sparse to marginal on the lower reaches. The last mile of each trail is extremely steep; climbing skins are recommended.
  • Telemark Meadows
    Trailhead: West side of U.S. 191, 18 miles (29 km) north of West Yellowstone.
    No marked trails — several gentle slopes suitable for beginning through advanced telemark skiers.
 

Last updated: November 21, 2017

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Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

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