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Yellowstone National Park is no longer the lightning rod it once was regarding whether snowmobiles should be allowed. But the tug of war that tightened when a decision announced in the waning days of the Clinton administration was then immediately reversed by the incoming Bush administration is still at play. In marked contrast to the big headlines and charged rhetoric of the past, however, Yellowstone’s gateway communities and businesses have changed their winter business models to match the shifting profile of the average winter visitor. While some businesses look wistfully back on the days when thousands of snowmobiles could be buzzing around Yellowstone on peak days, others are flourishing by chasing an evolving market – away from snowmobiles and toward snowcoaches, cross-country skiers and visitors much more focused on learning about Yellowstone, rather than riding through it on nimble two-stroke snowmobiles. “In a nutshell, this is as different as day and night,” said John Sacklin, Yellowstone’s chief planner.

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone: Past and Present

Yellowstone National Park is no longer the lightning rod it once was regarding whether snowmobiles should be allowed. But the tug of war that tightened when a decision announced in the waning days of the Clinton administration was then immediately reversed by the incoming Bush administration is still at play.

In marked contrast to the big headlines and charged rhetoric of the past, however, Yellowstone’s gateway communities and businesses have changed their winter business models to match the shifting profile of the average winter visitor.

While some businesses look wistfully back on the days when thousands of snowmobiles could be buzzing around Yellowstone on peak days, others are flourishing by chasing an evolving market – away from snowmobiles and toward snowcoaches, cross-country skiers and visitors much more focused on learning about Yellowstone, rather than riding through it on nimble two-stroke snowmobiles.

“In a nutshell, this is as different as day and night,” said John Sacklin, Yellowstone’s chief planner.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Snowmobiles were first allowed in Yellowstone in 1963 and attracted growing legions of motorized recreationists eager to explore the park. By the late 1990’s, the winter experience in Yellowstone – and particularly the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana – was characterized by swarms of two-stroke snowmobiles that were noisy, polluting and quick to accelerate. When peak visitation days combined with cold weather inversions, Park Service staff piped oxygen into gateway shelters to counter the buildup of smoky exhaust and carbon monoxide. In little more than three decades, winter visitation in the late 90’s rose from mere handfuls to 150,000 visitors.

In 1997, animal rights group Fund for Animals filed a lawsuit to ban grooming on all park roads, effectively banning snowmobiles. Upon settlement of the suit, the Park Service conducted an environmental impact statement that led to a 2000 decision to ban most snowmobiles by 2001 on grounds the machines damage the park’s air quality, wildlife, natural soundscapes and the enjoyment of other park visitors.

That decision was then suspended by the Bush administration. A series of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits filed by snowmobile interests, conservationists and local governments eager to help winter businesses followed. The Park Service conducted a series of studies and plans that ultimately called for best-available-technology (BAT) snowmobiles, mandated guides for visitors and caps on numbers of snowmobiles and snowcoaches allowed on any given day.

All those studies cost $10 million and invariably concluded the best way to protect wildlife, soundscape and natural resources was to ban snowmobiles. During the Bush administration era, the Park Service never picked the alternative that would best protect the environment.

In the mid- to late-2000’s, the daily cap on snowmobiles bounced around a bit, but fell over time from 720 to 540 to the 318 of today, while the daily cap on snowcoaches has remained constant at 78.

A CHANGING EXPERIENCE

The BAT requirement resulted in a massive market shift from the two-stroke engines to quieter, less polluting four-stroke engines. These heavier machines were more suited for touring than thrills. At the same time, the requirement for trained guides put the kibosh on bad, spontaneous behavior like buzzing wildlife, racing or leaving groomed roads to “highmark” nearby slopes.

As for snowcoaches, passenger numbers climbed. Drivers doubled as guides, providing running commentary on what could be seen from the snowcoach, and readily answering questions from customers. Snowmobile groups also had guides, but interaction was limited to when the groups periodically stopped.

“We’ve had a number of customers who first came out to ride snowmobiles, then shifted the following year to snowcoaches, because they liked learning more about Yellowstone,” said Randy Roberson of Yellowstone Vacations in West Yellowstone. His 33-year-old business has been evolving from an emphasis on snowmobiles to an emphasis on snowcoaches. More and more, he said, visitors are coming to Yellowstone with cross-country skies, snowshoes, cameras and spotting scopes in hand.

