Destinations with Daughters – Waning West – Day 5

Our full day in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a place of legend for me. It was a place I never knew I would ever see, but hoped to and when we decided to do this road trip, we had to make it happen. This could be a once in a lifetime visit for me to many of these locations so I had to do it!

COVID as certainly changed the landscape of tourism in the US. Yellowstone was open all summer although not all the properties were available. One staff member we spoke to said that visitor numbers were the highest ever in July, but staff was reduced because of COVID, so it was a wonderful but busy summer. Check out the Mammoth Post Office – bears COVID ready, along with the specialized vehicle tracks used for winter travel! Oh, and this is a magpie – isn’t he GORGEOUS!!! We have seen many of his kind here in the northern territories!

When I investigated a stay at Yellowstone, I never dreamed I would actually find accommodations ON SITE in Mammoth, but because so many are leery to travel, we lucked out and began our two night stay on the first night of Yellowstone welcoming winter season visitors (this is a normal thing – having summer and winter season separated by weeks at time and closing down in between). We stayed at the Mammoth Hotel and Cabins in the quaint and historic town of Mammoth at the North Entrance to Yellowstone. The hotel was comfortable and had a lovely Victorian feel including creepy “The Shinning” hallways!

Our internet was TERRIBLE (we have T-Mobile service and Yellowstone is a black hole) but that wasn’t so bad!

We ate our meals at the dining facility they have across the street from the hotel and breakfast was delicious (our second morning Char had buttermilk pancakes with huckleberry butter and huckleberry sauce!) as well as the one dinner we had there. I enjoyed Wild Boar and Char had steak. Overall, the prices were what I expected (slightly higher than average for dinner but breakfast was average) and the service was great – our breakfast server the fist day was from Brunswick, Maine!

A “short stack” of buttermilk pancakes with huckleberry syrup and huckleberry butter!

After breakfast, we walked to the Mammoth Hot Springs and Terraces and got a nose full of sulfur and an eye full of wonder!

Currently and every year, other entrances are closed due to weather conditions and the only way to get to Old Faithful was via Snowcoach – at a VERY hefty sum (over $500 for both Char and I if we wanted to see Old Faithful – a full day’s journey there and back), so we scratched that idea and went for a cross country ski tour instead.

Again, because of maintaining a 20-30% capacity, our cross country ski tour ended up being a private tour and it was spectacular!!! We did 5 miles round trip from the Roosevelt Ranch area to the Tower and back. We saw buffalo while on the trail and on the ride to and from the drop off point, we saw elk, an eagle, coyotes, more buffalo (traffic jam) and an absolutely gorgeous black wolf. He was magnificent!

After dinner, we enjoyed ice skating at the small rink built every year at Mammoth and lovingly maintained by their night maintenance man, James, who came to Yellowstone 26 years ago and never left. EVERY person we met from our servers, our ski tour guide, Cache, and the barista in the Map Room of the hotel all came to Yellowstone and fell in love with her beauty and never saw fit to leave. I admire their passion!

Anyway – the rink – adorable and the skates are free and you help yourself to find ones that fit in a little cabin next to the rink. I love the free spirit of this opportunity – explore and enjoy at your own risk – more of life should be this way! We enjoyed a sit by the fire afterwards and chatted with James, then moseyed off to bed. Our day was the stuff of dreams!

Our experience at Yellowstone was nothing short of magical! We are so thankful it was open and took this opportunity to explore this breathtaking place!

Total Cost of food during our stay (2 breakfasts and 1 dinner) – $185

Total cost of cross country ski tour and ski rentals plus tip – $150

Souvenirs bought – $170 (things are expensive here!!)

EVERYONE was masked up in proximity to people outdoors and always indoors unless eating or in our rooms. We did have to wear our masks during the ride to our ski trip but during the skiing outdoors, we could take our masks off.

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