Cody Yellowstone is an Emerging Snowmobiling Destination
With almost 7,000 square miles and a population of only about 30,000 people, Wyoming’s Park County is a wintertime snowmobiling paradise for enthusiasts who enjoy exploring pristine trails and wide-open wilderness.
In winter, that often means hopping on a snowmobile. Options are abundant as the region features roughly 1,000 miles of trails outside of Yellowstone National Park plus groomed roads inside the park.
“Trails, snow, sunshine and thermal features – we have everything you need for a memorable snowmobile experience,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone. “And with the National Park Service (NPS) relaxing some its rules on snowmobiles inside Yellowstone, opportunities are more plentiful.”
Much of the land outside Yellowstone is federally owned and part of the Shoshone National Forest where off-road snowmobiling is permitted. Visitors and residents alike can bring their own sleds or rent them locally. In addition, guided tours are available with Cody outfitters.
Rules of the roads inside the park
Many questions pertain to in-park rules as major changes have occurred over the years as quieter snowmobiles producing less pollution are now required inside Yellowstone.
At one point, only commercially guided snowmobile tours were permitted. This year, NPS is allowing both commercially guided and non-guided sledders to enter the park’s East Gate and continue to its world’s-best collection or geysers, hot springs and other thermal features. Snowmobilers must follow posted speed limits and stay on park roads.
Each day, a group of up to five riders may enter the park through the East Gate and the other “over-the-snow” entrances. These riders must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license, and Best Available Technology (BAT) is required. BAT in this case is a four-stroke machine as opposed to the two-stroke snowmobiles that, while more powerful, are also louder and produce more pollution. Participants must also pass the online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification course.
NPS has instituted a lottery system for permits hosted by www.recreation.gov (877-444-6777). Permits cost $40/day plus a $6 application fee. While the lottery application deadline has passed, permits are still distributed for cancelations and dates for which no requests were made. Complete information is available online.
Guided tours are available inside the park as well. Gary Fales Outfitting operates at the Rimrock Dude Ranch 25 miles from the East Gate of Yellowstone. Tours of the park range from one to three days with some tours including overnight accommodations in park hotels as well as in gateway communities. The outfitter also rents snowmobiles by the day for self-guided tours.
Other winter adventures in Cody Yellowstone
Cody Yellowstone offers an array of other winter adventures. Sleeping Giant Ski Area features 184 skiable acres and a terrain park constructed of materials found on the hill. In addition to being the only resort in Wyoming with “SNO-GO” bikes, Sleeping Giant will offer night tubing and skiing, a big New Year’s Eve party with live music and yurt and tent rentals for groups.
Visitors who prefer non-downhill activities can try ice-skating Homesteader Park in Powell, climbing on one of many frozen waterfalls or cross country skiing Wood River Valley Ski Touring Park.
Indoor options include watching the Yellowstone Quake Hockey Team, ice skating at the Victor J. Riley Arena or checking out various attractions like the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center and the Cody Firearms Experience.