Beyond Jackson Hole skiing and the typical ski town pleasures lies Wyoming’s other winter world – hushed, snow-encrusted and rich with wildlife. Closed to traffic in winter, Yellowstone National Park becomes a magical playground where the animals outnumber the humans – except for those lucky few enjoying a guided snowcoach safari with Wildlife Expeditions of Teton Science Schools. Jackson Hole’s premier and original safari provider, Wildlife Expeditions offers tours of the changed winter landscape to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Dec. 15, 2015 – March 15, 2016. And Teton Science Schools’ expert biologist guides provide an insider understanding of the local wildlife, habitat and conservation issues that deeply enriches the dramatic visual experience.
Comfortable new Wildlife Expeditions custom Mercedes-Benz safari snowcoach includes a handy sunroof for viewing Yellowstone winter wildlife (photo by Jay Goodrich).
“Winter provides an entirely different experience of Yellowstone,” says Teton Science Schools’ Biologist Paul Brown. “Without the crowds it really becomes the wildlife’s world. Bison often gather around Yellowstone’s thermal features like Old Faithful Geyser to forage and conserve energy, and winter offers a special opportunity for possible sightings of wolves, whose breeding season is in February with pair bonding starting in December. Then of course there’s the unmatched snowy scenery – the landscape blanketed in white with crystalline frost around geyser basins and deep untracked snowfields.”
Wildlife Expeditions’ guided winter Yellowstone safaris include:
The full-day Old Faithful Winter Expedition provides a unique perspective on Yellowstone’s geothermal features in a dramatic winter landscape. Experienced guides share the unique thermal features of Old Faithful, Upper Geyser Basin and West Thumb Geyser Basin. $375/participant or the expedition can be privately arranged for $2,625.
The Grand Canyon Winter Expedition, also a full-day tour, brings guests to the dramatic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and its massive Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls – often encased in an icy veil. White snow covers the colorful canyon walls for a sight unique to winter tours, and the expedition also visits the Hayden Valley, Mud Volcano and West Thumb Geyser Basin. $400/participant, or privately arranged for $2,800.
Wildlife Expeditions’ Yellowstone winter safaris may spot wildlife including elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, trumpeter swans and eagles. Guests begin their travel from Jackson, Wyo. in wheeled vehicles. At Flagg Ranch just south of Yellowstone they enter the heated comfort of custom-designed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter snowcoaches designed with rubberized Mattracks® for extraordinary traction to make their way over the snow-packed roads in Yellowstone National Park. Breakfast and lunch are provided along with the use of high quality optics, Yaktrax traction devices and walking poles (National Park entrance fees and gratuity not included). Customized winter expeditions to provide nordic skiing, snowshoeing, photography and wildlife viewing, as well as chartered multiday expeditions are also available starting from $1,425 per snowcoach/day.