GPS Coordinates: (Latitude, Longitude, elevation)
Old Faithful area: 44.46050 -110.82886, 7348 ft.
Pet-Friendly: No, unfortunately. Dogs are allowed in the park, but not in the Snow Lodge, which is the only place you can stay.
Motorcycle Friendly: Nooooo. While you can technically ride your bike in the park, in winter you can only go as far as the Mammoth area, only 5 miles inside the park from the northwest entrance. In winter, snow tires are required on that short five mile stretch to the facilities at Mammoth.
Hiking Statistics: We went on several hikes around the various geyser basins and a few other features at the park, but mostly short hikes after being taken to the area on snow coach. In addition to hiking some of the packed trails, we also did some snowshoe hiking and cross-country skiing.
|Bethany and Rick at Kepler Cascades|
|Old Faithful erupting - note the|
lack of people around it
|Bison use their head to move snow out of the way|
to find grass to eat
|Godbeams shine through the steam and|
rime frost near the mud volcano
|Bison along the Firehole River|
The majestic Old Faithful inn is completely closed all winter
|LPT type snow coach|
|Tracked type snow coach for deeper snow|
|A group of bison is called an "Obstinacy".|
This is why.
|Fox near Fishing Bridge at Yellowstone Lake|
|Coyotes near the Madison River|
Note they are using the path plowed out by a bison
|Trumpeter Swan taking flight from the Firehole River|
|The Lion Geyser erupting - Upper Geyser Basin|
|Thermal Features in the Old Faithful Area|
|Across the Great Divide!|
Rick and Bethany at Lake Issa
|Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin|
I mentioned that we had learned quite a bit on our first trip to Yellowstone in the winter. There were a few lessons learned, and I'll detail those so that next time we will be even better prepared, and hopefully this will help others get the most out of this winter wonderland. Here are my tips and tricks:
- Make reservations early. Christmas time at the Snow Lodge is special, so if you want to go during the two weeks around Christmas, you need to
Rick at Solitary Geyser
- Stay at the Snow Lodge itself. We booked a premier lodge room, but there are lower priced cabins available and we considered that. Speaking with other guests who didn't make reservations early enough and had no choice but to book a cabin, they all wished they were in the lodge itself. Otherwise, every time you need to eat a meal, catch a snow coach, etc., you have to bundle up and make the trek over to the lodge. If it is -17 degrees, that's kind of a hassle.
- Dress for the weather. Do not be deceived by some of the photos of us
Timing is everything with photography.
Sometimes, it's cold enough to make
your nose run. Know what I mean?
- Gloves and boots need insulation too. I had a good pair of gloves with
Godbeams in the steam at
Dragon's Mouth Hot Spring
- Take hand warmers and toe warmers. Sometimes, no matter how good your boots and gloves are, they need a little help. These little packets of warmth activate when you take them out of their sealed package and generate heat by an exothermic reaction for several hours. I don't advertise or endorse any products in my blog, but HotHands brand were the ones that seemed to have the best results when I did my research, and we got a case of the ones rated for 10-hour life to
Bison near the Middle Geyser Basin
Note the rime frost buildup - their insulation is so good,
this will not melt until sunlight warms it enough.
Bison don't even feel the cold until -20F to -40F.
- The cold can zap your battery. If you do any photography (and who can resist in a place like this?), expect to have shorter battery life. In addition to keeping your hands warm, those little hand warmers you put in your pockets can help here as well. Keep your battery and spare battery in a pocket with a hand warmer and it will last much longer.
- Take sunscreen, lotion, and sunglasses. Because it is very cold and very high altitude, it is also very dry and very little protection from the sun's UV rays. It was overcast about 3/4 of the time we were there, but when the sun is out, the reflection off the snow is blinding. Even without many sunny days, my face got pretty sunburnt.
- Plan your time in the park before deciding to take snowshoes or ski equipment. Remember you will be transitioning from your vehicle to snow coaches. If you catch a flight into Bozeman and take the shuttle to
Geyser by the Firehole River
- With subzero temperatures and even a slight breeze, your face and nose
Bethany with half-face mask
protection and no fogging
- Staying at the Snow Lodge is a little pricey. In my opinion, it is well worth
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River
Note the huge ice mound at the base
- The Snow Lodge was never designed to be the technologically connected
Bethany and Rick near Fountain Paint Pots
Note the buildup of rime frost in Bethany's hair
from steam freezing on the hair
- Yaktrax will help with traction. We did not take Yaktrax, a traction device
Bison near Nez Pearce Creek
- Take your passport. No, you won't have to have it to enter the park. It seems like another planet, let alone another country, but it's actually on Earth right here still in the good old USA. But at a couple of areas, such as the Canyon visitor center, they leave the passport stamp and inkpad out so the ranger there can stamp your passport.
- Take your Senior Pass (aka Golden Passport, Parks Pass, America the Beautiful Pass, and many other names). It is still a national park, and lifetime passes to get into not only national parks but a bazillion other campgrounds and other recreation sites controlled by virtually every federal government agency. I got mine from the USGS online store but could have gotten it at National Forest offices in my area. It will get you and your car full of people into the national parks for free the rest of your life, so that's what you call a pretty good deal.
|Blacktail Deer near Mammoth|
|Big Horn Sheep|
|Bull Elk between Mammoth and Tower areas|
|Diamond Dusting with Bethany|
on the trail up to the Observation Point
|Morning Glory Pool|
|Bridge over Firehole River|
Note the snow is as high as the handrails
|Roosevelt Arch at northwest entrance|
"FOR THE BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT OF THE PEOPLE"
It's our park, people. Please take care of it.