Friday, November 24, 2017

Yellowstone Park in winter: beautiful, chilly home on the range for snow coach visitors

Snow coaches are the way to see Yellowstone Park in winter; Cookie prepares to board on a recent visit. 

HEATED SNOW COACH PROVIDES PERFECT PARK VIEWING, BUT DRESS FOR THE COLD IN THE FREEZE  

Bison are built for winter, and this guy stops snow coach traffic
to make his his way across a road in Yellowstone during winter.

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

THE SNOW actually seems to float upwards.  Sure, it's also coming down, and going sideways. "It's slanted snow," one youngster whooped in delight, as our snow coach slowed for a bison crossing.
The critters have frost on their ears and icicles on their eyebrows.
Better have a wool scarf, warm socks and a good cap because you will feel the chill, no kidding.
WE'RE IN ONE of the only vehicles allowed in much of the park -- snow coaches that is -- and it's a typical Yellowstone winter.
Except for a stretch 
In Yellowstone National Park, winter means seeing the park in a new light -- fewer crowds, frigid temperatures, and steaming geyser basins.  For a period each winter, only snow coaches can traverse the park's inner roads.  "Oversnow" travel usually ends in mid-March, when plowing crews begin clearing a winter's worth of snow. Usually, as spring comes and temperatures climb, roads start re-opening to normal cars. This usually occurs by mid-April.
Keller and Cookie enjoyed a winter trip to the park last 
February.  


 


So how cold does it get -- really?
I asked a park ranger on our last frigid visit. He said temperatures range from zero to 20F (-20C to -5C) throughout the day. Sub-zero temperatures are common, especially at night and at higher elevations.
THE RANGER pointed out that while some people complain about cold and snow, winter provides a better opportunity than summer to view wildlife and birds.We saw eagles and bison, elk and even a solitary moose. We
This beautiful hawk doesn't seem to mind winter, for the snow makes it easier to view and find a snack.
The absence of leaves also makes it easier for us to see him -- here, on a cottonwood in West Yellowstone.
saw hawks that we'd have missed in summer,
The river is not quite frozen, yet, but will sport ice in 
the shallows as winter progresses.
standing out in the winter trees in a way they don't in full foliage of warmer seasons.
In early winter, one can hear elk bugling, and watch elk and moose looking for girlfriends.






























 In Jackson Hole to the south, one can take a sleigh ride through an elk herd.
 IN YELLOWSTONE, winter offers a chance to cross-country ski past geysers, snowboard near Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins or watch wolves in Lamar Valley.
The warm and inviting Old Faithful Snow Lodge is welcoming, 
warm and cozy after a day of snow play and critter viewing.
There are also photographic tours of the park during winter, and many ways for travelers to combine their lust for "the great photo" with a pleasant wildlife viewing outing.
WE LIKE to stay a night or two in West Yellowstone before and after a tour. Snow coaches also leave from Gardiner.  Beware, though, if you plan to drive the park on your own, the only road open year-round to regular traffic is from the North Entrance at Gardiner, through the park to Cooke City, via Tower Junction. Travel east of Cooke City via the famed Beartooth Highway is not possible from late fall to late spring.
WEATHER permitting, roads will open to travel soon by snowmobile and snowcoach next month:
Dec. 15: West Entrance to Old Faithful, Mammoth to Old Faithful, Canyon to Norris, Canyon to Lake, Old Faithful to West Thumb, South Entrance to Lake, Lake to Lake Butte Overlook.
Dec. 22: East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass)To find out more:
yellowstonepark.com/park/yellowstone-road-access-winter

Elegant artwork from Europe's largest private collection greets visitors
to Barcelona's Claris Hotel and Spa in Barcelona's Eixample District.
UP NEXT: What makes a splendid hotel? Claris Hotel and Spa in central Barcelona is a showpiece in Spain, an elegant, renowned property with a private art collection endowed by the Derby Hotel Groups' owner, whose art treasures compose Europe's largest private collection. The hotel,  in the renowned Eixample district of the city, has a five-star reputation for luxury, on the vibrant Passeig de Gràcia, with a stunning rooftop bar, a knowledgeable and multi-lingual staff, proximity to Gaudi sites and pampering amenities. Come splurge with us, remembering to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post anew, a fresh approach to travel, nature and the arts.

2 comments:

  1. Looking forward to your southern Europe posts, too. Need to warm up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. New friends from ItalyNovember 27, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    Enjoyed Yellowstone winter piece and can't wait for the Eixample-Claris piece. We love that graceful corner of Barcelona.

    ReplyDelete