Excerpt from an interview with Jason Smith of Scenic Safaris.
To talk about Togwotee and the Togwotee Pass, the framework from the park and how the Yellowstone National Park is set up for seeing the park, that’s great because you get to see Yellowstone in the National Forest, you kind of switch roles in that essentially in the National Forest and then and Togwotee Pass specifically you’ve got options that you’re not allowed to do. In Yellowstone, for example, we can go into a meadow a couple miles down the trail and if the whole group wants to just play and drive and ride and go as fast as that snowmobile wants to go we can give them parameters and sit them in these big massive meadows and say, all right, go have fun.
If that’s what they want to do, we do that. Vice versa. If you want to go see different smaller trails where they also take different paths, we do that. We’re actually on a trail system, not a roadway so on the Togwotee we are even sometimes going down horse trails or small little paths that go into and out of very secluded areas. North of Jackson there’s not a whole lot of wildlife in those areas.
There is some, but there’s not a lot because there’s typically 10 to 15 feet of snow. Any of those ungulates don’t have the option of getting down to grass very much. We do have some moose that live in the area because they are forged in the winter time it’s kind of popping out of the snow. The elk and the bison don’t go into the hills at Togwotee. The Togwotee trip and that area is generally set up for a more adventurous situation.
On Togwotee at any point when guests ask to get more adventure, you can turn it up a couple of notches really within a couple of hundred yards. There’s 2.5 million acres of national forest there and it allows us to drive wherever we see fit. So essentially what happens sometimes on these tours is a guest says, I want to go to the top of that now. All right, well let’s go follow me. And in Yellowstone we don’t have that option, we stay on the roadway.
That’s great for Yellowstone because we’re not impacting anything off trail or off the road, but you are staying on the same road that you drive in the summertime and at Togwotee it’s kind of a more open experience and you can, you can get as intense with back country operations as you’d like or simply do a trail ride with a family because you’ve never been on snowmobiles either.
Do you need a guide to go there with you or can you do it by yourself?
We have several options in Jackson when we as a company. Scenic Safaris rents snowmobiles and a lot of people do take advantage of the rental program because they are proficient in snowmobiling or have gone into the area for a long time. People do rent sleds and totally go by themselves. They ask us questions of where to go and things like that. We’re happy to help you. By no means do you have to have a guide, however I would highly encourage anyone that is not a many time returner to the area that you should seriously consider taking a guide for your first couple of experiences. Personally I run into people every single year at least three or four times that find themselves outside of their comfort zone and need a little assistance so that they don’t spend the night outside in the snow.