Lots of possibilities

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 11:33:31 01/03/20

In Reply to: Winter Visit posted by FLScott

Hi Scott,

The big question is whether you have any experience on skis. Cross-country skiing significantly broadens your options for activities and destinations. Even if you have no experience, you can look into renting equipment and taking a lesson. Snowshoeing is always an option, but it is more limiting.

Your biggest challenge will not be finding something to do, but rather, choosing from an array of options. On the north end, I would recommend visiting the Upper Terraces at Mammoth. If you take a ski lesson from Xanterra, they usually use a portion of the Upper Terrace Loop for lessons. I would say do not miss Grassy Spring, Dryad Spring, and Canary Spring. They have been real active lately.

Reserve at least one day for cruising the Northern Range, and doing wildlife watching. A few weeks ago, I had a "Three Dog Day", and saw 2 wolves, 3 coyotes, and a red fox, all within an hour or two, all from the same spot. By February, the odds of seeing otters along the Lamar River will have increased. Moose are already being seen between Lower Barronette and Round Prairie. Bighorn rams will likely be visible either above The Confluence of Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek or on one of the hills over near the Hitching Post pullout. Wolf activity has been real good lately, and will likely continue through the winter. Just like summer, rely on the hard core wolf watchers for the latest intel.

If you are taking a snowcoach down to Old Faithful from Mammoth, take advantage of whatever daylight is available when you reach the Snow Lodge. On that first day, you can explore the Upper Geyser Basin. If time allows, you can go down to Black Sand Basin via Daisy Geyser and Punch Bowl Spring. When I used to lead winter trips to the Snow Lodge for the Colorado Mountain Club, I would take the group on a loop through there over to Biscuit Basin and back via the old road past Artemisia Geyser and Morning Glory Pool.

There are two ski outings I would recommend to first timers. The first is to book passage on the "skier shuttle" going north. It drops you off at the Fairy Falls trailhead. You ski to Fairy Falls, which is incredible in winter, and gets better as the winter goes on and the feathery hoar frost crystals accumulate. Then you ski all the way back to the Snow Lodge via a trail on the east side of the road. There is only one hill of note, the one a short ways north of Morning Glory Pool. If it is intimidating, take off the skis and walk down the side of the trail. The other ski day would be to head out to Lone Star Geyser. For well-experienced skiers, I also recommend the Mallard Lake Loop and the Spring Creek trail.

The Secure Loon Page still exists, but it is dormant, in terms of activity.

Post back with questions.


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