Trip Number: 12421A
Staff: Rob White
- Cross-country ski near Yellowstone’s geysers
- View abundant wildlife with a former Yellowstone National Park interpretive
- Warm your toes with seven nights of lodging
- All breakfasts and lunches, and one dinner
- All lodging
- Airport pick-up and drop-off
Photo: Rob White
Join Sierra Club trip leader Rob White and Julianne Baker, a widely recognized
Yellowstone Association Institute field guide and former Yellowstone National
Park interpretive ranger, for this unique opportunity to see the world’s
first national park (and now International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage
site) in all its winter glory. Yellowstone National Park’s 2.2 million
acres offer exceptional scenery, steaming geothermal features, diverse wildlife
and plant communities, and great skiing. Each day we’ll ski the trails
and backcountry, accompanied by Julianne, who will share her knowledge in wildlife
biology and winter ecology. In the evenings, we’ll retire to cozy lodges,
eat delicious meals, enjoy any available NPS slide shows and discussions about
the park, and share the company of our fellow skiers.
The landscape of Yellowstone today reflects its dynamic, volcanic past. Three
gigantic eruptions occurred in the last two million years, the most recent of
which formed a huge volcanic caldera (28 by 47 miles) in the heart of the park.
The forces behind those eruptions still power Yellowstone’s famous geysers,
hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots. In fact, the park has more than 10,000
geothermal features (including Old Faithful) -- more than any other place in
the world. Of these volcanic treasures, Sierra Club founder John Muir wrote
The park is full of exciting wonders. The wildest geysers in the world,
in bright, triumphant bands, are dancing and singing in it amid thousands of
boiling springs...and hot-paint pots, mud springs, mud volcanoes, mush and broth
Yellowstone also offers abundant wildlife, which is easy to spot in winter
when large mammals congregate in thermal areas and catchbasins in search of
food. The greater Yellowstone ecosystem contains North America’s largest
herds of elk and free-roaming bison. A herd of 43,000-plus animals remains in
the park, a tiny portion of the over 60 million animals that once populated
this continent’s grasslands. Yellowstone is also the new home of a population
of gray wolves -- imported from Canada in a successful reintroduction program
-- along with deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and other mammals.
Photo: Rob White
Day 1: Arrive at the Bozeman airport no later than 2:00 p.m.
Our van departs for the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel at 2:30 p.m. On our two-hour
drive to the park, we’ll stop for wildlife viewing if the opportunity
presents itself. After arriving at the lodge, we’ll check in, enjoy a
delicious dinner and then have a welcome orientation/evening planning meeting.
Day 2: After breakfast, we’ll decide between three ski
options: Bighorn Trial (five and a half miles), the Bunsen Peak Trial (six miles),
or the Indian Creek/Bighorn Loop Trail (eight miles). All trails offer spectacular
views of the nearby mountains. Field topics will include mammals and winter
ecology. The evening will be yours to enjoy a soak in the lodge’s hot
tub or to take advantage of any available slide show/evening program.
Day 3: We’ll travel by snow coach (four and a half hours)
to the Old Faithful Lodge, stopping along the way to view the many geysers and
hot springs and ski to Fairy Falls/Imperial Geyser. After arrival and check-in,
we’ll hike or ski (one mile) around Old Faithful. Your evening is free
for exploring the beautiful Old Faithful Snow Lodge, our home for the rest of
the next two nights.
Day 4: Today we’ll ski the DeLacy Creek Trail to Shoshone
Lake via a snow coach drop-off (eight miles). After dinner, we’ll spend
the evening relaxing around the lodge, enjoying the large stone fireplace and
a beverage of your choice.
Day 5: We’ll travel by snow coach (four and a half hours)
back to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, stopping along the way to visit the Grand
Canyon of the Yellowstone River and ski from Inspiration Point to the Upper
Yellowstone Falls (four miles). After arrival and check-in, we’ll tell
stories around the dinner table and get reacquainted with the historic Mammoth
Hot Springs Hotel, our home for the rest of the trip.
