I should begin by saying I hate the cold and do everything in my power to avoid it. My Midwest roots, however, have taught me one thing: layer up! So, with that in mind, I headed out the door to go join Natural Habitat Adventure’s Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolf and Wildlife Safari.
Given that I had never been to Yellowstone in the winter, I had no idea what to expect. I thought I might see a wolf, maybe a few bison and the Old Faithful geyser. Well, the wildlife I encountered exceeded any expectation that I could ever have imagined.
From the excited team of sled dogs that pulled me through the snow during my dog sled excursion before the trip to the hundreds of bison that rested in the Lamar Valley, the wildlife in Yellowstone was not only abundant, but it was also close.
© Renata Haas
The one thing that truly blew me away, however, was the quiet and peacefulness of this vast, remote land during the winter.
Once we reached the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and had an amazing dinner, I decided to stay up and go see Old Faithful in all its nighttime glory. At this point, it was 9:30 p.m., and I was exhausted. Doing the math, I knew that I was incredibly close to missing the eruption, so I got my hustle on and went out to Old Faithful….just in time to see that I had missed the eruption.
This meant that I had a difficult decision to make: either head to bed and sleep or stay up and come back in about an hour and a half to see the next geyser eruption. The moon was full, and it was stunning out, so I decided to wait and come back around 11 p.m. to witness the next eruption.
Well, it goes without saying that I fell asleep. Luckily, I had set my alarm so at 10:45 p.m. I was jolted awake, and I quickly put on all my layers and headed out to see Old Faithful erupt.
The most amazing thing about the winter in Yellowstone, especially at night, is that there are few people outside. The full moon was still out, and only a few clouds moved across the sky. Within a few minutes, Old Faithful began to grumble and then water shot up more than 100 feet in the air. The Earth was speaking, and it was nothing less than magical to be there peaceful and alone. At that moment, as if they were celebrating this with me, coyotes began to howl in the background. It was perfect, peaceful and the best way I have spent a night outside in a very long time. After Old Faithful had calmed down to its resting state, I headed back to the lodge and went back to dreaming.
In the morning, I decided to take a walk among the geysers and, after passing a small herd of bison sleeping on the warm ground, I found myself alone again. This time, it was light enough for me to see the details of the geysers and take the time to listen to them and enjoy my private Yellowstone tour.
Overall, my Yellowstone nature tour was an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience with wolves, bison, sled dogs, and wonderful Expedition Leaders. However, I will always remember my quiet morning at Old Faithful and the sounds of Yellowstone.
Header Credit: Henry Holdsworth