Winter tours

At parks in the western US, it’s not just about the snow

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Hot and cold:</span> A snow coach from Spring Creek Ranch, a resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., takes visitors on a tour of Yellowstone National Park.
Hot and cold: A snow coach from Spring Creek Ranch, a resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., takes visitors on a tour of Yellowstone National Park.
SPRING CREEK RANCH / SPRING CREEK RANCH

The New York Times

Recent storms have dumped loads of fresh snow in the Western United States, welcome news for the region’s national parks and resorts, many of which have been adding history, wildlife and ecology tours to their usual winter menus.

• In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Nature Association has added a “Wintertime Wonders” bus tour to its many educational programs. Passengers will learn about the history and ecology of Rocky Mountain National Park from a cozy seat aboard a heated bus while sipping free hot beverages, as opposed to venturing out on snowshoes or skis, as its usual excursions require.

The flexible nature of the tours allows guides to “throw in a little of everything,” Rachel Balduzzi, the association’s field seminar director said, including the history of the park’s formation and how the animals are adapting to the winter environment. ($200 for up to four people; $50 for each additional person; and $25 for children 12 and younger: www.rmna.org.)

• Spring Creek Ranch, a resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., has taken a more upscale approach to its winter safaris this season, packaging two nights at the resort with a snow coach tour through Yellowstone National Park, where passengers will spend a night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

Stephen Price, the resort’s owner, said in an email that a benefit is that there are virtually no other visitors in the park, making for a more intimate experience. ($1,450 per person for double occupancy; $1,988 for single; go online to www.springcreekranch.com.)

Single-day “Wildlife Escapes” are also available through Spring Creek. They include a snow coach safari, a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge and admission to the National Museum of Wildlife Art. ($195; $175 for children 12 and younger.)

• In Montana, the Yellowstone Association Institute has been hosting a variety of private and public tours and seminars for many winters, the most exciting of which might be snowshoeing the north range of the park in search of wolves to observe.

While the institute’s Wolf Week in March offers even more opportunities to learn about these animals, a new “Wildlife Weekend Escape,” offered on specific dates throughout the season, teaches visitors how to listen for and observe all types of animals, and includes several viewing excursions into Lamar Valley, where bull elk, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, bison and coyotes are also known to roam. ($220, not including lodging or park passes: visit www.yellowstoneassociation.org.)

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