Friday, January 1, 2021

Yellowstone in winter: greet 2021 with nature's delights in an uncrowded wonderland

 



If you visit Yellowstone National Park on a warm winter day between snowstorms you'll see bison 
snacking on the grass that must sustain them until the spring rains bring fresh grazing material.

PARK'S WONDERS UNFOLD IN A CLOAK OF SNOW, ICE AND STEAM


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Christene "Cookie" Meyers, left, awaits entry to the coach.
YOU'LL SHARE Yellowstone's wonders with its four-footed inhabitants if you venture into the country's first national park this winter. There's no better way to celebrate the breakthrough with COVID, and hope for a healthier, more normal 2021.

The glorious hot pools in Yellowstone are a 
wondrous sight with the steam and snow.

In Yellowstone National Park, winter means seeing the park in a new light -- fewer crowds, frigid temperatures, and steaming geyser basins.  No shorts and t-shirts. Jackets, tights, warm boots. 
FOR A FEW months each winter, snow coaches are the only vehicles to traverse the park's inner roads.  "Oversnow" travel 
means snowmobiles and snow coaches, the only travel allowed.  The season ends in mid-March, when plowing crews begin clearing a winter's worth of snow. Down the road, as spring comes around mid-April, temperatures begin to climb, roads start re-opening and normal cars can begin touring. 
 Meanwhile, beginning around this time of year in mid-December, roads in Yellowstone open to limited snowmobile and snow coach travel. This means the only way to visit the park's iconic wonders -- including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other geysers, hot pots, steaming cauldrons and canyons -- is by guided snowmobile or snow coach, or through the non-commercially guided snowmobile access program. Most stores, restaurants, campgrounds, and lodges are closed during winter. 
Hiking, snowshoeing, nature viewing, 
bird watching await in a winter park experience. 
A series of warming huts are open for cross-country skiing, and ranger-led programs are offered periodically for winter guests at Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. (Check the websites because the hotels are not scheduled to reopen until winter of 2021.) Park partners and other businesses offer guided activities and trips during winter, and there are "COVID" precautions in effect.
WE FOUND our winter snow coach tour through Yellowstone offered a remarkable connection with nature in a winter wonderland I'd not seen in my many trips through the park. We spotted wildlife at a relaxed pace and were warm, even cozy, inside our coach. It's a much different experience than the summer-autumn visits I've enjoyed all my life.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is a rustic get-away in winter.
It is closed because of Covid, but park officials say
the plan is to reopen later this spring.

Winter in Yellowstone does indeed deliver, as the brochures promise, "a more intimate experience" -- fascinating snowy landscapes, and frosty animals. We could see steam from the bisons' mouths as they grazed in a plain where snows had nearly vanished.
Keller and Nick enjoy R&R in 
Kelly Inn in West Yellowstone.





WE STAYED in two places, two different winter sojourns: Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. But COVID has thrown a wrench in in-the-park lodging. You can stay in West Yellowstone, where we recommend  Kelly Inn for its comfy, western inspired rooms, pet-friendly ambience and closeness to the wonders of the park.
When Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel opens again, it provides a rustic wintertime place to stay, and a 10-minute walk from Mammoth Hot Springs,
Geyser basins and hot pools take on an other-worldly look, induced by cold temperatures. One might call them canvases of fire and ice. The winter experience also offers opportunity for photography, skiing, snowshoeing and wildlife watching. Explore the winter experience through lodging, snowcoach tours, skiing and snowshoeing, packages, and snowcoach transportation.
yellowstonevacations.com/guided-tours/snowcoach-tours-wy; yellowstonekellyinn.com/

Alex Trebek's final "Jeopardy" show airs
Jan. 8, followed by a tribute package
celebrating the popular host's legacy.
UP NEXT:  
 Alex Trebek's final "Jeopardy" episode airs Friday, Jan. 8, so we celebrate the life and legacy of this master wordsmith, congenial host and compassionate, brave human being. We have some inside info on the future of the popular game show as well. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at the arts, nature, travel, family and more. Please share the link with like minded friends: whereiscookie.com






3 comments:

  1. 0hio Nature LoversJanuary 2, 2021 at 3:50 AM

    One of the most beautiful places in the world!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jasper Travel LoversJanuary 2, 2021 at 6:06 PM

    lovely piece to begin the new year....all the best to our favorite traveling team....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tallahassee Trail BlazersJanuary 3, 2021 at 7:52 AM

    Great winter story on a park for all seasons.

    ReplyDelete