Considering The Modern Approach

IS PRESERVING NOSTALGIA WORTH HARMING YELLOWSTONE?

eluka-xcountry-ski.jpgThere is an insidious mentality among people who profess to care about Yellowstone. bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgThey will forgive a world of sins for the maintenance of nostalgic elements of the park’s past – however detrimental to both the park and the visitor experience.

Since we’re getting our first persistent snowfall here in West Yellowstone, it’s only appropriate to rekindle the winter transportation conversation. As people get their minds set on visiting Yellowstone this winter the cross country skier is busy checking his gear. Composite materials, synthetic materials, nylon and spandex, hollowfill and qualofill, -etc. Not a single thought is given to wooden skies or bamboo ski poles. Those are reserved for museums and restaurant walls.

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Never is it even imagined that the nostalgic value of unsafe, heavy, splintery, and warped equipment should be considered. Yet it’s this same skier that uses waxless skis, and graphite poles, and modern synthetic materials, that wants the polluting, obsolete and unsafe, Bombardier Snow coach to deliver him to the drop off point for his hi-tech tour of the park. Think nostalgia – act modern?

The same goes for the visitor that intends to snowshoe about the park. They want lightweight metal and nylon shoes. Something that is “easy” and modern – not nostalgic, heavy, cumbersome, and unsafe. Certainly they don’t want the effort involved in learning to walk on traditional snowshoes – nostalgia or not it’s just not safe!

The NPS in its infinite wisdom has chosen to forgive the vile emissions, damage to visitor’s hearing, and poor safety of the Bombardier Snowcoach until 2011. This stupidity is allowing this noisy and polluting unsafe machine to continue to harm Yellowstone while snowmobiles have become cleaner, quieter, and less in numbers.

The Bombardier is a single season vehicle, as are the old White Touring buses. Yet the park planners refuse to save money and avoid pollution by looking to a multi-season, clean alternative to park transportation. nono.jpgA vehicle that could do double duty, and save money, and pollute less.

And, yes there is a safe, clean, modern, alternative available. yellowbus.jpgThe NPS even endorses it as the best way to go. But the insidious thinking of planners and cheerleaders is not allowing this alternative to be implemented, or even considered. The Yellow Bus Project has been dropped in favor of multi-million dollar restoration of old White Touring Buses and the preservation, and “upgrading” of an unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet. Don’t spare any expense, this is nostalgic!

There seems to be some sort of NPS blinders issued to the staff as soon as their blood turns green and they are give a flat hat. “Damn the park, it’s nostalgia that must be preserved.”

There are, in fact, many alternatives to protecting the park that neither the cheerleaders nor the Park Circus choose to consider. The appearance of nostalgia ignores the continuing & potential damage that can be, and is being, caused by over the snow travel.

I certainly am aware of the potential damage that vehicle emissions can do to the park and the visitor experience. I wish that there had been acceptable park-wide maximum ppm emission standards established. I certainly wish that the standards would be incrementally lowered through time as a means to protecting the park. And I certainly wish that the cleanest mode of transportation would be the preferred mode of winter transportation. That, however, is not the wish of the NPS.serch-and-rescue-026.jpg

Sadly for me, and for future generations, the cheerleaders and NPS lackeys have concentrated on snowmobiles; not on preservation and protection of the park. This insidious stupidity is couched in phrases like tradition, nostalgia, history, and access. It results in higher fuel consumption, perpetuation of waste, continuous ongoing upgrades, and job security for park employees.

hunters-point.jpgEven the loudest cheerleaders acknowledge that it’s the private automobile that is the cleanest, most convenient, and most conducive to a successful visitor experience in Yellowstone. So, just plow the roads and be done with it. Do an honest cost analysis and allow year-round visitation. This has never been seriously addressed – and you can bet that there’s a lawsuit in the wings.

If that destroys some concessionaire investments, please be advised that our national parks are not designed to be a welfare system for entrepreneurs, despite the actions of the political planning staff. Nor, in fact, should the protection of the park take a back seat to nostalgic values about transportation.

Finally, if the NPS continues to insist on the nostalgic value of over the snow travel, then let them upgrade their vehicles to machines that are modern and built with safety and clean operation as design criteria. Spending millions of dollars to retrofit the unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet is just another glaring example of the waste of money and resources that the NPS is famous for.

serch-and-rescue-013.jpgThey could buy a fleet of modern vehicles for far less money, and still do a cleaner and a better job. And if they don’t want to stick with the yellow bus that they designed, then how about a Snow Bear or a Snow Fox? Cheaper, safer, cleaner, quieter, and modern. Pshaw, just too sensible!

