We’ve been in Wyoming in the late fall and early winter, experienced a very early season blizzard, but we’ve never been there when it is full on winter. That’s on my bucket list, to experience Wyoming’s winter. Some people may tell me at this point that I need my head examined, that winter in Wyoming can be dangerous, cold, dark, and dreary. And, how is it different from winter in other parts of the Midwest?
I keep telling DH that we need to make a trip to Wyoming sometime in the winter to experience Yellowstone. No, Yellowstone doesn’t close for the winter, even though most of the roads going into the park are closed. Even a few of the famous lodges are open and often aren’t booked years in advance. There are ways to get in—one is the famous Snowcoach. I mean, really, how cool is this? There are even night excursions for what has to be arguably the most intense star-gazing experience of a lifetime (short of actually taking flight in a rocket ship).
What I can tell you about Wyoming’s wild open spaces in the winter is the silence is so intense it is frightening if you’re not expecting it. But, during a snowfall, something magical happens. That enveloping silence changes with the sound of falling snow, a shushing sound as flakes drift through the air and fall to the ground. If feathers truly could have a sound as they settle to earth, it would be the sound of snowflakes slowly surrendering to the pull of gravity. That falling snow muffles all other sound, filling the air with its own music and overwhelming the awesome silence of a slumbering landscape.
Yellowstone in the winter is transformed, the landscape mantled in shades of stunning whites, icy silvers, and shadows populated with deep blues, purples, greys, and black. The tourists are gone for the season, so the park does now belong to the wildlife and those hardy enough to brave the shattering cold. Portions of the landscape never freeze, because of the thermal activity so close to the surface. The geysers still bubble and percolate, Old Faithful still hisses and spews her magnificent fountain of super-heated water and steam into the air, and sections of the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers steam with heated water re-entering the rivers. These “hotspots” in the ice attract the wildlife, offering year round drinking holes and the rising steam offers places to warm shivering bodies.
Now, I just need to convince the DH that I have to mark this one off my bucket list.