Yellowstone in Winter

“A Ride Through Winter Wonderland”

Today was a bit different for us.

This morning, we checked out of the Mammoth Hotel and boarded a monster truck-like snow coach headed to Old Faithful. Chelsea, our coach guide, was incredibly informative throughout the day. Because we were on a commercial snow vehicle, we were able to take roads that are closed to all others.

Today, we traveled back in time – geologic time. We had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the fire and ice that has sculpted what is now Yellowstone National Park over millions of years.

In addition to understanding the geologic processes that shaped the landscape of the park, we also got to walk around and witness present day geologic activity through hydrothermal features. Our first feature of the day was called Dragon’s Mouth, and it was a fitting name. As we walked across the boardwalk, a deeply felt growl was audible to our ears and our souls. This phenomenon is caused by steam and other gasses exploding through the water causing it to crash against the walls of hidden caverns, resulting in a fearful rumble that can be heard from many yards away. Chelsea shared a origin story from the Kiowa people that is tied to this thermal feature in which a young boy conquered his fear to gain access to a new landscape.

Dragons mouth spring

Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Another highlight from today was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Randy gave us an amazing lesson on art by Thomas Moran that was inspired by Yellowstone landscapes. It was an incredible view that most all of us considered “indescribable.” Chelsea also gave us an inside look at how subnivean (under snow) micro habitats are affected by climate change.


Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

A cross section of a snow drift

Our snow coach guide Chelsea explains the different layers in the snow pack and where different types of creatures can be found.

Once we finally made it to the lodge, we had a very emotional reflection on our day. We are so appreciative for this opportunity and the people we have shared it with. As we prepare for the last leg of our trip, we are going to bed with full hearts (and bellies) and gratitude for this amazing experience.



  • Cole S

    4 years ago

    Do the rumblings at Dragon’s Mouth happen in regular intervals or is it more irregular? If the rumblings do happen regularly, do we know if that has changed over time to become more or less frequent?

    • Gretchen Miller

      4 years ago

      Hi Cole! The rumblings are pretty constant, but there can be changes based on water levels or changes in the natural plumbing of the feature.

  • Leah Buckley

    4 years ago

    Oh what fun on the snow coach! I have been traveling back in time with you. I so loved the trek in 2014…the elk, the moose, the bison, the fairy dust, the howl of the wolves early one morning in -19 degree weather…..oh my oh my.

  • Stuart Creel

    4 years ago

    This trip looks great! I have a question about the Black Dragon Cauldron that was next to the Dragons Mouth. Since the Cauldron used to be a Mud Volcano, do Mud Volcanoes follow the same characteristics of origin that their magma cousins have?

    • Gretchen Miller

      4 years ago

      Hi Stuart! All of the thermal features at Yellowstone are related to the heat from magma beneath the park, but they actually form in different ways, not necessarily related to magma processes.

  • Domonique

    4 years ago

    The view is amazing! I can see how Yellowstone would have inspired many artists by the scenery alone. I’m curious about what creatures you can find underneath the snow packs? I didn’t know things lived under all that snow.

    • Gretchen Miller

      4 years ago

      Hi Domonique! Uinta ground squirrel, montane vole, pocket gopher, and the least chipmunk are 4 critters that live beneath the snow.

  • Anne Hingtgen

    4 years ago

    B: Have you had any time to build a snowman?! ☃️

  • Azareion Lee

    4 years ago

    was it warm around the dragons mouth spring and how come its fog if its really cold/winter

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