How about a 3 cylinder engine that is clean and fuel efficient? How about a vehicle that is light, safe, warm, comfortable, and accessible? How about an American design that is already in production and used for touring, fishing, search and rescue, and an ambulance? Naw! There’s no nostalgia there.

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Bombardier Gas Caps, (and other junk.)

JUST BAN THE BOMB

nono.jpgA trivia question: “On what day in May, 2007 did the largest private bombardier fleet owner sell the business, & why?”

Answer: “Exact date unknown, meeting continuing emissions and noise standards is impossible.”

The NPS released their ‘Proposed Rule to Implement Yellowstone and Grand Teton Winter Use Plan,’ last Friday.

I’ve read the proposed rule and it’s full of escape hatches for the Yellowstone Park Bombardier fleet. There are, however three problems with the ‘Bombs’ that can not be avoided. 1] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, all snowcoaches must meet air emission requirements, which will be the functional equivalent of having EPA Tier I emissions control equipment incorporated into the engine and drive train for the vehicle class (size and weight) as a wheeled vehicle.” This means that a Bombardier Snow Bus will have to be as clean as a bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgToyota mini-bus. FAT CHANCE, that’s why they are waiting until 2011! And, by then, they hope you hate snowmobiles to the point that you allow worse pollution from the Yellow tanks. 2] “In addition, all critical emission and sound-related exhaust components that were originally installed by the manufacturer must be in place and functioning properly. Malfunctioning components must be replaced with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components where possible. If OEM parts are not available, aftermarket parts may be used if they are certified not to worsen emission and sound characteristics from OEM levels. In general, catalysts that have exceeded their typical useful life as stated by the manufacturer must be replaced unless the operator can demonstrate the catalyst is functioning properly.” Bombardier Snow Buses had no emissions control equipment when built. Conversion to contemporary automotive engines places a burden on the emission control system that wears out catalytic converters and mufflers at a rapid rate.The engines must run at twice design speed/mph. Costs to maintain Tier I compliance levels will be enormous and will be passed on to the consumer. Why does the park insist on this expense? 3] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, snowcoaches must meet a sound emissions requirement of no greater than 73dBA; test procedures to be determined by the NPS.” The design of the Bombardier Snow Bus track system is inherently noisy. The coachwork is a giant tympanic membrane, the hollow tires resonate with each bump in the road, the springs in the bogie cans are 1930’s tank technology and are uninsulated and rattle, the chains that hold the bogie cans clank unmercifully. Slop, slap, and rattle are built into the system in order to have any suspension at all. The combination of these factors mitigate against a quiet machine. Making these machines quiet would also cost extreme amounts of money. You can bet that it can’t be done in a cost effective manner. You can also bet that the NPS will devise a way to design test procedures that allow the obsolete machines to keep running – damn the spirit of the rule, it’s nostalgia that wins and the public & the park loses.

The big caveat for the Yellowstone fleet is couched in noble sounding phraseology that talks about the NPS Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1). “The restrictions on air and sound emissions proposed in this rule are not a restriction on what manufacturers may produce but an end-use restriction on which commercially produced snowmobiles and snowcoaches may be used in the parks. . . .This exercise of the NPS Organic Act authority is not an effort by NPS to regulate manufacturers and is consistent with Sec. 310 of the Clean Air Act.” The cute part of this phraseology is including the phrase “commercially produced” – take it out and the spirit of the rule is the same. In fact why must there be any kind of distinction? If it meets standards then it should be allowed- right? Well, girlfriend, by adding the spurious phrase it opens the door for a “Significantly Modified” phrase to be inserted later in the rule-making-process. Then the ‘significantly modified’ snow coaches don’t have to meet standards because they are not ‘commercially produced.’ Just why does the NPS have to resort to this sort of chicanery? Because it’s in their green blood, and the green blood of their pet concessionaires.

Oh, what about those gas caps? The fuel containment system of Bombardier Snow Buses consists of one or two large sheet metal containers with neither crash proofing nor recirculating venting. Venting is through the gas cap – not Tier I complaint.

Vapor recirculation must include the fuel tanks to be complaint – this too, is a cost to be passed on to the consumer. The NPS and the snowmobile hater don’t really care about the park and emissions standards. Rather they care about a nostalgic ride in a loud and stinky tank. They would rather have a nostalgic ride in the park subsidized by the American Taxpayer, than have the park protected – shame on them.

