Warm Up with Hearty Winter Fare at Yellowstone’s Lodges


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From carb-loading pasta to braised meat and bison chili, winter menus fit the bill

Posted by: Yellowstone National Park on December 26, 2018

“Unlike our summer business, we see a lot of return guests to Yellowstone every winter, celebrating Christmas or other family events and traditions. Because of the return guests, we tend to stick to the tried-and-true.” — executive chef Mike Dean

Winter in Yellowstone National Park ushers in a slower, gentler pace. But that doesn’t mean visitors’ appetites wane.

Indeed, cold weather and robust outdoor activities, like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, can leave active travelers downright ravenous.

Not to worry. The staff at Yellowstone National Park Lodges, which operates the park’s lodgings and eateries, isn’t about to let guests go hungry.

The winter menu boasts more pasta options to sate carbo-loading outdoors enthusiasts. Hearty, braised meats also find a spot in the lineup. And lunch menus take on a ski chalet theme, with locally sourced burgers, bison chili, and hearty sandwiches, says executive chef Mike Dean.

But “unlike our summer business, we see a lot of return guests to Yellowstone every winter, celebrating Christmas or other family events and traditions,” Dean adds. “Because of the return guests, we tend to stick to the tried-and-true.”

Among popular fare: Moose Drool Braised Bison Short Ribs (named for a local brew, not the animal secretion); Tuscan Chicken Linguini; Pork Osso Bucco and Montana Morado Cornmeal Crusted Trout. Another long-time favorite: the Mike Dean Sandwich — grilled turkey on parmesan-crusted sourdough.

Desserts also get richer in winter. Servers at Old Faithful Snow Lodge’s Obsidian Dining Room still scoop local Big Dipper brand ice cream, a top seller throughout the park in summer. But winter delights, like Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake, are guaranteed to satisfy.

Two lodgings, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, remain open for the winter season, which runs from mid-December to early March. But during the 2018-19 season, the Mammoth facilities are undergoing renovations, and won’t reopen until late summer 2019.

Old Faithful Snow Lodge, accessible via specially designed over-snow vehicles, will be wining and dining guests in fine style, however. The staff prepares in advance, stocking non-perishable items in a warehouse at Old Faithful. Produce, dairy, and other perishable fare is delivered every two weeks in special vehicles.

If Yellowstone isn’t on your calendar this winter, here’s a recipe to tide you over until your next visit.

Moose Drool Braised Bison Short Ribs

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 6-8 hours
Yield: 8 portions Portion: 1 rack (3 bones)

10 pounds bison short ribs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
½ pound diced onions
2 tsp minced garlic
½ pound diced carrots
¼ pound diced celery
1 tsp fresh, chopped thyme
4 oz tomato paste
2 cans Moose Drool Brown Ale (or similar)
1 cup Burgundy red wine
2 qts water
1 qt demi-glace, prepared from mix
parsley for garnish


Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. Combine the flour, salt and pepper, then dredge the bison ribs in the mixture. Sear both sides of the floured ribs in the heated pan, cooking to a deep brown color. As ribs are seared, remove from skillet and stand on end in a 4″ deep pan for braising. Do not sear too many bones at one time, or the skillet will cool too much and they won’t brown properly.

When ribs are browned, remove excess oil from skillet, leaving the fond from searing the ribs. Add the diced onions, carrots, celery and minced garlic, cooking until tender. Add the thyme and tomato paste. Add one can of Moose Drool, red wine, and 2 quarts of water to deglaze the pan, and add the seasonings. Evenly divide this braising liquid into the pans containing the seared ribs, barely covering the ribs. Cover the pans with a sheet of parchment paper and aluminum foil, then place in a 275°F oven and braise for about six hours, until the meat is fork-tender and pulling away from the bones. Once the ribs are tender, carefully remove from the liquid and keep warm; stir in the remaining can of beer and the prepared demi-glace mix into the liquid to slightly thicken and enrich the jus.

Serve with creamy polenta, or mashed potatoes. Make sure to serve plenty of the braising liquid and vegetables to accompany the ribs. Garnish with parsley.

How to Explore

With nine unique lodging options, including the renowned historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park Lodges allows you to savor the parks’ wintertime fare, including cuisine, activities, and wildlife. Staying in the park is the best way to experience all it has to offer, including the exciting wildlife watching. Once the day-visitors leave, Yellowstone remains for the in-park overnight guests alone. Yellowstone National Park Lodges offer tours and activities guided by Certified Interpretive Guides that help create memorable experiences. For more information on lodging, tours, and vacation packages, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges.com or call 307-344-7311.

For a multi-day visit of Yellowstone, consider the six-day guided walking tour from Country Walkers, “Montana & Wyoming: Yellowstone,” or the six-day walking tour from VBT, “Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s First National Park.”

For more than 39 years, Country Walkers has provided active and immersive travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. VBT offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 27 different countries and 10 U.S. states. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit VBT.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.

For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.

Written by: Jayne Clark

Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.

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