Indeed, of this summer’s public comments on the new winter use plan, the Park Service received 9,099 pieces of correspondence during the scoping period.
From these, it coded 13,932 comments. Of these:

* 7,332 supported a snowcoach future for Yellowstone (53 percent)
* 424 supported the “Plow Roads” Alternative (less than 3 percent)
* 65 were coded as supporting more snowmobiles (less than 1 percent)

SNOWMOBILES FOREVER!

That’s not to say that there aren’t still ardent fans of snowmobiles out there – the entire Wyoming Congressional delegation, for example. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, as well as U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Republicans, have all called for continued use of snowmobiles and higher numbers of snowmobiles than currently allowed.

Last year, during confirmation hearings for Jon Jarvis as the new superintendent of Yellowstone, Barrasso pressed hard for Jarvis to commit to a future for snowmobiles. “At this point I cannot commit one way or another,” responded Jarvis. “I don’t know the details of this, but I do commit to winter use and winter access, and a sustainable decision, one that can provide continuity and planning for the gateway communities and for the park itself.”

But even strong supporters of snowmobiles acknowledge that the situation probably wasn’t sustainable back when peak days saw 1,400 snowmobiles in the park.

“We were victims of our own success,” said Clyde Seeley of Three Bear Lodge in West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone went from one to two strong seasons between 1970 and 1990.

“People just couldn’t believe the beauty of the park in winter,” said Seeley. He compared the introduction of snowmobiles to Yellowstone to the arrival of passenger trains in 1908. “People came from all over,” Seeley said, referring to both developments.

The snowmobile boom led to the construction of a new Holiday Inn, plus 10 other hotels.

But when the pendulum swung toward restrictions and whether there would even be a season, gateway communities that had come to depend on winter travelers suffered.

In the last few winters, said Seeley, most of those new hotels haven’t been open.

Uncertainty kept winter visitors away from Yellowstone in droves. Even when 740 snowmobiles per day were allowed, average numbers didn’t approach half that number. Every business that depended on snowmobiles in surrounding gateway communities felt the pinch.

West Yellowstone, for example, once sent 1,300 snowmobiles into the park on peak days – many were rented two-stroke snowmobiles. This winter, West Yellowstone is allowed 160 snowmobiles per day in the park – four-stroke snowmobiles that must be rented, all with best available technology (BAT) to make them quieter and cleaner. None can be taken into the park without trained guides.

“One hundred and sixty snowmobiles is not enough” for a local economy that built a commercial infrastructure designed for 1,300 machines on peak days, Seeley said. He’d love to see a cap of 720 snowmobiles per day, but thought 500 would work. Even better, he said, would be the variable alternative where gateway businesses could have holiday season peak days again, but that the average would be much lower and therefore sustainable.

Yet in a 2008 environmental assessment, Yellowstone Park officials downplayed the variable approach, saying, “This alternative would allow more vehicles on holidays and weekends and fewer during mid-week periods. This concept was set aside because of the administrative challenge of overseeing variable daily limits and because of the potential for major adverse impacts on the higher use days and denying even more people access on mid-week days.”

OTHER OPTIONS

Over on the east side of Yellowstone (Cody, Powell and Meeteesee), the Sleeping Giant Ski Area has reopened. The area now offers downhill and Nordic skiing, ice-climbing, snowmobiling and snowcoaching outside the park, as well as winter fishing and wildlife watching.

All this came about after a huge controversy to keep open the Sylvan Pass area, an area rife with avalanche runs. Only one or two snowmobiles a day enter Yellowstone from the East Entrance. No snowcoaches ran last year into Yellowstone from the East Entrance and it is doubtful anyone will sign up to do so this year, despite recruitment efforts by the Park Service.

On the south side of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is no longer caught up in the Yellowstone snowmobile issue because that park has its own plan:

* Twenty-five snowmobiles per day, with no best available technology (BAT) or guiding requirement, will be allowed to travel on the Grassy Lake Road to provide access to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
* On Jackson Lake, an initial daily limit of 25 BAT snowmobiles will provide access to ice-fishing opportunities for people possessing appropriate fishing gear and a valid Wyoming fishing license.

Anyone planning to ride into Yellowstone from Flagg Ranch needs to make arrangements to do so on a BAT snowmobile and follow a guide into the park.

