We stopped off at the Lewis Falls on the way out of Yellowstone. The angle of the falls from the road meant I had not even noticed them when we drove into the park but, coming back south, they were easily seen ahead and off to the right of the road. Temperatures were not so low that the falls were frozen up and they looked very pretty. Given the number of vehicles in the area, everyone was stopping to take a look too.
We had visited Old Faithful on a previous trip to Yellowstone and had stayed near the falls. Therefore, I was not so desperate to see the geyser again. However, in the middle of winter, things are a lot quieter than during peak season so it was quite interesting to be there with so few people around. The geyser erupted not long after we arrived. It was quite a different experience. The low air temperatures meant that the hot water produced a lot of steam as soon as it emerged. The clouds of steam drifted downwind but they concealed the flow of water to some extent. Still, it was an impressive sight to witness and even better on a crystal clear day.
Buildings designed for snowy environments have pitched roofs to stop too much snow accumulating. It can gradually shear off the building, sometimes in the form of snow sheets and sometimes, courtesy of some melting, as giant icicles. Wandering around the buildings in Jackson and Yellowstone, I was taken by the large sheets of snow and ice. The visitors’ center at Yellowstone had a particularly large amount of snow drifting off the roof and obscuring the view out of some of the windows. Other icicles looked rather precarious and, if you should find yourself beneath them when they fall, it could be detrimental to your health!
I posted pictures of the snowcoaches in use within Yellowstone but I left one type out. This appears to be the original design for snowcoahces and they are known as the Bombardier’s. I assume this is because the Canadian manufacturer of snowmobiles was involved in their creation. They have a cool body styling and they can get up some serious speed. However, I understand that they are cold and rather uncomfortable. Therefore, I was happy to watch some passing by rather than ride in them (although it might be fun to see how fast they really are).
The colorful pools of hot springs in Yellowstone can be quite stunning to see. Visiting in the deep of winter means they are surrounded with snow and ice but a lot less people. The colors are still there but the low temperatures mean that clouds of steam form above the surface. Gentle gusts of wind might briefly blow the steam away to reveal the intense colors beneath but the steam rapidly returns. As you look into the pools you can see the colors well but it makes for a harder time getting photographs. You give it a try but then just spend time enjoying the impressiveness of the pools.
For my birthday, Nancy took me on a trip to Jackson Hole. Part of the trip was a journey in to Yellowstone National park in a snowcoach. The snowcoaches are modified vehicles to handle to snowy terrain. They come in two main forms. One is the tracked vehicle and the other is based on monster truck tires. The one we took was tracked. It was a pretty standard van design with four wheel drive but the wheels had been removed and replaced with triangular track arrangements called Mattracks. These can deal with pretty much any snow. The only downside is that they are a bit noisy, not too fast and boy do they guzzle fuel. One our trip we stopped for fuel twice and were pretty low by the time we got back.
We also saw some of the other vehicles out and about. The monster truck tired vehicles can attain better speeds and efficiency (plus the maintenance is so much lower) but they are not as reliable in dealing with the worst of the conditions. However, they do seem to be the way that everyone is going. Our guide told us the tracked vehicles are gradually being replaced. It should be noted that, after the winter, the tracks are taken off and they revert to normal road use.