One of the truly special winter experiences visitors to the Jackson Hole area can give themselves is touring Yellowstone National Park on a snowmobile. With Scenic Safaris’ snowmobile tours you’ll get to see the park as very few do — with no crowds and no cars.
On a Scenic Safaris’ snowmobile, you are as wild and free as the bison you’ll see along the way up to Old Faithful.
Scenic Safaris has been offering snowmobile tours through Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest for the past seven years. It has a fleet of Ski Doo 4-stroke machines, all of which allow for reduced emissions and noise.
From the moment your Scenic Safaris guide picks you up in a luxury van at your hotel between 6 and 7 a.m., to the moment he drops you back at your door around 6 p.m., the chances of seeing some of the amazing wildlife that call this part of the world home increases.
The tour is an all day, 12-hour round-trip adventure and the early morning and early evening hours present some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities while you make your way to and from our country’s first national park. While bison, bald eagles and the occasional river otter will be the primary wildlife you’ll encounter inside the park itself, an appearance by elk or moose outside the park boundaries is certainly not at all out of the question.
After leaving your lodging you’ll drive up to Flagg Ranch in Yellowstone where you will be served a hearty breakfast and outfitted with top end snowmobile gear—boots, one-piece suit, helmet, gloves and balaclava. Once outfitted, your group—no more than nine snowmobiles per group, plus one guide—will head out to start your day of scenic adventure.
As you wind your way up to Old Faithful on your snowmobile, you’ll find there is nothing quite like passing bison burrowing their mighty heads into the deep snow searching for food and then watching their snow-covered faces emerge victorious.
Yellowstone's Winter's Majesty
Yellowstone limits how many snowmobiles can be in the park each day—no more than 500—so unlike summer, you’ll often have moments while zipping along the snow-covered roads when it feels like you’re the only one out there in the pristine wilderness.
Once you leave Flagg Ranch, you’ll be on the groomed trail to Old Faithful for a total of 45 miles, making several stops along the way before arriving at Yellowstone’s most popular sightseeing spot around the geyser’s lunchtime eruption.
“As a novice on a snowmobile I was perfectly comfortable and would highly recommend this tour group.” – Trip Advisor commenter
Some of the points of interest along the way may include Moose Falls, Lewis Canyon, Lewis Falls and West Thumb Geyser Basin. All of these and more provide enough photo opps of the breathtaking winter scenery and landscapes in the park to last a lifetime.
The very experienced and affable Scenic Safaris interpretive guides have multiple certifications, including being wilderness first responders. Their knowledge of the incredible geological environment of Yellowstone will prove invaluable to your overall excursion.
- WHEN: From December 15- March 15
- WHERE: Your Scenic Safaris guide will pick you up between 6-7 a.m. at your lodging. From Jackson, the South entrance of Yellowstone is about a 1 and 1/2 hour drive, so you’ll be on your snowmobile between 8 and 9 a.m.
- WHAT TO BRING: Winter clothing and thermals, camera, driver’s license
- COST: $275-$450 per driver/$175-$295 per passenger, depending upon trip date and passenger age (minimum age for children is 6).
- DURATION: About 12 hours, round-trip
- CONTACT: 307-734-8898 or 888-734-8898; scenic-safaris.com
Geysers and Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park contains the largest concentration of geysers in the world, the drama and majesty of which is made even more startling against the backdrop of winter.
Shades of aquamarine and goldenrod emerge from the thermal pools, especially in West Thumb and by Old Faithful. When steam erupts from acres of glittering snow you’ll see bison cozy up to the pools to bask in the warmth, their shaggy coats riddled with ice.
Scenic Safaris coordinates your lunch break with Old Faithful’s eruption time. You’ll be spending at least an hour there, treated not only to a feast for the eyes and the senses, but also a yummy private buffet lunch of baked ziti or Shepherd’s Pie. Before Old Faithful does her spectacular thing, you’ll be able to ramble across the wooden boardwalks past one of the park’s richer collections of hydro-thermal wonders.
Then grab a seat for the impressive sight of up to 8,400 gallons of scalding water reaching heights topping 184 feet.
The total amount of time on the snowmobile from Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful and back is approximately 5 to 6 hours, depending upon how many stops are made to view all that winter in Yellowstone holds.
The cost of this bucket list tour is between $275 to $450 per driver and $175 to $295 per passenger, depending upon trip dates and passenger ages. No previous snowmobile driving experience is necessary and the minimum age for kids to ride is 6 years old.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that the whole experience is —really—priceless.
BONUS TIP: Bring a small backpack to hold extra snacks and water, hand warmers, an extra clothing layer and camera (do not forget your camera!). These packs work well as they can be secured onto the snowmobile.