John from Arctic Bound and Wildfoot Travel has taken a few winter days out with his wife to travel to Yellowstone National Park and see it the way very few people are able to – in Winter.
For just a few weeks in midwinter the northern area of the park by the Gardiner entrance opens to visitors with limited facilities, namely the Mammoth Springs Hotel. At this time the Yellowstone Association runs a limited series of semi- educational programmes based on the winter wildlife and especially the wolves and this is what really appealed to wildlife enthusiast, John. The following are his early impressions.
You really have to be on a mission to travel to remote northern areas in February! We flew out of a snowy Manchester into an even more snowy Frankfurt, where our flight to Denver was delayed awaiting de-icing for over 3 hours. That meant we missed our connection to Bozeman, so had to overnight and take an early flight the following day, which actually brought us back on to schedule and we picked up the bus for the 2 hour drive to Yellowstone as planned.
There was some wildlife on the way – bird life in the form of ravens and bald eagles plus lots of deer and some semi tame bison wandering on the grass verges in the town of Gardiner. Then through the impressive entrance gate to the park, which was established in 1872, and on to the Mammoth Springs Hotel.
The first thing that surprised us was the lack of snow on the ground. It appears that temperatures over the last few weeks have been well over freezing and much of the usual snow has melted. This has also had an effect of the wildlife and there have even been sightings of Grizzlies in the park, woken early from their hibernation.
And then, the hotel itself, a real 1930s edifice with the sort of always-on heating you world expect. Surprisingly good dinner and then an extensive briefing on what to expect over the next few days. Really ready for bed after two days of travelling and up early tomorrow…