Planning a winter visit to Yellowstone? Making the most of a winter visit to Yellowstone National Park (seepage 56) takes careful advance planning. Here are some options toconsider. Getting to Yellowstone is the biggest challenge.
Major gatewaysare the Montana towns of Bozeman on the north, West Yellowstone on thewest; another is Jackson, Wyoming, on the south. (Two eastern entrancesare used only by snowmobilers.) In good weather, the park is a reasonable day’s drive fromSalt Lake City, a long day from Denver. From West Coast cities,it’s two long driving days to West Yellowstone (about 16 hours fromSeattle, 20 hours from Los Angeles).
Most Western cities have connecting flights to Bozeman–mostconvenient gateway for a park visit–and Jackson. At our press time,the least expensive round-trip fares from Seattle, San Franciscco, andLos Angeles started at $290. Those who fly to gateway cities won’t need a car. Except forthe 47 miles of plowed road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, parkroads are officially closed to wheeled vehicles from November 1 to May1. Snowcoaches shuttle visitors from three park entrances.Snow-grooming machines smooth park roads for snowcoaches and private orrental snowmobiles.
There is bus transportation (about 3 hours) from the airport atBozeman to Mammoth (round-trip fare is $21 for adults, $10.50 for ages 4to 10) and West Yellowstone ($19 for adults, $9.50 for children). Snowcoaches inside the park provide both transportation and tours.
As these 10- and 15-passenger coaches traverse snowy roads, the moreloquacious drivers give a good introduction to the winter-bound country.Stops are made at several roadside attractions; unscheduled pauses aremade to watch wildlife. Tours have the same itinerary and cost asscheduled runs. Round-trip snowcoach fare from Mammoth to Old Faithful (4 hourseach way) is $48 for adults, $24 for ages 5 through 10; from WestYellowstone (2 1/2 hours) $39 for adults, $19.50 for children. FromJackson (6 hours: by bus from Jackson to Flagg Ranch, then by snowcoachto Old Faithful), fare is $61.
40 for adults, $30.75 for children. Lodging in the park is limited to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and OldFaithful Snow Lodge–both good bases for park exploring. A room for two at the refurbished 1937 Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel(100 rooms) costs $40 with bath, $27 without. Prices for one of the 91 rooms and cabins at the Old Faithful SnowLodge cost the same as at Mammoth. The rooms at Old Faithful, whichserve as dorms for summer help, looked tired and worn on our visit lastwinter. Still, TW Services, park concessionaire since 1979, is improvingpark facilities. Meals in dining rooms at both areas were moderatelyexpensive, but among the best we’ve had in any national park.
Warming huts at Madison Junction and Canyon Village serve basicsnack fare heated in microwave ovens. On Saturdays, Roosevelt Lodgeserves a hot buffet lunch ($4.95). Two tour packages. One break for families is a week-long packagethat includes six nights’ lodging at the Mammoth Hotel (you can,and should, request two nights at Old Faithful), round-trip transfersfrom Bozeman airport to Mammoth, snowcoach transport to Old Faithful,ice-skating, and a sleigh ride; cost is $175 per person, $35 for ages 5through 10. A two-night package at Mammoth only, including lodging andone night’s dinner for two, costs $85 per person.
For details or to reserve park transportation and lodging, write toTW Services, Inc., Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. 82190, or calltoll-free (800) 421-3401.
Motels in West Yellowstone and Jackson also offer attractivepackages, but are not convenient to major park attractions. For helpwith airline reservations and lodging packages, consult your travelagent.