.. The cost to visit Yellowstone for a day is now $120.oo, (more or less depending on how much you have to pay the required "guide.")
.. You can only visit "one attraction" per day.
.. Go to Old Faithful = $120.oo
.. Go to Canyon = $120.oo
.. Go to Lake = $120.00
.. Should you happen to believe that there is more to Yellowstone in the winter than a six hour ride with a National Park Service mandated tour; you're out of luck. All motorized tours in Yellowstone National Park require a "guide." These "guides" know just what you want to see, and they know just how long you want to see it.
.. You must go into Yellowstone National Park with a 'group' of visitors. The groups are made-up by the Park approved concessionaires; at their convenience and to fill their buses, vans, and whatever.
..Of course, if you want just your family of four to have a family experience in Yellowstone National Park, you can charter a snow bus, or a snow van, or a snow coach, or a snow whatever for about $650.oo per day, plus entrance fees.
.. That's about $125.oo/hr. ("Days" are short on the concessionaire's clock.)
.. Maybe you just want to book a "tour." For $1,900.oo each, you can ride snowmobiles in a group for a week. Well, one day is a travel day, and meals aren't included and it's just 1/2 days.
.. So, do you really want to see Yellowstone? Do you really believe that it would be good to see the Hoodoos, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, Fountain Geyser, Great Fountain Geyser, Mud Volcano, West Thumb Geyser Basin, the Hayden Valley, Natural Bridge, and maybe Isa Lake. (Or Lewis Falls, and Upper Falls, and Washburn Hot Springs, Lone Star Geyser, and Artist's Paint Pots too.)
..Bring your check book. Those things can be done but not on commercial tours. Be ready to spend the $2,400.oo required to charter your own van or bus or coach. It'll take that much and probably more.
.. Plus lodging, meals, gratuities, etc. OOPS- what about wolves and the Lamar Valley? Better switch hotels and rent a car.
..At least there is no guide fee required to drive your own car on the plowed road between Gardiner and Silver Gate.
.. The National Park Service is missing a bet here. They could let the snow pile up on the road to Cooke City, groom the road, and subsidise commercial interests in the northern part of the park too.
.. With a little luck, a family of four can see Yellowstone National Park in winter for just under $6,000.oo for a week. Or, about 1/4 of your annual salary, unless you happen to be inordinately wealthy.
.. This is "windshield-time" at it's finest. The elements are removed from the equation. Wildlife is seen through tinted windows, the vapor of thermal features is a pretty blueish-gray, and you only need leave the heated comfort of the bus to dash to Old Faithful and to the Snow Lodge for lunch. With a little luck you won't even get snow on your $400.oo parka.
.. The WildeBeat has just produced a program about some new park passes. Much has been said about increased fees and commercialization
.. This news travels the American West in fits and starts but it is always close to the top of the list of conversational topics - even in McMinnnville, Oregon. Yet it seems that there is no similar outcry about the Yellowstone National Park hold-up. The park has become a retreat of the privileged rich, and the NPS likes it that way.
.. For those of you that believe that five hours in a steamy van to and from Old Faithful is enjoying Yellowstone in winter: bless your heart - the NPS wants to keep you from touching it's park.
.. Of course, you probably won't be touched by Yellowstone either! Of course the NPS wants more windshield time. "It reduces the visitor experience to knowing what we want them to know." For details on how successful the NPS is in confining visitors to heated and insulated vehicles see the NewWest summary.