the great american west [in winter]
Many of the trips we took as a family growing up were road trips. It was cheap and a wonderful way to cover lots of ground in a single trip. The National Parks were always a memorable stop. There was a specific summer we drove over to Wyoming and visited Yellowstone. I remember packed sandwiches, lots of mountains, watching a Japanese SPAM commercial being filmed, looking for black bears and stop after stop to see geysers. My very favorite memory was visiting the Old Faithful Lodge. I can still smell the timber scent of the hotel lobby as we came in from watching famed geyser. It felt so haunted and also so comforting. Such grandeur for being so far out in nature.
It would be another some 15 years before I would venture back, this time in winter and in a much different mode of transportation.
While I was doing winter content for Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, we got the opportunity to visit Yellowstone for the day on a special bombardier tour. This was the brightest, sunniest day of our whole time in Montana. The full day tour started at the West Entrance where no cars where allowed to enter the park from. Our traffic was snowmobile groups and other fellow winter snowcoaches.
I was particularly impressed with the way we so smoothly glided along the road. The cabin didn’t have heat, remote windows or circulation but was full of rustic charm. We cozied up to our companions and enjoyed the ride.
Our destination was Old Faithful for a lunch break and sightseeing around the visitors center village. It was so different in the snow, we gathered with the crowd and watched. Somewhere in the mix, I caught glimpse of a familiar face. I had made it back to the place I had thought of so fondly for so many years, the Old Faithful Lodge.
We approached it from the geyser side, saddened to see that it was closed for the winter season. It didn’t stop us from trucking through the deep snow to get a glimpse inside. Just as I remembered. I could’ve explored the grounds all day, it was so eerie and told so many stories just in it’s quiet stillness. Our time ran short and back to the coach we had to go.
We trekked back to the entrance, making a few scenic stops along the way.
This mini adventure through the wintery wonderland of Yellowstone is one of my favorite travel memories to date. The Bombardiers were such a unique way to trek around and the awe of seeing the park covered in snow blankets is something I will treasure until the next time I return.