Skiing The Tower Area in Yellowstone

There is generally no shortage of snow in Yellowstone. Winter provides layer upon layer of the white stuff. Cross-country skiing in Yellowstone is the best way to recreate and explore the park, especially during the long winter months. The Tower Area in Yellowstone is easily accessible from the park’s north entrance and offers skiing/snowshoeing opportunities for all ages and abilities.

Skiing Tower Falls Trail in Yellowstone

Tower Fall Trail

The Tower Fall Trail is the easiest and most popular in the area. The trail starts at the parking lot just after the intersection with Tower Roosevelt Lodge. Find the trailhead sign near the locked gates.

The trail is the Tower-Canyon Road. Follow the route up to Tower Fall and by the Calcite Springs Overlook. The trail is an easy grade and offers amazing views of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. Look for the Basalt Columns above the Yellowstone River. The basalt columns are a reminder of Yellowstone’s volcanic history. The igneous column formations were sculpted 1.3 to 1.4 million years ago. Slow moving lava covered the area. Through the process of cooling and shrinking, the lava flow formed the hexagonal columns. The columns can also be seen close to the road.

Continue to the Tower Fall and Tower General Store Winter Views of Yellowstone's Grand Canyon  parking area. The store is not open during the winter, but the trail to Tower Fall Overlook can be found here. Use caution while skiing the 150-yard trail. Walking the route is recommended. At the overlook you will find the best view of Tower Fall, a 132 ft., singular column of water.

Retrace your steps and enjoy the fun down hill back to the parking area. If you wish to continue past the falls, check out the Chittenden Loop Trail.

Tower Fall Ski Trail Info:

Length: 2.5 miles (4km)
Rated: Easiest
Elevation: Gain/Loss: 190 feet
Other: The trail is to Tower Fall is occasionally groomed.

Lost Lake Trail:

Lost Lake in Yellowstone is a small lake tucked in the forest behind the Roosevelt Lodge.  The 6-acre lake is a popular hike in the summer and a fun ski during the winter. Parking for the trail is located in the pullout just east of the Petrified Tree Road.

Follow the road to the Petrified Tree. The Petrified Tree is an ancient redwood preserved in time. The tree was formed through absorption of silica rich water and encasement in volcanic deposits. The petrified tree is thought to be 45-50 million years old! Shortly past the Petrified Tree, the trail drops into a narrow valley to Lost Lake. Ski the frozen shore of the lake to the trail that connects with the Calcite Springs Overlook/Tower Canyon Road. For a shorter trip, turn around at the lake and retrace your steps. The connector route to the Tower Fall Trail is rolling with several steep descents. Removing skis and walking is recommended, especially at the Lost Creek Bridge. If not adequately tracked, please pay close attention to the blaze orange trail markers.

Lost Lake Ski Trail Info

Length: 4 miles
Rated: Easy to Difficult
Elevation: Gain/Loss: 360 Feet
Other: The trail is not groomed. Backcountry conditions to apply

Petrified Tree in Yellowstone   Cross-Country Skiing in Yellowstone

Blacktail Plateau Trail

Blacktail Plateau is a rolling and open landscape between Mammoth and Tower. The Plateau is home to wintering elk and bison along with wolves, coyotes, and more. The Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail offers great views and lots of snow. The trail is popular with locals and visitors.

The trail starts in two different locations. The first trailhead is located across the road from the Forces of Nature Trail atop of the plateau. There is plenty of parking and a trail sign indicating the start of the route. The second trailhead is at the start of the Blacktail Plateau Drive.

The ski trail gradually ascends 900 feet to an area referred to as the “Cut”. The
“Cut” is thought to be an area where poachers once camped in Yellowstone. After the climb through open meadows, the trail descends approximately two miles to the Mammoth-Tower Road. The decent is a moderate grade through mixed forest of spruce and fir trees. This trail can be either skied as an out and back or with a shuttle.

Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail Info

Length: 8 miles
Rated: Easy to Difficult
Elevation: Gain/Loss: 900 feet
Other: The trail is occasionally groomed. Backcountry conditions may apply.

Chittenden Loop Trail
Family Photo in Yellowstone

The Chittenden Loop Ski Trail in Yellowstone starts near the parking lot to Tower Fall. The NPS recommends beginner to moderate skiers should climb the more difficult section of trail through the Tower Fall Campground (and avoid a potentially steep and sketchy downhill.) The trail navigates through dense lodgepole pine forest and connects with the Tower-Canyon Road. Ski the Tower-Canyon Road back to the Tower Fall Trailhead. The Chittenden Loop Trail offers outstanding vistas of the Antelope Valley and Mount Washburn.  

Chittenden Ski Loop Information:

Length: 5.3 miles
Rated: Easy to Difficult
Elevation: Gain/Loss: 800 feet
Other: Trail is occasionally groomed or skier tracked.

Yellowstone Trail Information:

Here is a downloadable map of the Tower Ski Area....Map of Tower Area

For current or up to date trail information, please contact the Bear Den Ski Shop or Albright Visitor Center. Both are located in Mammoth Hot Springs. The Bear Den offers ski rentals and grooming information. Ski rentals can also be found in Gardiner, MT or Dan Bailey's in Livingston.

The trail rating is by the National Park Service and specific to trails in Yellowstone. Changing weather conditions may cause trails to be icy, deep powder, and barren. Wear proper clothing and lots of layers. The Tower Area has a base elevation over 6000 feet, making breathing difficult for some. Animals can be present on the trails. Cell phone service is limited. Use caution and follow NPS regulations.

The blog post and trail info was written by Chris Hondorf, owner and guide for Yellowstone Guidelines. Yellowstone Guidelines offers a variety of winter adventures like cross-country skiingsnowshoeing, and wildlife tours. Contact us today – or 406.599.2960. Hope to see you on the trail!