If a highlight of your backcountry adventures is wildlife viewing, head to the lower elevations, where animals gather in greater concentrations in snowy months. Look for bison roaming the frosty plains, black and grizzly bears emerging from hibernation, plus bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and moose in various areas of the park. Bison calves and bear cubs begin to appear in the Lamar Valley in May. Stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards from bison, elk, and other large animals.
When the weather doesn’t cooperate for biking, snow sports are still possible until the end of the season. Yellowstone’s website has a list of approved providers of guided nature trips to explore remote areas on snowshoes or skis.
A late March or early April day might bring “skiing in the morning and biking in the afternoon,” says Wendy Swenson, marketing director of West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce. Experienced cross-country skiers can wake up at the crack of dawn for “crust-cruising,” or gliding on the icy layer that forms overnight atop snow—which disappears by noon, when conditions are perfect for hopping on a bike to explore.
Completely snowed in? Visit park wildlife at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone after a hearty breakfast spread at Euro Café, which stays open all year long.