Excerpt from an interview with Jason Smith of Scenic Safaris.
What’s there to see along the way during the snowmobiling trips to Old Faithful?
There’s a lot of different features. There are the remnants from the forest fires 1988 where massive sections of the Yellowstone and wilderness were burned in 11 different locations throughout the park that burned about 40% of the park. There are massive canyons with native cutthroat trout along the Lewis River corridor or the Lewis Lake. There is Old Faithful to Grand Canyon, hundreds of geysers, thermal features, mud pots, and hot springs. Every thermo feature has a little different experience because of kind of the heat that’s coming up through the Earth’s crust. Essentially, Yellowstone is one big underground plumbing feature with a lot of hot material coming to the surface and the temperatures range from every thermal feature from regular water spring’s coming out of the ground to 210 degrees ones. The tiny microorganisms that live inside those areas and inside those very volatile systems are quite unique and like nothing else you’ve ever seen.
Can you do the Grand Canyon and the Old Faithful in the same tour and do you advise that?
It’s not something that we advise? The lower loop of Yellowstone from the south entrance is 158 miles and it has been done over the years but we don’t offer that as a standalone tour. If people specifically request, I want to do the loop trip because we’ve been going up there for 10 years and in that specific conversation, we may take exception and say okay we can do this. But as a stand-alone, we don’t offer the loop of Yellowstone. The Old Faithful and Grand Canyon are on opposite sides of the park and it’s just it just seems to push people to much by doing the lower loop in one day.
Are the Grand Canyon falls in Yellowstone frozen over in winter and worth seeing still?
They are not frozen over. They flow year-round. What does happen is the over spray from the drop of the falls will settle at the bottom of the canyon and on those really cold days and weeks during the season, it will build an ice shield up next to the waterfall. That’s actually pretty impressive in itself. You know I’ve seen that ice shield essentially be 300 feet tall, you can still see the waterfall and it’s gorgeous. It’s one of my favorite views of the entire park and such an iconic spot, especially being on that North Rim that we’re allowed to go on now you can get one of the most magnificent views from up top looking down to the waterfalls so you can see them year round. The parts of the river will be frozen over and parts of the river will be free flowing above and below the falls that changes week by week and month by month depending on current temperatures. But the waterfall is always moving.
And what’s it like to view the Geysers and the thermal features in winter versus the summer?
The first thing that people will notice is the smell is mitigated a little bit. In the winter time the rotten egg smell gets dissipated by the cooler temperatures. A lot of the thermal features that in the summer smell much more intensely with that rotten egg sulfur smell. Often times we’ll walk through and not really notice the sulfur at all. So that’s one difference. The other difference is the amount of people that you’re around. Most folks don’t realize how secluded they actually are. And at the end of the day, it feels like they’re on their own little private snowmobile or snow coach experience because the groups spread out through the an entire corridor in three different directions to and from Old Faithful around the entire park for a multi-day trip. And they go into the Grand Canyon side so there’s really several sections that these groups you can be visiting and it’s kind of a tranquil feeling like they’re by themselves is one of the experiences people talk about a lot.