What do you notice about the above boardwalk?

It’s empty.

A lot of people think Yellowstone is closed in the late fall and early winter, or find the prospect of visiting at that time of year unappealing. But it’s open, and I find this particular time of year to be the best — this is when to visit Yellowstone. 

While November can bring long nights, gray days, and bitter cold, it also brings solitude. Places that are pressed by humanity in the summer become intimate, familiar gems in the slower months.

Mammoth Hot Springs is one of my favorites — close to home, always dynamic and changing, filled with the distinctive scent of travertine and hot water. I also love to visit Norris Geyser Basin just before the interior park roads close in early November. It’s unlike any place on earth when you have the boardwalks to yourself.

While choosing to live at the doorstep of Yellowstone often means going without (sushi, museums, box stores, or a typical date night like dinner and a movie), it also means having private moments in the park. Solitude is available in Yellowstone during any season if you know where to look.

It’s true that November brings colder temperatures and more unpredictable weather. But the ability to visit the park’s unique and famed thermal features without the company of thousands of your not-so-best-friends is well worth it.

Whether you have a wolf encounter or not, Yellowstone is at its most dazzling, sparkling, best in the winter. Teddy Roosevelt agreed and had this to say, “the Park has special beauties to be seen in winter; and any hardy man who can go through it in that season on skis will enjoy himself as he scarcely could elsewhere.” 

Have you visited Yellowstone or another National Park during the off-season? Tell us how you enjoyed it on Twitter!