Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Yellowstone in Winter, Day 2

The second day of our adventure involved two shuttle rides to get us to the Old Faithful section of the Park. The first was a large bus that drove us from Bozeman, through Paradise Valley, to Mammoth Hot Springs, the Park's north entrance. We had about an hour there to walk to the travertine terraces that are the highlight of the spot. We then boarded our 15-passenger Snow Coach to ride on the unplowed, snow packed roads to the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful.

Because President Trump's government shutdown includes the Department of Interior, we were unsure until the last minute whether the National Parks would be closed and our trip would be cancelled. However, he allowed the concessioners who operate the lodges, shuttles, and tours to continue to use the National Parks, although all federal employees were furloughed.

There were no rangers taking entrance fees or monitoring the north entrance when we drove through. Most noticeable to us was the large number of snowmobiles on the roads. Yellowstone allows only 200 snowmobiles per day into the Park. They must enter in groups no larger than 12. Drivers must be 18 and have a drivers license. The concessioners must provide  training to the machine drivers and must have a licensed guide with each group to keep them on allowed roads and assure safety. The machines must be of the most up-to-date technology to minimize pollution. Rangers assure the rules are followed, but there are no rangers now and rules were clearly not being followed. We saw many young teens, but hopefully they were not the drivers.

The Visitor Center at Mammoth was closed as was the one at Old Faithful while we were there. The roads in the interior are not plowed in winter; they are groomed by Park employees. The concessioner that runs the Snow Lodge hired groomers to assure safety. We saw one snowmobiler overturn his or her machine on soft snow at the edge of the road. We heard of another who fell, with her machine, into a river. The folks who told us about it had been in a Snow Coach right behind her. She was not with a sanctioned group. The Snow Coach passengers called 911 and a helicopter landed on the groomed road to take the woman to a hospital.

We had a totally delightful ride on our Snow Coach. The driver-guide stopped foe about an hour at one of her favorite places in the Park, Norris Geyser Basin. It was our first really snow view. Most of the trees are lodgepole pines. The snow was piled on their branches. The earth was boiling up from the volcano beneath us. It was the first of many breathtaking walks in the Park.

It was almost dark when we arrived at the Snow Lodge. It did not disappoint. The lobby is beautiful. In front of the huge fireplace, chairs are arranged around tables with puzzles and board games, and people working them. Our comfortable second floor rooms were just off a loft overlooking the lobby. My hand soap was shaped like a teddy bear. There are no televisions.  The dining room was efficient and relatively quiet. The staff were great. It was hard to turn in on such a day, but we had a trip to the Great Continental Divide at 7:45 the next day, so we had to give up before too late.
Roosevelt Arch leading into the Park
Buildings at Mammoth appearing on our horizon
Travertine cone

travertine terraces
Boarding the Snow Coach for the several-hour ride to Old Faithful

Early view from the Snow Coach
Obsidian rock that has been found traded by the Native Americans as far east as Ohio
We walked way down there at Norris Geyser Basin, our stop along the route into the interior of the Park

Lodgepole pines in the snow
Pines and geysers

hot, blue earth

rivers of green

Stay on the walkway!
Walking back up to the bus

What an introduction!
Snow Lodge lobby from our loft lobby perspective

View out my window right over the entrance to Snow Lodge

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