YELLOWSTONE – A Commercial Wonderland



As Yellowstone National Park gets ready for winter it is imperative to remember that if you visit Yellowstone in the winter you are trapped into a commercial view of the park.

I’m worried about the future of the visitor experience in Yellowstone. The intellectual poverty of contemporary critics of snowmobile travel have left the park open to privatization and commercialization beyond even their worst fears – and they can’t see it.

Whereas in the summer, winter-bus.jpga visitor is charged an entrance fee and then has access to the park’s roads and trails: in the winter a fee is charged, PLUS a guide fee, then the visitor is trapped into the agenda of the guide. They are hustled along, cajoled, patted on the fanny, and told what they should enjoy. “Don’t spend too much time here there is something better around the corner.” – – – Says who??
rodent_tracks.jpgThere is no time to enjoy the feeding behavior of bison. There is no time to wait for the clouds to move and get a better photograph of Old Faithful. There is no time to study the tracks of rodents and birds in the snow. There is no time to watch the spiders and flies around the hot springs. There is only time to see what the guide wants you to see – and not much of that either!

In the summer the visitor can enter the park at any time and stay as long as they wish. They have the freedom to choose a tour or to explore the park on their own. Not so in winter.

In the winter the visitor is forced to enter the park on the commercial schedule of the highly privatized concessionaires. And, they must leave on their schedule too. And, it costs at least $100/day. yelwinsun.jpgThere is no way to get into Yellowstone for a sunrise shot at Old Faithful! No way to wait for a sunset over Great Fountain Geyser. The National Park Service and the concessionaires want you to avoid these wonders of Yellowstone. Overtime and expenses are more important to the National Park Service than the visitor experience.

Our National Park Service has made it impossible to enjoy the evening or the night time by promulgating regulations that deny travel on the roads at night. Our National Park Service denies visitors the chance to view Old Faithful several times in a single day because they have forced visitors to abide by the hasty schedule of private guides and commercial interests.

camocoach.jpgThe visitor is forced into a cramped van, or bus, or tank, with body odors emanating from the guide and other unwashed visitors. The crying baby is louder than the rumble of the track system. The whining 8-year-old has to pee. Your feet are stomped on, as other passengers drape themselves across your body to get “THE” picture.

There is time only for a sack lunch, or a quick mouthful at McFaithful’s fast food emporium. Or, join the “RUSH & CRUSH” at the Snow Lodge. There certainly isn’t time to linger over tea and share experiences and enjoy some gentle conversation.
ofwin.jpgWell, after all, we spent 7 hours being jostled around and had to run to see Old Faithful. But, you want to see the canyon and enjoy the vast expanse of the Hayden Valley? Come back tomorrow – we’ll do it to you again for only another $100!

The reason that individual desires are removed from the Yellowstone experience is simple enough. The Whiners, Testosterone Bloggers, and Elitists have lobbied to make the park commercial. They have denied individual access, in the form of snowmobiles, and forced tourism to become a canned package – devoid of personal interests or volition.

They have ranted against snowmobiles and yet failed to advocate for clean, safe, and quiet access. They have pretended that the machine was the problem rather than advocating regulations and standards for cleaner, safer, quieter, access that would protect the individual’s experience.

By forcing the National Park Service to eliminate individual access on snowmobiles, the ranters have provided the rationale for even further commercialization of Yellowstone. Of course they pretend to abhor privatization too. Hogwash! These are the very people that pretend that their experience is the best and wish it on others – shame on them!

t-90-in-snow.jpgThe lack of foresight by snowmobile opponents has caused “The Yellowstone Experience” to become a T.V. program in a tank.

yelcoach.jpgTraffic jams of Snowvans, Snowcoaches, and gaggles of tourists all stopping at the same pull-out to watch a rapidly receding coyote is just not my idea of enjoyment in Yellowstone.

There has been an enormous amount of money and effort spent to convert the old Bombardier snowcoaches to modern conveniences. Yet, Research shows that the mean pollutants of the attempts are worse than industry standard mean pollutants for 4-stroke snowmobiles.

table-16.GIFThis is published on the National Park Service “Nature & Science” site, (Table 16.) Yet it is conveniently ignored by the planning staff in Yellowstone as well as the “canned tour” advocates.

The reality is, by limiting or eliminating, rather than regulating snowmobiles, the National Park Service is encouraging additional commercialization of Yellowstone; and, by doing so, degrading the Yellowstone experience to “an approved view.” This view is fostered by briefly inculcating new guides, (a 70% turnover rate/year,) with the right things to say. They even provide the “sanctioned view” in a book.

There are hundreds of miles of roads in Yellowstone. winter-commercial-map.JPGSome are kept open for wheeled vehicles all winter, (West Yellowstone to Bozeman, & Gardiner to Cooke City.) The rest are groomed, at park expense for the commercially guided tour vehicles. As shown on the map, the majority of Yellowstone is reserved for private interests at $100/day, or more!

I’m sick and tired of imperious newscasters. I’m fed up with closed-minded bloggers. I’m furious with the ineptitude and blindness of NPS planners.

There is no need to accommodate the commercial appetite for the novel “over the snow experience.” Roads currently are plowed. They can be plowed. They should be plowed.

Don’t allow unsafe, dirty and noisy snowcoaches into Yellowstone. Don’t allow unsafe, dirty and noisy snowmobiles into Yellowstone. Promulgate rules that enhance the visitor experience – not the commercial experience!

If the closed minded rage against snowmobiles continues. The park will be neither cleaner, nor quieter. If rage against the machine continues to overshadow rage against pollution, there will only be one solution in the future: bigger, more cost effective “Snowcoaches.” Of course this is just what the commercial interests want. One big bus can replace several outmoded Bombardier snow coaches. The maintenance is less, the efficiency is higher – DAMN THE VISITOR EXPERIENCE!

Now is the time to honestly explore the real advantages of plowing the roads in the winter. If not, the buses will rule the park. And, ladies and gentlemen, that will really be a stinky and noisy mess.



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