Last Updated on November 10, 2023

Are you planning your next winter vacation? Does participating in winter sports play high on your travel wish list?

Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as areas inside of Yellowstone National Park and the valley east of the entrance. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.

Wyoming’s Park County is a vast and pristine high-adventure wonderland in the winter, without the big crowds and long lift lines.

With almost 7,000-square-miles to explore both inside and outside Yellowstone National Park, and far fewer visitors than those seen at some of the other Yellowstone National Park gateways, winter-season visitors may feel like they literally have the place to themselves.

“With alpine skiing, ice climbing, snowmobiling and other winter-season past-times, plus a whole lot of friendly people and places in town for post-adventure warm-up, our visitors will find everything they need for a memorable winter vacation,” Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region that includes the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, parts of the Shoshone National Forest and a large swath of Yellowstone National Park, said. “When it’s time to come in from the cold, visitors can stroll along Sheridan Avenue and check out our breweries, restaurants, museums and amazing shopping.”

Here are some fun, unique ways to play in Cody Yellowstone during the winter.

Observe frosty critters at sunrise

Get up early, grab a coffee and drive along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway towards the East Gate of Yellowstone with binoculars in hand.

The early morning hours and dusk are two of the best times to see animals in the wild. There are numerous places to pull off the road to scope for bison, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and even moose. The drive is greatly enhanced by listening to the free TravelStorys audio tour of the byway.

The GPS-triggered tour narrates the drive, citing highlights and history along the way.

Ski the “grooviest” ski area in Wyoming

The Sleeping Giant Ski Area is a community-focused ski area located in Northwestern Wyoming’s stunning Absaroka Mountain Range inside the Shoshone National Forest, just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park.

One of the oldest alpine ski areas in North America, Sleeping Giant has skier- and rider-accessible terrain with trails for every ability level. The ski area is open on weekends throughout the winter, with night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays. Sleeping Giant has increased the number of groomed trails by 30 percent and made significant upgrades to 20 of the existing runs. In addition, the ski area is introducing a new three-lane tubing park this season.  

Snowmobile inside and outside Yellowstone National Park

Snowmobiling enthusiasts can enjoy a snowmobile adventure in the park as well as on public lands outside the park, where there are more than 1,000 trails. One of the most popular snowmobile areas in the country is in the Beartooth Mountains, known for its stunning beauty all year and powdery backcountry snow in the winter.

Cross-country ski through the forest

This picturesque region offers classic tracks and skate lanes along the Shoshone River at Pahaska Tepee near the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. Or head to the remote Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park. Snowshoes and skis can be rented at outfitters in town or at the Sleeping Giant Ski Area.

There’s also skiing inside the park with Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

Climb a frozen waterfall

Now, this is a winter experience you won’t find everywhere!

With more than 200 climbable pitches within a 10-mile radius, Cody Yellowstone is a celebrated ice climbing destination. Visitors can join a commercially guided ice climbing tour throughout the winter. The destination will also host the second-annual Wyoming Ice Fest January 4-7, 2024 with a variety of guided climbs and clinics.

Cody Ice Fest in Cody, WY.
Cody Ice Fest in Cody, WY. Photo credit Cody Yellowstone

Go ice skating – inside or outside

The Victor J. Riley Arena and Community Events Center is a popular hub for ice skating. When the local Yellowstone Quake and Park County Youth Hockey Association hockey clubs and the Absaroka Figure Skating Club aren’t practicing, locals enjoy leisurely laps around the rink.

Visitors can also skate outside at the Homesteader Park outdoor rink in Powell, featuring night lighting, sideboards, a warming hut and concessions.

Stroll along the Cody Yellowstone Sippin’ Trail

One of the best ways for visitors to experience some of the town’s most popular restaurants and bars is to take advantage of the new Sippin’ Trail.

This fun and festive trail includes breweries, restaurants and unique venues such as a cigar lounge and a historic hotel built by town founder Buffalo Bill Cody.  

Enjoy fun shopping

Cody Yellowstone is home to numerous art galleries, museum stores and shops with an array of Western-themed gift items. Pick up a pair of classic cowboy boots at the Irma Hotel gift shop or Wayne’s Boots.

Take home some sweet treats from the Cowtown Candy Company or Meeteetse Chocolatier. Or choose locally made artwork on display at the Cody Country Art League.