About Brodie Farquhar

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21 comments

  1. Don’t you U.S. people ever use your legs anymore? Is everyone too fat to use their lower limbs?

  2. Dee – It’s 62 miles round trip from the West entrance to Old Faithful. Why don’t YOU come down here and snow shoe it!

  3. You have to forgive these foreigners. They have no comprehension and therefore just ignorantly shoot their mouths off. Yellowstone is larger than some countries (and states for that matter). When they hear “park,” they envision something much smaller that would fit into one of their little villages.

  4. Why not mandate electric powered snowmobiles at some point in the future to allow time to develop the technology. That would seem to be a win-win for the user and the year round park residents.

  5. Every year I have friends who ski from West to Old Faithful then the Canyon and back to West over the course of three days. It’s possible, even in a park “larger than some countries (and states for that matter)”.

    So, like Dee said, use your legs more. You might even like it.

  6. Seen it with my own eyes!

    Brodie
    How many engines (cars, trucks, heaters, manufacturing machines) are running in Laramie County everyday? Remember I-80 and I-25 plus Cheyenne. How many pronghorn are thriving on FE Warren Air Force Base? The herd increases every year.
    Now is there any analogous situation between Yellowstone, which is much larger and Laramie County? I think so and when I see the limitation by the Park Service to 720 small engines, they are not relying on science they are using emotion.

  7. Its interesting that although the title says snowmobiling past and present the pictures usually are of the old days of machines that are no longer allowed in Yellowstone. Seems like there is little interest in really showing the pictures of what is really going on in the park at present. The picture is of snowmobiles rouighly 10 years old and they haven’t been allowed in the park since 2004 which is 6 years. Without the disclaimer that it is an old picture of snowmobiles no longer allowed in the park, some take on the issue that is how it still is in Yellowstone. Why not any current pictures?

    Dan and Dee do you really realistically think people can trudge 60 miles round trip in a day on foot or ski from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and back in 7-8 hours of daylight? Many visitors have never even seen snow before. There are no regulations eliminating the ability to ski in the park so if that is what a person chooses then more power to them, just don’t try to eliminate the choices that others may want to use to see the park.

  8. The side bar “So Who’s Winning?” totally misses the point. Yellowstone isn’t about one side or the other’s views. The issue is preserving Yellowstone and still allowing the public to be able to view and enjoy it.

    It is amazing some think that 318 snowmobiles are too many yet are silent about having 30,000 visitors a day and all the rest of the villages and campgrounds around Yellowstone being open in the summer aren’t as much of an impact as the few snowmobiles in the winter when nearly everything is closed in the winter.

  9. Winter in Yellowstone is wildly different from summer. Deep snows and frigid temperatures put all non-hibernating wildlife in stressful conditions, where the added stress of noisy, polluting and racing two-stroke snowmobiles could push some wildlife over the edge.
    Granted, four-stroke machines are a lot better, but they’ve not proved popular with the public. The customers that thrive on noise, speed and nimble handling don’t enjoy “grandma” touring machines, and have gone elsewhere. Increasingly, what’s left are visitors who are most interested in learning about the park by snowmobile or snowcoach, or those who want to combine snowcoaches with cross-country or snowshoeing — not the adrenaline junkies of yore.
    Increasingly, snowmobiles are becoming irrelevant because snowcoaches are doing a better job at catering to the new class of visitors. NPS won’t ban everything, but will likely keep the snowmobile numbers so low that they fade away in favor of snowcoaches. Other than a few die-hards, will anyone notice or regret the passing of the snowmobile era?

  10. If anyone , like John Sacklin the Prime Minister of Yellowstone has objections about personal snowmobiles on Yellowstone’s roads in winter being loud and obnoxious , emitting blue carcinogenic smoke ( and that’s just their owner-operators ) in numbers too high , I would ask this: What about the thousands of Harleys and thousands of diesel tourbuses that chug thru the Park in the summer ?

    Seems to be a lot of hypocrisy on both sides of the arguments here.

    By the way , it took Yellowstone several years to even become aware of personal snowmobiles entering the Park in winter. I was first there on one in maybe 1958 or ’59, a Bombardier prototype. My family and extended circle served as crash test dummies for what later became the commercial “Ski-Doo” line. An excecutive for Bombardier had a winter retreat near Cooke City MT and bestowed his engineer’s latest mechanical incarntions on my dad, uncles, and their outdoorsman cabal, who gladly road the bejeezus out of them .