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abaski-segway-skyblu.jpgAn interesting aside in the proposed rule is the continued social class distinctions propagated by the NPS.

Somehow they believe that skiers are a higher class of people than people who ride snowmobiles. Somehow the snobs in the planning office have forgotten the Constitution of the United States of America. Somehow the cheerleaders have convinced the NPS that skiers are saints and have never broken the law, and never molested wildlife, and never damaged the environment. And of course they know park rules ski-buffalo.jpgbetter than the dummies on the sleds.

They never go to off-trail thermal areas, they never ‘soap a geyser’ to get it to erupt, and they never go skinny dipping in hot springs, and of course they would never traipse across bacterial mats – now would they? This must be true, otherwise why is the following section in the proposed rule?

“This guiding requirement will reduce conflicts with wildlife along roadways because guides are trained to lead visitors safely around the park with minimal disturbance to wildlife. Commercially guided parties also tend to be larger in size, which reduces the overall number of encounters with wildlife and reduces the amount of time over-snow vehicles are audible. Commercial guides are educated in safety and are knowledgeable about park rules. . . . Commercial guides use a “follow-the-leader” approach, stopping often to talk with the group. They lead snowmobiles single-file through the park, using hand signals to pass information down the line from one snowmobile to the next, which has proven to be effective. Signals are used to warn group members about wildlife and other road hazards, indicate turns, and when to turn on or off the snowmobile. Further, all commercial guides are trained in basic first aid and CPR. In addition to first aid kits, they often carry satellite or cellular telephones, radios, and other equipment for emergency use. In this way, guides will ensure that park regulations are enforced and will provide a safer experience for visitors. (Oh, by the way, stopping and starting increases pollution, so does variable speed travel, turning the machine on and off does too! What a silly rationalization these planners have used to demand that you pay guides.)

wintrcmpfire.JPGJust apply this rule to skiers and the spirit of the rule is certainly maintained – regarding winter use. And the truth of the matter is the same. Parties of skiers in two’s and three’s on trails move bison around and scare elk constantly.

They shout and holler and drink wine from their bota bags. Do they need a guide? Perhaps a single file line of 9 skiers with a guide is necessary too. They can use single finger signals, just like they do now.
skinny.jpgWho could dare protest this egalitarian application of winter use rules? Why is there no study about this? Is pollution the scary part, or is it wildlife molestation, or is it destruction of park resources? Maybe it’s just another bit of elitism designed to reduce motorized winter visitation and increase profit for the concessionaires.

Someday I hope to be rich enough that I can afford to go to Yellowstone in the winter and go skinny dipping all alone without a ranger or tour guide to spy on me. Then I too can enjoy wonderland as the Organic Act meant for me to, just like the skiing saints.

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illegal.jpgAnd, of course how ’bout the lack of enforcement for summer visitors that get to do everything that’s illegal. There’s seems to be a pile of preconceived elitism and prejudice running rampant in the planning department at Yellowstone National Park.

Why is this? Job security? Who holds the planners accountable? Who holds the law enforcement accountable? Why are skiers and bicyclists such models of perfect park behavior? Or are they? Where is the outcry for molesting animals in the summer? Certainly not among the diesel bus tours, nor among the $500,000 mobile condominium set. Nor is it to be found among the clean and green bicycling public – saints, everyone of ’em.

Before I Rest

analysis COMPLETE, report PRINTED, boxes SHIPPED.

shipped.jpgWell, gals, the report is done and gone – HUZZAH! The staff is moving on to other projects, and I’m going to take a break.

Before I take a week or two off, (Mom’s coming here for Mother’s Day. We’ll go to Yellowstone – I’ll drive, she’ll pay,) there are a couple of things I need to say – as if I wouldn’t!

The stir and hubbub about raising fees to our National Parks is gaining attention in the media (Link, Link, Link.) This has been building since the “Fee Demonstration Program” was initiated about 11, or so years ago. Believe me, fees are going to continue to rise. There is no public outcry loud enough to stop them: it just makes a good story so it gets written.

One thing that is galling about the outcry is that it is a generalized and unfocused whine. It does not address the real costs of visiting parks – all of which are escalating at a pace that far outstrips inflation.

go-to-yellowstone.jpgYellowstone in the winter is an extreme example. Yet it does show that it’s not just park fees that are necessarily responsible for attendance figures. In fact, the Yellowstone case tests the conventional altruistic wisdom.

