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Planning a winter visit to Yellowstone?

Planning a winter visit to Yellowstone?

Making the most of a winter visit to Yellowstone National Park (see page 56) takes careful advance planning. Here are some options to consider.

Getting to Yellowstone is the biggest challenge. Major gateways are the Montana towns of Bozeman on the north, West Yellowstone on the west; another is Jackson, Wyoming, on the south. (Two eastern entrances are used only by snowmobilers.)

In good weather, the park is a reasonable day's drive from Salt Lake City, a long day from Denver. From West Coast cities, it's two long driving days to West Yellowstone (about 16 hours from Seattle, 20 hours from Los Angeles).

Most Western cities have connecting flights to Bozeman--most convenient gateway for a park visit--and Jackson. At our press time, the least expensive round-trip fares from Seattle, San Franciscco, and Los Angeles started at $290.

Those who fly to gateway cities won't need a car. Except for the 47 miles of plowed road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, park roads are officially closed to wheeled vehicles from November 1 to May 1. Snowcoaches shuttle visitors from three park entrances. Snow-grooming machines smooth park roads for snowcoaches and private or rental snowmobiles.

There is bus transportation (about 3 hours) from the airport at Bozeman to Mammoth (round-trip fare is $21 for adults, $10.50 for ages 4 to 10) and West Yellowstone ($19 for adults, $9.50 for children).

Snowcoaches inside the park provide both transportation and tours. As these 10- and 15-passenger coaches traverse snowy roads, the more loquacious drivers give a good introduction to the winter-bound country. Stops are made at several roadside attractions; unscheduled pauses are made to watch wildlife. Tours have the same itinerary and cost as scheduled runs.

Round-trip snowcoach fare from Mammoth to Old Faithful (4 hours each way) is $48 for adults, $24 for ages 5 through 10; from West Yellowstone (2 1/2 hours) $39 for adults, $19.50 for children. From Jackson (6 hours: by bus from Jackson to Flagg Ranch, then by snowcoach to Old Faithful), fare is $61.40 for adults, $30.75 for children.

Lodging in the park is limited to Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge--both good bases for park exploring.

A room for two at the refurbished 1937 Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (100 rooms) costs $40 with bath, $27 without.

Prices for one of the 91 rooms and cabins at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge cost the same as at Mammoth. The rooms at Old Faithful, which serve as dorms for summer help, looked tired and worn on our visit last winter.

Still, TW Services, park concessionaire since 1979, is improving park facilities. Meals in dining rooms at both areas were moderately expensive, but among the best we've had in any national park.

Warming huts at Madison Junction and Canyon Village serve basic snack fare heated in microwave ovens. On Saturdays, Roosevelt Lodge serves a hot buffet lunch ($4.95).

Two tour packages. One break for families is a week-long package that includes six nights' lodging at the Mammoth Hotel (you can, and should, request two nights at Old Faithful), round-trip transfers from Bozeman airport to Mammoth, snowcoach transport to Old Faithful, ice-skating, and a sleigh ride; cost is $175 per person, $35 for ages 5 through 10. A two-night package at Mammoth only, including lodging and one night's dinner for two, costs $85 per person.

For details or to reserve park transportation and lodging, write to TW Services, Inc., Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. 82190, or call toll-free (800) 421-3401.

Motels in West Yellowstone and Jackson also offer attractive packages, but are not convenient to major park attractions. For help with airline reservations and lodging packages, consult your travel agent.
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Date:Jan 1, 1985
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