    There was nobody living at the East Gate of Yellwostone then so we just cruised on by and made our own trail up the Sylvan Pass road. What avalanches?—we loved them. Being a kid then , I only went along on a few of those trips , in a ski-bob trailer behind an early double track monster with an Austrian Sachs rotary engine that had horsepower to burn. My uncles and their drinking buddies had races on Yellowstone Lake, and drove machines way down into the Southeast Arm of the Lake on at least once occasion. Peale Island even, vaguely recall . We had Yellowstone to ourselves, and we owned it in the absence of regulations and staffing in winter. Those were the days. We pioneered the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone, for good or ill.

    Fast forwarding all the way to 1973, some ten years after Yellowstone opened for winter sno-mo travel, I was already totally fed up with the Thrillmobilers. The machines were great, but their owner-operators were reckless arrogant a**holes for the most part, in or especially out of Yellowstone. They needed to develop a ” green” snowmobile that ran on grain alcohol so the ‘bilers could drink enough fuel to crash and burn , thus solving the problem. I gave up the ” sport” of snowmobiling just as it was becoming popular. Not because of the machines, but because of the machineheads.

    Having said that ( and my perspective is unique) , still believe that modern quiet clean BAT personal snowmobiles should be freely allowed in Yellowstone, without commercial guides. I mean , really , they can only be run on highways, and only highways, which are groomed and patrolled and also shared with snowcoaches. The impacts to wildlife are overstated, and the solitude issue goes away once the X-C skiers are a half mile off the road anyway.

    The wildlife, noise, pollution, and Sylvan Pass safety ( avalanche) issues are all grossly exaggerated by John Sacklin and the rest of Yellowstone Park’s management. They are excuses; red herrings; bureaucratic BS as a means to an end.

    The percieved problems with personal snowmobiles in Yellowstone have little to do with the machines themselves and a lot to do with the people on them , or making the innane regulations about them. Snowmobiles have positives and negatives, but so do the snowcoaches. There are roles for both.

    Now, about those diesel tourbuses and loud Harley Hogs and mile-long bison jams in Hayden Valley …in July.

  11. A lot of out of date information on snowmobiles in comments. Main article indicates NO snowmobiles and that is the way they want it. How about NO Park employees, visitors, or vehicles…. that defeats the whole idea of NPS but would cut the budget and polution, unless a forest fire started. Foods for thought.

  12. I’m doubtful that Ken Salazar will ban all snowmobiles — that would generate too much political heat.
    However, I’m also doubtful that NPS will pick the alternative that allows big peak days, as long as it averages out to be a low number. Too many logistical challenges.
    What seems to be left, gazing into my admittedly murkey crystal ball, is leaving the situation pretty much as it is now. Over time, snowmobilers will lose interest in Yellowstone, leaving the park to get their thrills on Forest Service lands. Yellowstone will likely become more oriented to snowcoaches, which can more easily cater to photographers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers, or just plain tourists who are eager to learn more about the park and wildlife. For those target audiences, snowmobiles come up short and are more expensive.
    Minus the thrill factor, guide-led snowmobiles have what pluses, compared to snowcoaches?
    What Yellowstone seems to be doing is to set up conditions whereby snowmobiles will linger, while snowcoaches prosper. The market is now clearly constrained by regulations, but the market also seems to be favoring snowcoaches.
    Or am I missing something here?

  13. Brodie:

    You ask what is the impact of traveling by snowcoach as opposed to sled? Well, as a veteran guide of Yellowstone I can tell you two big factors that are bad about snowcoaches. One is that they are NOT environmentally friendly. The smaller ones burn 1 to 4 mpg depending on snow conditions. They break frequently often leaving large amounts of transmission fluids or differential oil (or even completely burn up) polluting the ground. They are expensive inefficient contraptions that serve no good.

    The correct answer? Just plow the stupid road. Old Faithful to West Yellowstone hardly ever has enough snow to support a full 90 day season. It is ridiculous to invent contraptions that don’t work and burn huge amounts of fuel just so that a few wealthy people can have their vacations subsidized by the Park Service (you are crazy if you think entrance fees cover the costs of grooming and winter use especially if you consider avalanche control on Sylvan). If it is plowed it is affordable for American families and way way way more environmentally friendly.