Photo: Rob White
Day 6: After a hearty breakfast we’ll depart for a
trip to the Lamar Valley, where wolves and wildlife abound. Known as the Serengeti
of North America, the Lamar Valley is sure to be one of the highlights of your
trip. After our wildlife outing, we will then ski the Baronette Trail (three
and a half miles), a thickly wooded, deep-snowed wonderland. A soak in the lodge’s
hot tubs is available after dinner for those so inclined.
Day 7: Today, we’ll ski the Chittenden Loop Trial (510.3
miles) or the Blacktail Plateau Trail (eight miles). After a final dinner together,
we’ll spend the evening relaxing around the hotel, while enjoying the
ambience of the historic lobby.
Day 8: After breakfast we’ll return any rented ski equipment
and then depart for the Bozeman airport or the hotel of your choice. Expect
to arrive in Bozeman around 10:30 a.m.
Note: Ski itineraries are subject to change, depending on skiing abilities,
interest, snow, and weather conditions, etc.
Trip participants will be picked up at the airport in Bozeman, MT and shuttled
to Yellowstone National Park at the start of the trip. Trip participants will
be shuttled back to the airport in Bozeman, MT at the conclusion of the trip.
Shuttle services will also be provided throughout the trip.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Rob White
The trip includes seven nights’ lodging, all breakfasts and lunches,
and one dinner. We’ll stay four nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
-- named after the nearby colorful, steaming cascades of stone known as Mammoth
Hot Springs Terraces -- and three nights at the brand-new Old Faithful Snow
Lodge, a five-minute walk from Old Faithful Geyser in the heart of the park.
All transportation is provided on the trip: van pick-up from the airport in
Bozeman, Montana; travel by snow coach from Mammoth to Old Faithful and back;
shuttle snow coach rides to various ski destinations; and a final van drop-off
at the Bozeman airport at trip's end.
Standard arrangements are for double-occupancy rooms for all participants.
Private rooms are also available, but numbers are limited, so reserve yours
early. The cost for a private room upgrade for the duration of the trip is $500.
Indicate your preference for private rooms to the leader and he will inform
you of options and payment details.
Photo: Rob White
A minimum skiing ability of "intermediate beginner" is suggested.
Skiers should be able to ski rolling terrain and control speed and direction
with a basic snowplow. Most of the terrain we’ll cover is not steep, but
good balance and a familiarity with varied snow and trail conditions are necessary.
Participants should be in good physical shape. There will generally be two ski
options offered each day: a shorter trip of 3-7 miles and a more strenuous option
of 7-14 miles. Participants may also take non-ski rest days on their own at
Equipment and Clothing
Rental x-country ski equipment (including boots) is available at Yellowstone
National Park. Equipment & clothing needs include:
Small piece of closed cell foam to sit on snow
Sunglasses and/or goggles
Pocket hand & foot warmers
Mid-weight insulating layer -- wool or fleece
Waterproof & windproof outer layer -- jacket & pants
Pants -- wool or fleece
- Yellowstone National Park: http://www.nps.gov/yell/
- Yellowstone Association: http://www.yellowstoneassociation.org/
Yellowstone National Park and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are facing
a number of conservation issues today. As in so many wild areas, the clash between
wilderness preservation and human use is evident in many ways:
- Heavy use of snowmobiles. On a busy winter day, up to 800-plus machines
enter the park from West Yellowstone, and some of the smoggy two-cycle engines
may spew more than 1,000 times the emissions of a car.
- Migration of bison out of the park on roads used by snowmobiles and other
vehicles. They are often shot once they leave the park because they carry
brucellosis, a bacterial disease of concern to the cattle industry.
- Reintroduction of the gray wolf to the park, which sparked vocal opposition
from local interests.
- Introduction of exotic trout species in Yellowstone Lake.
- The impact of human visitation (over 3 million people per year, 20,000 per
summer day) on wildlife, thermal features, and other natural resources.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Rob White has been a member of the Sierra Club since high school and has been interested in preserving and protecting the outdoors for as long as he can remember. After obtaining a master's degree in park and recreation administration, he accepted a position at Rocky Mountain National Park as a ranger/naturalist. He now works with the Colorado State Park system as a park manager. Rob continues to hike extensively in Rocky Mountain National Park.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips