Up to 318 snowmobiles and 78 snow coaches allowed into the Park each day

Yellowstone plan sharply curtails snowmobiles
Associated Press

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Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

15 Responses to Yellowstone plan sharply curtails snowmobiles

  1. avatar Mike says:

    Great news. Now only 318 to go.

  2. avatar Save bears says:

    Yup, then we can start working on the million plus cars a year (rolls eyes)

  3. avatar Mike says:

    I think it’s important to give the park a break. I have no problem with the snow coaches.

  4. avatar Salle says:

    For those who complain about the reduction, there haven’t been more snowmobile visitors than that since the BAT machines were required and it has led to a cost for tourists that makes touring the park on a snowmobile available only to those who can afford $150 + for each person per day. And that’s not counting rooms and food, etc.. The concessionaires are the only ones who make any money and they have been losing so much in the past few years that even they are saying that only plowing the roads will make any difference for tourists and the winter tourism businesses. (Aside from the fact that snowmobiling is dying off; nothing to do with the park since there are at least 300 miles of snowmobile trails outside the park where you can ride whatever kind of machine – 2-stroke or whatever – and trash whatever number of trees and fall off cliffs and the like without guides required. That type of wintersport has been in decline without the park policies affecting the activity.)

    Snowcoaches are so inefficient, the thing they do best is breakdown, the mpg is horrid… like about 1 mile/gal.. They aren’t the best carbon footprint argument.

    What most park winter use advocates are talking about, including park personnel, is to plow the roads so that the general public can drive in to Old Faithful, Mammoth and maybe Canyon using their normal passes for a week or a year. That would make the park more accessible for regular folks and give it back to them rather than making it an elitist winter park with restrictions that are mostly complained about.

    If the park has to be open in winter, it should be by plowing. Plowing would make it less of an issue for folks to go off trail and cause damage for one thing. On snowmobiles, folks are tempted to do so. It would be interesting to see if the park officials are willing to change to game plan. It would also facilitate the onset of a “pass at your own risk” people management scheme that might help visitors respect the park and its natural wonder and danger… maybe.

  5. avatar Ter says:

    Salle,
    I definitely agree with you. Plow the roads to the most well-visited areas. The fuel needed for the plow couldn’t possibly be more than what the snow coaches use. Being able to drive in the park in the winter would be a benefit to local communities AND visitors, especially in this economy.

    The help cut down on traffic in winter AND summer, maybe implement a free shuttle system, like the one they have in Glacier NP? That was fantastic on my visit there, and I’m sure that many people would use it.

  6. avatar bigbrowntrout says:

    Plowing the roads would create nothing but giant canals for wildlife to walk, some to troubled zones. i.e. bison moving to the north. It would also create liminted entry and exits for wildlife to meadows, water ets and pullouts would be an issue for the human traffic. Snowbanks would be so big from madison south you wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway. Snowcoaches are super gas guzzlers.

  7. avatar Alan says:

    Problem with plowing roads: Bison already use groomed roads to migrate out of the park and to their doom. Would they not follow plowed roads in even greater numbers? The bison problem (or rather the PEOPLE problem with bison) would have to be fixed first.
    Meantime, snow coaches might be an environmental nightmere, but at least one coach carries several people whereas one snowmobile carries only one or two people. Also, the fuel they use in these things might plow the road but the difference is the plows aren’t loaded with paying (through the nose) tourists. The price is definately prohibitive. Winter is without a doubt the season of the rich man; unless you ski or snowshoe, which I do. Obviously the ability to travel very far is limited.

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    When I made the statement about getting rid of cars, last night I was being sarcastic.

    I would like to see a free non-mandatory shuttle system in place like they did in Glacier, it has been a success and does cut down on traffic, which is a good thing. The Shuttle system in Glacier however is not a sight seeing tour bus, it is simply a shuttle to get hikers to their trailheads.

    I have sledded in Yellowstone a couple of times, they were nice trips, but I don’t ever anticipate doing it again. If they could develop a technology that would allow access to the park during winter that would not involve plowing I think it would be good, but with the amount of snow most years, I don’t know if that is possible. I remember somebody on here posting a link to electric sleds in the past, which I think could be good, as they have lower top speeds, and they are more environmentally neutral than gas powered sleds.

    I do believe that keeping the park roads groomed for those who can afford to sled in the park in the winter is a loosing proposition, costing far more than it derives for the Park service. In reality, I don’t think lowering the daily quota is going to have any effect at all on the business, as has been mentioned it is still above what has been the norm for a couple of years now.

  9. avatar Ryan says:

    Save Bears,

    Look at denali, very very limited personal vehicle access (a couple weeks a year) and yet it still gets visitors. It’d be nice to see that happening in yellowstone.

  10. avatar Save bears says:

    Ryan,

    I know the Denali plan works for that park, of course I believe it is due to location and costs, Yellowstone is much more accessible to a lot more people requiring a lot less effort, I seriously doubt a plan like the Denali plan would go over concerning Yellowstone. I can guarantee the claims of only allowing access for the wealthy would start ringing loud and clear.

  11. avatar Alan says:

    SB: I’ve been advocating for exactly the type of shuttle system you talk about for Yellowstone for years.
    One thing you have to remember about Yellowstone in the summer is that it is also a major route from Livingston Mt. to Wyoming; Cody, Jackson and points south. Also visa versa. To close it to a Denali type system would mean a long, long drive around. In the winter the basic thought is: can’t get there from here! Don’t think it would go over year around.

  12. avatar Ter says:

    I’ve heard a lot of criticism on the Denali plan from many people who visit there. I’ve been told that you’re not allowed to get off the shuttle until you reach the end, regardless of what you might see along the way? The system they have in Glacier is great, because it’s voluntary, and has many stops, and if you want to get off the shuttle at a stop, another will be along in 15-30 minutes, if you just want to look around. We used it to get up to Logan Pass, then biked down to St. Marys, took the shuttle back up to Logan Pass, and biked back to our car. What a great way to see the park! I think there’s definitely a potential for traffic in Yellowstone, both winter and summer, to be managed smarter than it is now.

  13. avatar richie says:

    I would love a have the experience of riding a snowmobile
    in yelllowstone,but my ethics,I mean the way I feel about the park and it’s animals would not allow me to do it.

  14. avatar Alan says:

    You can get off the shuttle (not tour bus) in Denali anywhere you want, as long as there is no wildlife there. If so they drop you off a quarter of a mile up the road.

  15. avatar richie says:

    If you guys and gals who live in this ares think about it the wildneress is being exploited my us, indirectly we are all responsible. They airing of our opinions will lead to action to save the wold animals and their environmental. But we are all involved that’s a good thing!!

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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