  14. Todd is right about requiring guides being “demeaning punishment”. First of all, I can say by personal experience that I saw zero thrill riders on the Yellowstone trail in 2000 to begin with. It’s just not a ride that someone seeking thrills would choose. We have extreme riders in our family, and they were with us on this trip. But this wasn’t a place for that type of riding. Not saying it NEVER happened, but there are idiots driving on every road in our country from time to time.

    But our family (being mostly average/touring/trail riders with younger children) won’t go to Yellowstone again during the winter. I’m not interested in being hauled around in a glorified bus with a bunch of strangers, nor in having to follow a snowmobile guide. It was nice to stop when you wanted, where you wanted, spend as much time watching the wildlife or snapping the pictures and video that you wanted.

    I think this is the perfect example of being unable to “go back” once sweeping government regulations are put into place. There were other alternatives to pushing for cleaner machines in the park besides bans; like higher fees for two strokes, incentives for the rental shops to move to 4 strokes, etc.

    I also wanted to point out how sad it was to see the town of West Yellowstone (the town outside the park, for folks who have never been) pretty much shut down in the winter. So many of the quaint little shops close entirely or drop to bare bones staff that only the die hard locals remain through the winter. 🙁 Almost everyone we met this summer was a seasonal resident.

    In the winter of 2000, I was not a snowmobiler. I was a resident of Las Vegas, originally from the midwest, who had never been on a snowmobile in my life. I will never forget reading an AP article in our LV paper about the proposed ban just a few weeks after getting back from the above referenced trip. A few months earlier, I would have “bought it” hook, line and sinker. The idea they were noisy, stinky, and wrecking havoc on one of our great national parks and endangering the fragile wildlife. But I had just been! I had just seen it with my very eyes! Driven around the very non stressed Bison chilling in the middle of the road! The article wasn’t in a partisan or environmental publication, but the information it left out (that there was no off road riding, the groomed trail follows the road and was maintained and patrolled by the park service, etc) would have clearly slanted someone’s opinion who did not have personal experience to know better. That moment was a real eye opener in my life, and I try to consider that every time a topic comes up about geographical issues I may not understand as well as the residents (drilling off the coast for example).

    Now, as a family who lives along the Montana/Wyoming border not far from the park, we have come to view Yellowstone as a tourist destination to avoid. Sad to say.

  15. Brodie, snowmobiles and snowcoaches are used as transportation to see the beauty of Yellowstone. I know of some snowmobile guides that almost exclusively take out photographers to photograph the park. They sit out there for hours to get some amazing pictures so they must be dressed for the cold and the snowmobiler is already dressed for the cold while the snowcoach rider will be adding or taking off clothes. Also if they are moving down the road the snowmobiler has the advantage of being out in the open to pull out their camera to capture a shot while the snowcoach riders have to share getting out one door to get the shot.

    Also when people get out to see the features of Yellowstone in the cold, the snowmobilers are already dressed for it while many snowcoach riders may not be dressed properly to enjoy the cold winter weather. The snowmobilers all have nice suits and boots and gloves on to handle the walking of the boardwalks while some snowcoach riders don’t have a clue what they should wear to be comfortable in the winter air.

    I’m not saying one method of transportation is better than the other but there are many that would rather use the snowmobile than the snowcoach.

    You might want to take a snowmobile tour of the park and you will find that the snowmobile guides are also knowledgable about the park and the wildlife like the snowcoach drivers are so snowmobilers aren’t as disadvantaged as you would think from your comment.

    If you ride double on the snowmobile it is less expensive than many of the snowcoaches so you also come up short again on that comment.

    There is a market for both snowmobiles and snowcoaches so yes you are missing a lot.

    Lets all go visit Yellowstone this winter by whichever choice you want. It is beautiful and quiet in the winter compared to the summer.

  16. Well said Hatley and Shanna! Everyone needs to learn to share, more humans are being born every day and they should be able to see and use the wild places too. Another problem with the very expensive snow coaches is that they cancel the trips if they do not have enough folks to make it pay. That happened to me once after taking one trip in from Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful, I was told after supper that they didn’t have enough folks signed up to make it pay, so they were cancelling. I have not signed up for a snow coach trip since. To rub salt in the wound, on the way back to Flagg Ranch I had a seat with a lady skier who belly ached all of the way about snow mobiles.