There has been no outcry about the way the National Park Service has forced the visiting public to spend exorbitant amounts of money to “enjoy the winter in Yellowstone.”

They have mandated that any person wishing to visit Old Faithful must pay no less than $100/day. And they have mandated that any person that wants to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone must pay an additional $100/day.

The very people that decry the petty increases of $5, or $10, or $20 for entrance fees at parks across the nation are blatantly silent about the gross and inappropriate monetary burden placed on the Yellowstone winter visitor.

The very people that whine about a few extra hydrocarbons in the air over Yellowstone, are afraid to mention that it now is a park not much cleaner and very much more expensive.

Interestingly, winter visitation figures for Yellowstone are showing a gradual upward trend, (watch the pollution figures climb as well.) This is not because the park is cleaner but rather, I suspect, because it is more exclusive. It is now attracting more affluent visitors. Visitors who can afford to spend their money on riding in a diesel bus in the warmth of splendor. Shielded, they are, from the very elements that they profess to adore.

poor-folks.jpgThis is the first step in a trend that Scott Silver calls a plan to DISNEYFY the parks.

Now that the “RIDES” cost more money, and now that the common people have been removed from underfoot, and now that exclusivity reigns, of course Yellowstone will attract more of the “right” people.

This injustice is certainly more offensive and obscene than a $15 fee increase. Where are the news sources decrying this injustice? Where are the bloggers pointing out this prostitution of our park system? Where are the activists that so sanctimoniously proclaim that the parks should be available to the common man? Where is Tom [“Really-Loves-Yellowstone”] Brokaw? You & I know exactly where they are – riding on a diesel powered bus, or an obsolete, unsafe, gas guzzling Bombardier. They don’t dare admit that they are just as happy that the guise of pollution has rid their beloved Yellowstone of the “little people.”

They certainly are not going to suggest that the very ranting that they have used to force commercialization is limiting access. They don’t dare suggest that a family of four can afford $800 for two days in Yellowstone, (plus $250/night for hotel.) Oops forgot about travel expenses, meals, souvenirs, gratuities, photos, etc. Is a two day visit to Yellowstone worth $2,800 to the average American Family of four – you bet it is, they just can’t afford it.

denali-ride.jpgThis condition is coming to all parks, even one near you. The Presidio is already long down this road, as is Denali. And as each park realizes that they can mandate tours in lieu of individual experiences – they will.

As each park unit discovers ways to allow concessionaires to take over NPS duties, they will. As each park unit manufactures unneeded services that can bring money to the trough, they will drink.

Just how many luxury hotels (with $500/night suites,) are needed in a national park? Just how many trinket stores constitute a “service” to the public? Just how many horse back rides, stagecoach rides, bicycle rentals, (with regulations and dedicated bicycle trails,) visitor centers, museums, (centralized or dispersed, or for the birds,) resource centers, paved pathways, parking lots, luxury diners & fast food emporia, etcetera ad infinitum, are justifiable as services? The NPS is busy selling the parks – or giving them to private interests as fast as they can. They call it ‘visitor services. They also call it a wilderness.

Americans, as a general rule, want their entertainment done to them: TV, MOVIES, TOUR BUSES, GUIDED EXPERIENCES, LUXURY SUITES, GLAMOROUS DINING, etc. This is what we’ve been sold, and this is what we expect. The USA is a capitalist place and capitalism rules the mindset of us all. After all; it can’t be good if it’s cheap, it must be good if rich people covet it. This is the American mindset, and it demands that the parks cost more – not less.

Even the the NPS believes that they should have expensive luxury and exclusivity. If you don’t believe it just call (307) 344-7381, and ask about the private, not open to the public, island facilities that the executive rangers use for their own enjoyment. Ask about the “White House” china service and the fancy catered meals. Ask where it is in the budget, while you’re at it. (Oh, planning retreat? – I get it!)

The NPS model flies in the face of our overriding cultural values. It suggests that the best things about our country can be had for bargain basement prices. It suggests that the government does amusement parks better than Disney. It’s time to change the model, or it’s time to change the culture. Go ahead pick your task.

Actually the Disney model is a better deal.

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Question of the day:
Why are back country permits free?
Answer to the question:
There is no good answer!

