Photo archive: unedited photos of the trip
The final leg of our return ride -- a 22-mile jaunt
through sun and snow -- left us all breathless. Several times we rounded
a corner and were confronted by the awesome, rugged beauty of the Tetons."
" If you're in Jackson and can tear yourself away from the slopes for a day, a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone is well worthwhile."
Yellowstone's frozen beauty wows us
Spiney watches Old Faithful erupt at Yellowstone National Park.|
An eagle appears out of nowhere, hanging momentarily above the steaming geyser before soaring off into a brilliant blue sky.
After the eagle is clear of the area, Old Faithful erupts, sending steam and water high into the air while we stand there watching, still stunned by the sudden appearance of the eagle and mystified by the geyser's workings.
Kevin is a master of understatement.
The eagle at Old Faithful was only one example of the wildlife we saw during our snowmobile ride in Yellowstone National Park. Several times we had to slow to a crawl to creep past a massive bison that had decided to stake his claim to a section of the trail.
And wildlife isn't the only reason to visit Yellowstone in the winter. The park's geothermal features take on an eerie look as the earth's heat bursts into the cold air. Old Faithful is only one of many geysers and other geologic oddities that dot the park.
At West Thumb Geyser Basin, we watched an ice-coated bison forage around amid the steaming landscape for food. We saw bubbling mud pots and hot pools that were nearly 200 degrees.
Our snowmobile guide, Kevin Rutsch, tells one of his stories to our group as another group goes past.|
Against all warnings, the guy jumped in to try to save his dog. Bad move. Bystanders managed to fish him out, but he died shortly after. The pool had literally cooked him, leaving him with third-degree burns over 100 percent of his body. As for the dog, well ... the poor mutt turned the hot pool into a giant vat of canine soup.
We pulled over repeatedly during the trip while Kevin, a guide for Jackson-based National Park Adventures, described in detail the history and geology of the park. He says he and the other guides compete to see who can tell the best stories, and his knowledge of the park was incredible.
The other thing that made this a perfect day was the weather. We had sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures (in the upper 20s). Kevin said the trail conditions were the best he's seen all season. There had been a dusting of fresh snow overnight, and the night before that brought 20 inches.
The final leg of our return ride -- a 22-mile jaunt through sun and snow -- left us all breathless. Several times we rounded a corner and were confronted by the awesome, rugged beauty of the Tetons. Spiney, my lovely and talented wife and Go West cohort, had been afraid an all-day snowmobile tour would be too grueling. But after talking to a few folks who had taken them, we decided to give it a try. It's really not too tough and most people who are in reasonable shape should be able to handle it. Our group included a retirement-age couple from Maine and a couple who own a grocery store in Oregon, and we all fared quite well.
If anything, it ended much too soon. If you're in Jackson and can tear yourself away from the slopes for a day, a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone is well worthwhile.
No, it's not Mad Max. It's just me on
This story orginally ran on Go West, an ill-fated outdoors site that I was the content manager of in 1996-1997