  17. Snow mobiles inside the Park do less damage to what is there, than the State of Montana does to the wildlife that leave the park.
    80 year old people would have one heck of a time snow shoeing or skiing to Madison Junction let alone Bathtub and you could forget Old Faithful.
    How many cross country/snow-shoers would make that trip if the trails were left alone? Bet not very darned many. So if you want to cut snow machines cut the groomers too. anyone gets frost bite, etc. has to come out on a travois behind a skier.
    You allow unguided travel, you create jobs for the Park Service. What’s wrong with that? Hire more Rangers. You could still limit numbers or type of machine. There is a happy medium between the Past and the Present.

  18. p.s. Plowing the road isn’t feasible when you consider different snow conditions and snow fall giving the inability to see anything over the plowed edges, not to mention the amount of wildlife ‘trapped’ between the lines of the highway. The horse shoe hill(191 gallatin canyon), and the Duck Creek Y would get elk trapped between the snow banks made by the plows, and cause quite a few accidents/deaths. Of course that was back when we used to get deep snow fall in the 60’s. I do believe the Park continues to get the deep snow, unlike the Gallatin Canyon anymore.

  19. Perhaps some folks never knew and others have forgotten: President Ronald Reagan, in his effort to cut federal spending, was submitting a budget in the early 1980s that asked to close Yellowstone in the winter. As Montana’s U.S. Congressman and later a member of the Budget committee, I objected to the Reagan proposal.

    Then governor Ted Schwinden and I invited the Secretary of the Interior, Jim Watt to join us in a snowmobile trip around the Park. Watt, too, became an advocate for keeping the Park open.

    The Reagan proposal did not receive serious consideration in the then Democrat controlled Congress..nor should it have.

    But I wonder if the more conservative deficit hawks would now want to revive the Reagan idea. It is an interesting question given that many of the snowmobilers I know are among the strongest of the “cut federal spending” advocates. But then I suppose it is the other guy’s enjoyment that should undergo the deficit knife and never our own.

  20. Pat, even as a snowmobiler I think we should consider ALL spending cuts as options. With record visitors this past summer I don’t know what the Yellowstone budget looks like. Maybe that canhelp offset the increased cost of the winter season? Perhaps higher winter rates would also be worth considering? I do think you would have to consider the impact on the residents of West too, though. Taking away the snowmobile market was pretty devastating to the town’s winter economy. Closing the park might be a nail in the coffin to many of the small businesses there.

  21. I’ve been fortunate to spend many weeks in Yellowstone over the year. If you can hike you can get away from the crowds and see thermal features that few people see. But, alas, we age and arthritis sets in on top of all the other surgeries, etc and it is harder to get around.

    I was fortunate to get to spend a week in Yellowstone during a winter in the mid 1990’s. There were 2 of us travelling together. We stopped along with other people not too far from the entrance to allow the bison space to do whatever it was they wanted to do. It brought a whole new meaning to wildlife harrasment. They walked right up to me sitting on my sled, my foot in a brace following ankle surgery. I’m sure I was far more terrified than they were. They sniffed, sneezed and continued walking. They certainly weren’t afraid of me. We pulled in to park in the Upper Geyser Basin just as 2 other snowmobilers were pulling out. A far differen experience than that summer as I nabbed the last parking space there after following a line of cars through the Park. I was able to do a little walking and we saw elk checking out the area with us. Very up close and personal kind of like in the late fall around Mamouth Hot Springs before the wolves were brought in from Canada.

    It was refreshing to go to a town that liked to see snowmobilers and didn’t treat us like hot dogging, pollution spewing rowdies but like people they looked forward to seeing. I bought a 4-stroke snowmobile in 2003 for the 2004 season, but although it is BAT I can’t ride it in the park. Riding with a guide just isn’t the same. I am fortunate that I have memories of the good old days. The Park is supposed to be for the public. It is too bad that a part of the public wants to keep the rest of us out. It really is a special experience that you can’t get anywhere else.

    At least I can still get out on my quiet snowmobile even if I can’t ski any more to enjoy the wildlife and snowy vistas in other areas. There are days I wish the nerves would start working again in my foot so I could go skiing one more time, but that isn’t going to happen. There is a hot spring near by that I can go to and enjoy. As nice as it is, it doesn’t hold the magic of Yellowstone in the winter.