I'll admit it. When it comes to our national parks, I'm a fair-weather friend. I've lingered for days in Glacier at the height of its summer splendor, popped into Yosemite for a peep at its fall foliage—but when it comes to winter in the parks, I've only ogled the classic Ansel Adams photographs, sighed, and solemnly vowed that some day I'll get there in what is somewhat erroneously referred to as the "off-season."
This year, the Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI) proves that Yellowstone National Park does not go into hibernation mode with the first snowfall. YAI has put together a new slate of fall and winter field seminars, private tours, and "lodging and learning" programs that may actually get me out of New York and into the mountains.
With 35 field seminars, including eight brand-new programs, Yellowstone will be hopping all winter, putting up eager visitors at cabins and bunkhouses at the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley and at log cabins at the Overlook Field Campus in Gardiner, Mont. New programs include:
The Wildlife Weekend Escape. Spend two days (December 14-15) in the Lamar Valley searching for bison, elk, and Yellowstone's renowned wolves ($220).
Old Faithful Fall Photography. Shutterbugs will visit the area's rivers, geysers, geologic formations, and wildlife at dawn and dusk October 16-19 ($358).
Wildlife on the Hoof. Focusing on bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, and other hooved mammals, this program is held during migration and mating season, November 23-25 ($330).
Visitors can also book private tours tailored to families and small groups or "lodging and learning" programs offered in partnership with Xanterra Parks & Resorts.
To learn more, visit yellowstoneassociation.org.