Location: Roosevelt

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation Gain: Roughly 500 feet

Gear Typically Needed in Winter: Snowshoes, warm clothes, trekking poles

The snowshoe up to Tower Fall and Calcite Springs is a classic winter adventure in Yellowstone National Park and one that you should not skip. It is one of my favorites and an experience that will help you love Yellowstone in the winter even more. With the road to Tower Fall closed in the winter at the junction at Roosevelt, the only way to reach the stunning views once the road is closed for the season is on foot, more often than not in snowshoes.

Tower Fall and Calcite Springs are beloved roadside jaunts in the summer months, but reaching them in the winter is truly special. Long gone are the full parking lots and paths bustling with activity. They have been replaced with a peacefulness and serenity that warms the heart and soul on the coldest of days. 

Book a private snowshoe tour with me and go here!

(Random aside: Does it bother anyone else that it is officially named Tower Fall and not Tower Falls?)

A winter view from Yellowstone National Park’s Calcite Springs Overlook

What I Consider to Be the Highlights

Even when driving this short section of road in the summer, one can’t help but be dazzled by the views. When on foot, you get even more time to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells of the area. Thats right! In the winter, the sulfur smell from Calcite Springs can be quite strong, giving you whiffs of the thermal feature from far away. I suppose that could be considered a lowlight to some, but come on-it is Yellowstone!

For me, the main highlight of this trek is the Calcite Springs Overlook. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Tower Fall from the viewing area, frozen and blue against the exposed rocky towers for which the area was named, is stunning. I just think the view from Calcite is even more stunning. At Calcite, the panoramic view will have you seeing steam rising from the bottom of Bumpus Butte, with the Yellowstone River flowing gorgeously far below your feet. You’ll see examples of millions of years of geology and volcanic activity across the river, giving you access to the past against impossibly steep canyon walls. To the east, towering mountains rise to meet the sky, and along the canyon rim, you may catch a glimpse of bison, elk, or bighorn sheep grazing.   

Between Calcite and Tower, the road levels off and you’ll get to walk along the canyon rim. On one side will be stunning rock formations. On the other will be sweeping views of the Yellowstone River and surrounding landscape. This is legitimately one of the most stunning roadside stretches in all of Yellowstone, and in the winter you get to take your time and walk it, soaking it all in. Then, when you peel yourself away from the grand vista, you’ll get to walk over the bridge spanning Tower Creek and look at the incredible designs caused by freezing temperatures. 

Once you reach Tower, the parking lot will be empty, the store will be closed, and there may be bison roaming nearby. Make sure none are on the trail and head down the short path to the overlook. At the overlook, enjoy the beautiful view of the frozen waterfall and rocky pillars. It is definitely more than fine if you love this view more than Calcite Springs. 

The wildlife sightings on this trek can also be quite good if one is lucky. You can see bison nearly every time and occasionally see bighorn sheep, coyotes, foxes, elk, and even signs of wolves. While I have yet to see a wolf here, I have heard them howl and have spotted fresh tracks in the snow multiple times each year.

Snowshoe the snowcovered road to Tower Fall and enjoy this iconic roadside section at your own pace.

What Some Consider to Be Lowlights

Some will always find something to not like about an adventure. Walking up a snow-covered, closed road may not be everyone’s idea of a winter snowshoe adventure in Yellowstone may not sound ideal. Many will also prefer to go on a path that is less traveled. Some will also say that they have already done this adventure.

Despite these reasons, I will let you know that the trek is always worth it. I do it multiple times a year, often for fun and not with a tour. If you have only done it once, do it again. It is always different.

It might be unfair to say this, but if you are in shape enough to do this adventure, the only people who will dislike it are in bad moods or people looking for something to complain about.

Snowshoers taking in the sights, sounds, and smells from the Calcite Springs Overlook

Who Should Do This Trek?

Everyone who has an interest in a winter adventure outside in Yellowstone. This is a classic trek and one that dazzles nearly all who wander it. Just know that you’ll be traveling five miles round trip, with roughly 500 feet of elevation gain. You’ll also be starting at over 6,000 feet above sea level. 

If you have never snowshoed and are interested in doing it, please strongly consider booking a private tour with me. I even provide the snowshoes.

Tower Fall and Calcite Springs is a fantastic snowshoe adventure for nearly all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. I have seen families with kids do this and multiple generations of family members make the trek. The road is wide and not too steep in any section and is even occasionally groomed, making it a go-to spot for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and those looking for an easier outdoor adventure. 

Be aware that temperatures in the winter can be quite cold. Please read my guide’s guide to snowshoeing in Yellowstone for information on clothing, checking the weather, and a lot more.  

A winter view of Tower Fall in Yellowstone National Park