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As the temperature drops and the snow piles high, the park takes on a special drama and grace. The tourist crowds thin, replaced by cross-country skiers silently swooshing along marked trails. Shaggy-coated bison pick their way through the deep snow to warm themselves in geyser basins, waiting for a waft of hot stream from shimmering thermal pools. They retreat a few paces as a hot spring suddenly erupts, sending an arc of boiling water high into the frigid air.

A little way off the main geyser trail and into the forest, the sense of quiet and isolation deepens. The only sound is the plink-plink of a frozen waterfall as it slowly melts onto the dark rocks below. A line of paw prints leads from the waterfall and disappears into the trees, their branches heavy under the weight of freshly fallen snow. A wolf or coyote, perhaps? Unnerved, you retreat to a fireside armchair at your lodge, lost in thoughts of the wild land beyond the frosted windowpane.

Make it happen
There are no direct flights to Jackson Hole airport, just over 50 miles from Yellowstone. American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta and United Airlines fly from London via various US cities, from £500.

Car rental companies operate from the airport, with daily prices starting at around £35 per day (jacksonholeairport.com).

Many hotels close for the winter months. The closest hotel to the geyser area that remains open is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. It's decorated in pioneer style with elk and bear motifs; there's a restaurant on-site and the hotel can also arrange tours into the park (from £45; yellowstone nationalparklodges.com).

6. Korea's ice festivals
For much of the year, the sancheoneo - a species of trout - leads a blameless life in the rivers around Hwacheon, a town that lies in the mountains northeast of Seoul. When the cold, dry Korean winter arrives, the rivers freeze over and the sancheoneo disappear under 40cm of ice. And then the trouble starts.

Every January, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival brings a sudden energy to this quiet corner of the country. Hundreds of thousands of thickly clad visitors swarm over every frozen surface to try their hand at ice-fishing. Barbecues come as naturally to Koreans as baguettes to the French, and the smell of charcoal fires wafts along the banks, ready for the latest catch. For a few visitors, dropping a line through a hole in the ice to catch their fish is just not enough of an experience. Dressed in T-shirts and shorts, they plunge into a pool of nearfreezing water and learn just what slippery customers trout can be.

Make it happen
Fly to Seoul from Heathrow with Korean Air and Asiana (from £750 return). A new train line should be complete in December 2010 between Seoul and Chuncheon - the nearest city to Hwacheon (korail.com). Otherwise take the bus to Chuncheon and change for another bus to Hwacheon (£8; see narafestival.com for details).

Chuncheon is handy for staying nearby. Most hotels do not have English websites, but there is a listing at en.gangwon.to. Sejong Hotel and IMT Hotel are good choices. In Seoul, the enchanting Tea Guesthouse gives you a rare chance to stay in a hanok - a traditional-style Korean house (£55; teaguesthouse.com).

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