Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park
Montana is the gateway to Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins, a property in the Wyoming portion of the park that is only open in winter. A shuttle service from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport whisks guests through the park’s North Entrance (near Gardiner, Montana) and over to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins (the only in-park winter lodging accessible by car). From here, it’s a snow coach ride to the Snow Lodge.
Completed in 1999, the lodge sits at an elevation of 7,365 feet and provides sweeping winter vistas. Outside, the Upper Geyser Basin trail and boardwalk network offers easy access to a snowy playground for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating. “Colder temperatures create a magical effect; even the smallest steam vents become noticeable in winter and can lead to the feeling that you are visiting another planet,” says Rick Hoeninghausen of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the lodge’s operator. “It is not unusual to have Old Faithful all to yourself when you catch that final eruption before turning in for the night.”
Cowboy Christmas, Triple Creek Ranch, Darby
The folks at the exclusive Triple Creek Ranch understand that there’s no place like home for the holidays. That’s why Cowboy Christmas week at the Bitterroot Mountain Range hideaway includes homey touches like a Christmas tree (decorated or ready for your own tree-trimming) in each of the 23 luxury cabins, fresh baked Christmas cookies, romantic candlelit dinners, and a selection of holiday movies to watch in front of a wood-burning fireplace.
“Everything was so warm and inviting,” says Germantown, Tennessee, resident Emily Young, who celebrated Christmas at the upscale ranch with her husband and parents. “We felt like we were staying in someone's home, not at a resort.” Triple Creek caters to adults (and families with children ages 16 and up), and offers a full slate of seasonal activities, including horseback riding and skijoring (skiers pulled by a horseback rider), snow tubing (pulled by an ATV), ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and soaking in an outdoor hot tub under the pines. “The ranch is absolutely serene in the winter,” Young says. “There’s even a small elk refuge on property, and the contrast of seeing the dark elk on the white snow was especially beautiful.”