1st off, I am so glad to have stumbled along Road Trip America and the Forum. I just saved another $30.00 on my rental car following a link on this website. Saved $16.00 a week ago. It's made my day. I'm glad I was able to support this website before joining even if it is just a few dollars.
Here's my trip:
On March 15, 2012 I made a reservation at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park for New Years. It will be my 2nd trip to the park in winter. The 1st was Christmas 2007. It was breathtaking.
About my first trip. I entered the park through the Roosevelt Arch. I was able to walk Mammoth Hot Springs before heading to Old Faithful Snow Lodge. The transportation in was also part tour as we were able to stop along the way to see some of the sites. Once at the Snow Lodge, you're pretty much snowed in until you leave. Old Faithful is right across the street from the Snow Lodge. The sidewalks are cleared.
The visitor's center was open during day time hours to sit and hang out between eruptions and the film runs every 30 minutes. Christmas Eve I took a snow coach tour to several thermal areas. I shared the ride with a family from Hawaii. The guide was very informative with details about the bacteria mats, mud pots and geysers along the way. Christmas Day I took a 15 mile hike in a blizzard. This was just area the upper geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin and another basin "just over the hill". It took most of the day. The OTS out was also a mini tour as the driver was ahead of schedule and stopped at a few areas allowing us to take in one last eyeful.
The driving potion was I-90 from Chicago to Gardiner Mt. Out was a straight drive and I only napped for a couple hours along the way in Montana. Heading back to Chicago, I stopped at Devil's Tower and Mt. Rushmore. I don't remember if I skirted down to I-80 or took 90/94 through Wisconsin. It was a memorable trip and one I will take again.
This year, I will be entering the park from Flagg Ranch and the Grand Tetons. For the low price of $626.27, I was able to get a cabin at Old Faithful, food, over-the-snow transport in and out of the park, snow coach tour to Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and a NYE Champagne Toast. I will be there for 4 nights.
Just about a week ago I was thinking that would take the long way home passing through Las Vegas. TR member with 60K in credits from last summers great race. This means free room, food, drink, and even some free money if I choose to waste my credits. The additional cost is only $97.00 in gas as of yesterday. Since football season ends on 12-30, my choices are Hockey and Basketball. I like sports betting. So, with another 30 dollars in savings on the rental car, Las Vegas is a done deal. The $46.00 I've saved on the rental car is about 18% of my total fuel cost. That's about 525 miles, or 1/2 the distance to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone in winter is a must for bucket listers. You might have to go twice to see the entire park, but it's worth it. It's something you'll have to remember and memories you can take with you. Reservations should be made 1 year in advance through the Parks Hotel Management, xanterra. This year reservations were started March 15th. Take a package deal as it will include OTS transport in and out of the park, food. It's a trip of a lifetime.