Happy 2012! I know, I'm a few days late...but the new year is still fresh. We kicked off our new year with a visit to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. After our fall visit, I decided that we needed to take advantage of having such an incredible place in our backyard, and committed to visiting at least once a season.
We journeyed in by snowcoach, which is much slower than car...gives you plenty of time to soak up the beauty of YNP's winter wonderland. Eagles stand out against the snowy backdrop (we saw 8), steam rising from the geysers and thermal areas lend an eerie effect, and animals like buffalo and elk move about sluggishly (kind of like the snowcoach) to conserve energy. Animal tracks abound in the snow, weaving together many individual journeys. Trumpeter swans are perfectly color coordinated with the winter landscape. It felt like we were inside a snow globe.
If you've ever been to Old Faithful during the summer, you might remember the crowds more than the geysers...I'm here to tell you that winter is the time to go geyser gawking. Our first morning, 6 year old and I were the only ones out watching OF erupt. Then we put on our snowshoes to explore Geyser Hill and the 10+ other geysers and pools on the way up to Morning Glory Pool. Again, we pretty much had them all to ourselves. I kept thinking how they seemed more magical 1. without swarms of people around 2. with their fire and ice effect, steam against snow. The majority of the world's active geysers are right here - only 4 other places in the world have similar concentrations of hydrothermal features. (And there're not exactly easy to get to: Russia, Chile, New Zealand, and Iceland.)
I highly recommend a winter visit to YNP...but if that's not happening for you, check out Tom Murphy's photography book, Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone's Winter Wilderness. Our upcoming January Winter Wonderland & Wellness yoga retreat is sold out, but you can still join us for the March 1-4 retreat - ask me, I'll help you plan an add-on trip to Yellowstone!