In Yellowstone there are entrance permit fees, campground fees, photo permit fees, fishing permit fees, boating permit fees; but no hiking or back country camping permit fees. In the winter there are no snowshoe fees; and even though the park grooms ski trails there are no ski trail permit fees.

Did you know that if you bring your own horses, and weed-free fodder; you can take up five parking spaces with your rig, saddle up and ride in Yellowstone without a permit or a fee. Of course you didn’t know that; you can’t afford a horse, or a Hummer, or a six-horse trailer. Sad for you!

The NPS is missing a bet here. These kinds of activities could easily be taxed with ‘special user fees’ – this would defer costs of trail maintenance, back country signs, trail grooming, back country patrol and rescue, as well as toilet duty. In fact, very high fees would attract more elite visitors and generate more revenue.

We wonder where the righteous outcries will come from.

. . . Or, Forever Hold Your Peace!

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Well, it’s come down to this: the fools are still arguing argue-with-jackass.jpgabout snowmobiles while the winter is getting shorter and the snow is getting thinner.

On Thursday, May 17, 2007 a great hoard of cheerleaders, advocates, special interests, and “parkies” of all stripes will gather in beautiful West Yellowstone to share misconceptions about a winter use plan that is obsolete before it’s implemented. Such is the state of the NPS.

I’ll wager that no serious time will be given to the concept that the snow on the roads is getting thinner by the year. Certainly the NPS will not acknowledge that global warming is affecting Yellowstone in the winter time. I wonder how much time will be spent discussing the vast clouds of diesel smoke polluting the winter air from the Best Available Technology buses?

Do you suppose that the gathered assemblage will address the rising costs of the mandatory tours that are going to escalate with rising gasoline prices? Do you think that they are going to explain why the NPS is wedded to maintaining and constantly upgrading an obsolete fleet of single-purpose Bombardier Snow Buses? Maybe they will talk about the skiers that traipse across the bacterial mats at Lone Star Geyser. Maybe they will show skiers prodding bison with ski poles at 40 below. Perhaps they will discuss snowshoeing off trail in the geyser basins – NOT.

This is not a winter use plan at all. This is just one more charade in the ongoing immorality play to scream about snowmobiles and ignore public access to Yellowstone – – unless, of course, you are rich enough to afford $100/day plus entrance fees.

I’ll be there, if they don’t see me coming. I’ll give you a full report. But I promise you that no minds will be changed, (even mine.) I promise you that “Sanctimonious Sacklin” will avoid all the issues and mumble in ‘parkspeak’ about ‘accommodation.’ I promise that the audience will be sitting together in ‘camps.’ And, I promise you that everybody will come away more convinced that they are “RIGHT” than they were when they went in, (even me.)

As a matter of fact, you probably don’t need to attend. Nothing new will be revealed. The teams have been chosen and the cheerleaders are getting a bit long in the tooth. For the data you can just go to the NPS Site, (no, ladies, not the Yellowstone site,) but the NPS site about Yellowstone Winter vehicles.

If you bother to check the data you will mobileski.jpgnote that newer: YES NEWER!, vehicles have higher NOx emissions/mile than the older versions. This is the NPS conception of progress. Well, we already knew that.

It’s not about winter use. It’s not about global warming affecting access. It’s not about honesty. It’s certainly not about exhaust & pollution.

It is about differing perceptions of Yellowstone, and it is certainly about skiers vs. sledders, and the sanctimonious cheerleaders on all sides ignoring reality and the future of Yellowstone. Scream on.

wet-sled.jpgNot too far into the current proposed “winter use plan” it will be possible water-skip snowmobiles along the roads in Yellowstone – no matter how many there are. Can you imagine how this will affect a 3-ton snow bus?

For the NPS view of the supposed “winter use plan” visit New Long-term Winter Use Plan, (How long of a term?)

For the Yellowstone view visit Winter Use Planning in Yellowstone. No ladies, they are not the same. For the open comment documents go to Documents Open For Comment. For additional parkspeak go to Links.

Want to learn more about remote sensing of exhaust plumes and emissions for winter vehicles in Yellowstone? Click HERE & HERE.

I promise that the video of this meeting will be hilarious. And I promise that if you don’t speak up now, then you should forever hold your peace.

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By the Bye ——>> Happy “Air Quality Awareness Week.”

