A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

The geysers and thermals in Yellowstone are amazing. Winter is a very time to visit because you have the place almost to yourself. There are a few downsides. The roads are closed, so you are limited to areas served by guides. The bacterial mats in the thermals are dormant, so the colors are a little muted. And it can get really cold.

Other than that, it’s great. I have visited in both summer and winter. I don’t think I’ll ever go back in summer tourist season.

Getting There

Bison jam

As I mentioned, all the roads are closed to wheeled traffic. There are two tour guide companies whose websites clearly indicate they provide taxi service to Old Faithful. Xanterra runs a bus from the Bozeman Montana airport to Mammoth and a snow coach from there to Old Faithful. Scenic Safaris operates taxi service from Jackson Hole Wyoming to Old Faithful.

If you ride a snowmobile, there are more tour options. The Yellowstone Park page has a complete list of tour operators. If you are really lucky, there is a lottery every winter for private snowmobile groups.

Skiing

Isaac leading the group

Yellowstone receives on average 150″ of snow a year. Compared to what we get out east, it’s the glorious powdery kind. Right near the thermals, the snow does melt, so be prepared for a little walking. The park has a page describing all the ski trails.

Park service maps of the Old Faithful area:

Trails

The easiest trails and the trails near the lodge are groomed. Farther out, you may have to break trail yourself. Xanterra offers shuttles from the lodge to these farther out trailheads for a fee

  • Spring Creek trail
  • Divide trail
  • Mystic Falls trail
  • Fairy Falls trail

Once you get a mile from thermals, you are unlikely to see anyone.

Geysers

Lion group errupting

Of course, one of the main attractions is the geysers. The national park site describes each geyser.
Last time I visited back in the 90’s, you had to stop by the ranger station in the morning for the day’s predicted eruption times. Now there’s an app and a website for that.

Equipment

John pulling Isaac in the pulk

You can of course bring all your own gear. The snow coach services haul your luggage in and they have racks for skis. Additionally, the snow lodge has a fully stocked ski shop where you can rent skis, poles, and pulks. It is first come first serve, but you can rent for the whole time you are there and just return the equipment at the end. We rented a pulk in 2016. It was the type with a wide sled bottom that can go off groomed trails.

Past Trip Reports

2016 week long trip