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Few questions about planning winter trip

Seattle, Washington
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Few questions about planning winter trip

Hello, I'm still doing my research to optimize our mid-Feb trip, so we'd see more and spend less time just driving around in snow coach.

I have few questions that I hope somebody can clarify.

I called Xanterra today and to my surprise they said there is no way to get shuttle from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful. I was hoping to use WY as a base on a way to OF and back and now I'm not sure I can do it. Are there any other companies that can run shuttles from WY to OF?

If I decide to stay at Mammoth Springs as a base the day before and after and take Xanterra snow coach shuttle - do they make any stops at interesting places on a way, like Norris Basin or all time is spent in riding? I called Xanterra today and unfortunately I didn't ask all the questions, they said there is shuttle departing Mammoth to Old Faithful: depart: 7:30 am and arrives at noon, and for the shuttle back she said it departs OF at 1:30pm and arrive to Mammoth at 6 pm, which means it takes 4.5 hours - does it really take that long for direct shuttle, or does it mean shuttle makes several stops on the way?

I also have a question about Canyon tour from OF - does it go via West Thumb or via Norris basin? Trying to decide which location to take Canyon tour from, and I'd love to see West Thumb in winter - one of my favorites parts of the park.

Now I'm considering using Mammoth Hot Springs as a base, and since the trip looks more expensive that I have originally anticipated I'm looking for most budget options - I can see Mammoth Hot Springs has rooms with shared bathrooms - how far is the walk in the hallway to the shared toilet / shower and how many people sharing it? Just thought how long walk I need to make if I need to go in the middle of the night.

Will really appreciate replies, I plan to call and make final booking soon, but really looking for advice.

Thanks,

Anna

Billings, Montana
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for Yellowstone National Park
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1. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

Snow coaches have to go very slow so yes, it takes that long to get from Mammoth to Old Faithful. One winter we took the Canyon day snow coach tour from Mammoth and it was 9 hours from start to end with a lot of time in the snow coach. Even with crappy weather that day it was still a great trip and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Depending on the weather and snow conditions they will go down into Hayden Valley a ways. We were just able to go down to Alum Creek as it was near blizzard conditions.

We also did the snow coach from Mammoth to Old Faithful to stay two nights. No real scenic stops along the way though you will see plenty of scenery. If I ever did the trip again the shortest I'd stay would be 3 nights. You arrive in the early afternoon so really only have a few hours of daylight the first day and you leave early in the morning on the departure day so with two nights we really only had one full day. It just wasn't enough to do what we wanted to do.

The day snow coach tour from Old Faithful to Canyon goes via Norris and over to Canyon.

Private snow coach companies can take you from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful for day tours only. The only way you can go to Old Faithful to stay the night is to use Xanterra snow coaches. Xanterra must have dropped their West Yellowstone snow coach routes as they used to have them. They even had an express one from West Yellowstone. I just checked their website and they are not showing anything from West Yellowstone for the 13/14 winter season.

yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/winter-act…

Deb

Edited: 20 August 2013, 03:13
Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

Thank you very much for clarifying some aspects, even if I thought I had enough days one shuttle a day with fixed time really adds limitations. Based on what I was reading all people say "I wish I'd spend more time at Old Faithful" and if I go there it would be sad to spend a whole day in snowcoach going up the same route as Mammoth - Old Faithful shuttle. :( Still looking for the most optimal plan trying to fit duffernt options ...

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

I don't think I can squeeze time to stay more than two nights at Snow Lodge and I'd better stay in one base - WY or Mammoth and take tours from there.

Some tours from WY to Old Faithfull offer an option to do cross country skiing last 2.5 miles, which sort of gives experience of being outdoor and enjoy scenery, but there is so much more we could do if we stay at OF Snow lodge.

Billings, Montana
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4. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

If you want to spend nights at Old Faithful the package deals that include snow coach transportation, lodging, and breakfast buffet each morning is the way to go. You will also get 10% off all other tours you take from OF and snowshoe/ski rentals. The 10% will also work on all your purchases such as food/gift store stuff.

Yellowstone in the winter is going to be expensive. If you base yourself out of Mammoth, besides going down to Old Faithful and Canyon, you can drive your car on the road between Mammoth and Cooke City. Lamar Valley is great for wolves in the the winter and Feb is mating season for them.

Lamar Valley Feb 2011

…photobucket.com/user/…202011

Mammoth to Canyon Snow Coach trip Feb 2011

…photobucket.com/user/…202011

Old Faithful 2012

…photobucket.com/user/…202012

Deb

Billings, Montana
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5. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

If you're interested in cross country skiing, West Yellowstone has a great facility for it. My grandson and I have talked about just going to West Yellowstone some Feb just for skiing.

http://www.rendezvousskitrails.com/

There are a lot of private companies that provide snow coach tours out of West Yellowstone if you want to go that route. A list of permitted winter companies (there are 6 listed for West Yellowstone):

www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/wintbusn.htm

Deb

Edited: 20 August 2013, 03:55
Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

Thank you very much again for the reference!

A couple of weeks ago I booked 4 nights in WY (Yellowstone Lodge) for 276 total for 4 nights, just to secure some lodging while I'm doing more research (can cancel that booking), and of course, compare to that price any lodging packages inside YNP seem more expensive, snowcoach tours seems to be more expensive with Xanterra too than those operated from WY.

I looked at 2 nights package for OF with extending it to stay one night before and after at Mammoth, and it will cost about $1430 for two.

I would be willing to spend more, but with shuttle logistics I'm afraid I won't be able to enjoy my stay because of many relocations, almost every day - I don't plan to rent a car and will have to rely on shuttle from Bozeman airport.

If I decide to go with Xanterra and chose Mammoth as entry point, then my itinerary may look like that:

- Wed night: flight Seattle - Bozeman

- Thu: shuttle Bozeman - Mammoth (should arriving around 1:45 pm), probably will have time to walk to the terraces

- Fri: 7:30 to 12 pm: snow coach to OF, few hours for skiing, snowshoeing or walking

- Sat: Tour to Grand Canyon (?) - that will take a whole day, so not that much time at the OF area

- Sun: morning free time, shuttle to Mammoth at 1:30 pm, arriving 6 pm

- Mon: might have time for Lamar valley van tour in the morning, then shuttle to Bozeman at 3:45 pm, won't be able to catch flight back to Seattle that day, so will have to leave early morning on Tue

Could be OK, if everything goes as planned, but I don't see that much flexibility, while I feel I have a little bit more flexible options while staying at WY, but maybe it's illusion. If we stay at WY I'd like to try sledge rides, and explore some cross country ski trails, although I'm not a big fan of hills (I ski pretty well on downhill skis, but going down the hill on cross country skies feels very scary and less controlled :) ), and of course take Old Faithful and Canyon tours.

7. Re: Few questions about planning winter trip

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