Break Time

PRESAGING SPRING

Well, a Chinook has blown for two days and the snow is becoming slush – that’s a technical term for a real mess. Running in ankle deep mush is not a fun thing. There is pavement showing and there is dust everywhere. The glacial flour is mostly from ground up obsidian and it’s dark and the remaining snow is a dirty mess.

oldfaithful-spring-07.jpgThe park is closed for the transition season, and it’s nicely eerie without the whine and rumble of snowcoaches, and certainly without the screams of visitors talking to each other and their cell phones. Here’s a picture of Old Faithful without tourists babbling. Just me and a bison that was not at all interested.

I’m collecting and reconciling the last data from the winter travel, and I’m going to leave the instruments on to see if I can get a lower bseline with the fewer vehicles now that the park is closed.

The higher elevations are still a very nice white, and the reflective surfaces are still making for ‘raccoon faces’ on the occasional skiers. Next weekend is the big snowmobile blowout here, and there ought to be a wonderful spike in the pollution.

It’s not spring yet – but we’ve had a couple of days that let us know it’s around the corner. I’ll be away from the computer until the weekend. Some fishing – it’s been too long, and a lot of work will keep me in the guest room of my friends place.

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IN THE TRENCHES

There is a very interesting post in the “RANGER X” blog about hidden identities & in-fighting, and NPS waste – read it if you have the time.

Let’s All Go To Yellowstone

HELL IT’S CHEAP AT TWICE THE PRICE

Straight from the “XANTERRA WINTER PACKAGE PAGE.”

“Trail of the Wolf
This package provides a mix of guided park interior touring (by snowmobile) and wildlife watching in the park’s premier Northern Range (with van transportation.) This package offers a minimum three-nights lodging at Old Faithful and Mammoth, a round-trip guided snowmobile tour between Old Faithful and Mammoth (with an hotel overnight in between),a Walk (sic) Up To Wildlife Tour of Lamar Valley and the additional components typically included in our Winter Getaway packages. Package can based from either Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.
With Mammoth Hotel as a base, rates start at $349.25 plus tax per person double occupancy and include:
* Two nights Mammoth Hotel, one night Old Faithful Snow Lodge
* Round trip guided snowmobile tour to Old Faithful (snowmobile clothing included.)
* Wake Up to Wildlife Tour
* 2 breakfasts (in the dining room) per person
* 1 continental breakfast (as part of the Wake Up To Wildlife Tour)
* Snow Card discount card
* Welcome Gift
* Unlimited Ice Skating (skates included)
* One-hour hot tub rental

Old Faithful Snow Lodge as a base, rates start at $469.00 plus tax per person double occupancy and include:
Two nights Old Faithful Snow Lodge, one night Mammoth Hotel
* Round trip snowcoach transportation from gateway entrance to Old Faithful
* Round trip guided snowmobile tour to Mammoth (snowmobile clothing included)
* Wake Up to Wildlife Tour
* 2 breakfasts (in the dining room) per person
* 1 continental breakfast (as part of the Wake Up To Wildlife Tour)
* Snow Card discount card
* Welcome Gift
* Unlimited Ice Skating (skates included)
* One-hour hot tub rental

Frosty Fun
Frosty Fun at Mammoth: This package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 breakfasts per person, 1 welcome gift per person, unlimited ice skating, 1 hour hot tub use per room, unlimited ice skate rental and ice skating and 1 snow card (discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events) and any equipment rental. Starts at $99.00 per person double occupancy, $166.00 single occupancy. Frosty Fun at Old Faithful Snow Lodge includes snowcoach transportation, 2 nights lodging, 2 breakfasts per person, 1 welcome gift per person, 1 snow card (discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events) and any equipment rental. Starts at $245.00 per person double occupancy, $375.00 single occupancy.

Nordic Heaven
Nordic Heaven at Mammoth includes at least 2 nights lodging, breakfast each day of stay per person, unlimited ice skating, 1 welcome gift per person, 1 hour hot tub use per room and unlimited ice skate rental and ice skating, 1 day ski rental per person, 1 ski drop per person and 1 snow card (discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events) and any equipment rental. Starts at $119.00 per person double occupancy, $186.00 single occupancy.

Nordic Heaven at Old Faithful Snow Lodge includes snowcoach transportation, at least 2 nights lodging, breakfast each day of stay per person, 1 welcome gift per person, 1 day ski rental per person, 1 ski drop per person and 1 snow card (discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events) and any equipment rental. Starts at $265.00 per person double occupancy, $395.00 single occupancy.

