Fred and I have travel luck. Raya was called in to work on her day off, and there were two available seats on her snowcoach. This was on the list of things to do but everything had to line up just right. Raya has been a winter guide at Yellowstone for 8 years, but this is the first year that she has not been a snowmobile guide, driving snowcoach exclusively.
Snowcoach is not easy to drive. It is kind of like driving a snowmobile, which is kind of like driving a water ski but on the snow.
Raya is the tour guide you want. She knows her stuff. Three Bears Lodge is where her tours are booked.
A dormant eagle's nest.
There is a herd of bison in the background behind us.
Yellowstone is the only place in the United States that bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.
When we left West Yellowstone it was snowing and windy. Raya wasn't sure if we would be able to see anything. The weather improved throughout the day; by the end of the day we had sun and blue skies (although I am sure it never surpassed 20 degrees). Raya said she had never seen the weather change so much in one day.
There are four types of geothermal features in Yellowstone; hot springs, geysers, fumeroles and mudpots. The differences between the features depend on amount of water, whether pressure builds, and what state of matter is released. We have seen them all but never in this much the snow. When you are in Yellowstone you feel like you are on a different planet, the snow just amplifies the effect.
We strapped on snow shoes and walked around Geyser Hill while waiting for the geyser to erupt. It was almost impossible to get a picture of Old Faithful erupting because of the color of the sky but we did see it.
All of the colors near the geothermal features are a result of different species of bacteria. This bacteria mat looks like land from an airplane.
The Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful geyser are behind us.
On the way back to West we took Firehole Canyon Drive. Behind us is Firehole Falls, a 40 foot waterfall.
The hill behind Fred shows the caldera rim, the top of the rim used to be surface of the land before the Yellowstone caldera was formed.
After the best snowcoach tour ever we ice skated in West (no bones were broke!...obviously Fred did not strap on skates). Raya's friends' Brad and Madeline (whom we stayed with) joined us. We had to rent the ice skates for 5$ from a local sporting goods store but there is no cost to enter. The rink is created by the firefighters who use their fire hoses to fill the area (I guess they have some extra time in the winter).
We love the Northwest!