Mixed experience here.
Yellowstone is one of natural wonders of the US. I was SO excited to see the park in winter via a snowcoach tour, take photos and learn more about this marvelous place. That was well worth the $267 for the daytrip I thought. Most of the basics of the snowcoach tour w/ Rocky Mountain Snowmobile/ Snowcoach were met: on-the-dot 6am pick up time; full, hot breakfast; water in the van; pleasant, kind driver; timely arrival at the park.
It was snowing very hard when we entered the park and it seemed we were the first people to enter the park from the South based on the snow tracks. Our driver said not to worry. As we got deeper into the park though and it was snowing more, she started to seem worried and wanted to get to the first stop so she could talk to a ranger to see if "we would even make it to Old Faithful". I had asked her in the beginning if she should radio ahead and find out the conditions and she said they don't do that unless it is an emergency. But then she started to sound worried, which in turn made me worry.
During the ride, it was relatively quiet in the van. Our driver did not provide much commentary. I assumed she was focused on driving - of course the right thing to do. But even when I did ask questions about the park, there were really very few she could answer in detail - even basic questions like how many visitors visit the park per year (standard wikipedia fact). She did answer some questions and was nice enough about it but clearly was not someone who has great knowledge of this place, which is what you expect from a "guide" - who is somene different from a "driver" or a "chaperone" who just gets us from point A to point B safely, which of course is important. But I view a guide as someone who really knows where he/she is taking us. She even talked about how she went from a desk job to this job. So in short, it seemed this was a "job" for her.
When we got to the first stop, West Thumb, the ranger said the weather was fine and we could continue on our way. Our driver said we could explore the surrounding thermal area by ourselves for 20 minutes and be on our way. Ok.
Next stop - near a river just shy of Old Faithful, where we saw a BEAUTIFUL HUGE bison in the distance! It was incredible and our driver allowed us plenty of time to get out & take photos. I heard another snowmobile guide talking about the bison so I listened in.
We then had lunch at the Geiyser Grill & headed to Old Faithful for the eruption. We were not rushed. Our guide told us to listen to the ranger's explanation of OF which we did. The eruption in winter is nothing to write home about. A white rush of water, over white snow in front of a snowy background... but still cool. After the eruption and lunch, we headed North to Biscuit Basin I think it is called (our driver was nice enough to take us a bit further north to see this place where we saw TONS of bison - maybe 50-70 - 3 separate heards)! We spent about 10 minutes there. There was a walkway where I saw 2 groups walking to get very close to a couple of bison. I estimate for me to go and come there it would have taken 15 min max. This in a 12 hour day. But she said we did not have time and we needed to get back due to the snow. Nobody else in the van wanted to walk either so I was outnumbered. Rush, rush. But I still longed for a beautiful "up close" of a bison.
On the way back we saw more bison from a distance and a coyote! When we saw a snowmobile flip on the opposite side of the road, our driver promptly stopped and helped flipped the snowmobile right sideup. Talk about a powerhouse - kudos to her! On the way back, we stopped at a waterfall and other winter scenes of creeks/ rivers which was great. But on the way, I specifically asked if we could stop where we saw the first bison near the river to try and get my "close up". She slowed down there and as we crossed the bridge I looked back and down near the the road/river, the bison was right there! I asked her to stop. It would have taken TWO seconds and I could have taken the photo that I really wanted right from the van. It was a perfect, yet safe photographic vantage point. But she kept driving and said "she did not see the bison" How could she? It was on the right side of the vehicle and down the slope. But I TOLD her and I SAW it. But she chose to keep going. I'm sitting in NYC still dreaming about that almost-photo.
When we left the park, and entered the highway - to top it off - the van had a problem and could not drive us back to town. The company had to send another driver and the other passengers had to wait another 1.5 hours for that driver to come from town to then drive them back. I was LUCKY that some friends on a snowmobile trip behind us had space for 1 person in their van to bring me back to town in a timely manner.
I highly recommend seeing the beauty of Yellowstone in the winter but I suggest doing your research before you chose your company.
PS) I've put this review both here & on yelp to help more people decide who to tour with.
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