Snomo Deal
Guided Snowmo-Deal at Mammoth includes at least 2 nights lodging, breakfast each day of stay per person, 1 welcome gift per person, unlimited ice skating, 1 snow card per person discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events), any equipment rental, 1 hour hot tub use per room, unlimited ice skate rental and ice skating and 1 day guided snowmobile tour to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or Old Faithful (snowmobile clothing included in the package). Starts at $199.00 per person double occupancy, $366.00 single occupancy.

Guided Snowmo-Deal at Old Faithful Snow Lodge includes at least 2 nights lodging, breakfast each day of stay per person, 1 welcome gift per person, 1 snow card per person discount card) per person which is good for additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, additional meals (except designated special events), any equipment rental and one guided snowmobile tour to either the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or Mammoth. Starts at $345.00 per person double occupancy, $575.00 single occupancy with snowcoach transportation to Snow Lodge.”

Enjoy yourselves in your one hour free hot tub rental. Pluses not included: lunch, dinner, gratuities, viewing “another” attraction, entrance fees, etc. — OH! — Nearly forgot, these packages must be booked by telephone! And don’t forget to pay someone to watch your car. Or just charter a helicopter like Ted Turner and Mike Findley do. Check this!Or this.

Finally, read how over-the-snow travel disappointed this visitor to Yellowstone. Quotes to watch for:

“. . . this one ended up costing me plenty with hotel and restaurant expenses, not to mention a trip to the expedition store (where I bought my “Mad Bomber” fur artic explorer cap).”
“. . . there was no good way to get out to see Old Faithful, which was about 50 miles from Mammoth Lodge, where we were staying.”
“. . . disappointed visitors congregated, drank mulled cider and groused.”
“. . . So after traveling almost 2,000 miles, including the last leg on snowmobiles over mountain terrain, we left without ever seeing Old Faithful erupt.”

Yellowstone Dinner By Candlelight – NOT!

THE NPS COMMERCIALIZE THE PARK POLICY

romance-skiing.jpgSo you’ve saved your money and driven from home in Pocatello, Idaho – (or Bozeman, MT, or Salt Lake City, UT, or Boise, ID, or Missoula, MT, or Saint George, UT, or where ever,) – to West Yellowstone, Montana for a long weekend of some excellent early season cross-country skiing.

You’ve found a small, but quiet and clean rental for just $85/night – for the two of you. It’s within walking distance of the ski trails, (just about everything is.) You got up early and skied hard.

Hamilton House Candlelight DinnerYou have finished the day and are feeling exhilarated and romantic. You have traveled over 8 miles today on skis and are inclined toward a candlelight dinner at Old Faithful, just 31 miles away. The sun is low, and sunset about an hour away. Maybe a stroll around Old Faithful in the light of a full moon, at -10. A fitting end to a perfect day.

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE wants you to spend at least $200 to get there – if you can – which you cant! That’s more to get into Yellowstone National Park than a dinner for two on Cape Cod! Is this any way to run a park?

snow-lodge-and-tanks.jpgWinter rules in Yellowstone National Park require access by guided tour – ONLY! That’s about $100/day/person. On commercial buses, vans, or tanks: and only between about 8:30 AM & 5:30 PM.

This policy is designed to make merchants rich and visitors rushed. And, the merchants are making so much money during those 8 hours that they don’t even schedule transportation in the evening. Of course the NPS has rules that dis-allow night time travel in Yellowstone.

big-ugly-burger.jpgSo you can eat the plebeian fare in West Yellowstone’s mundane eateries. You can swill beer in dark and noisy and crowded pubs. Or, you can book reservations to stay overnight at Snow Lodge at Old Faithful. Well, maybe you’re that rich! I’m not. And $400 for a dinner is not my idea of enjoying Yellowstone.

romance-west-yellowstone-style.jpgThere are ways to protect the park, avoid pollution, and enhance the visitor experience without encouraging rampant commercialization of Yellowstone.

The National Park Service doesn’t want to hear about it. They are set on a course to limit visitation to only the richest visitors, pay a bit of baksheesh to the concessionaires, and return Yellowstone to its elitist beginnings.

Romance and gentle enjoyment of our national treasures should not be out of reach of the general public. Attendance at the parks is down. Entrance fees are up. Restricted access is becoming the norm. Commercialization is the new watch word.

There is no need for the NPS to whine about their budget in the face of their current policies & practices. Additional access would go a long way toward allowing Americans to enjoy their parks – and appreciating the need for money to protect and maintain them.

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