Four Winter Critter Safaris

Courtesy of The Ranch at Rock Creek

Winter may be when bears hibernate and some birds fly south, but that doesn’t mean that all animals go into hiding. In fact, cold-weather wildlife safaris — many of which incorporate other fun activities from snowshoeing to photography — can be great for communing with nature and catching sight of cold-loving critters. Earn your hot cocoa on one of these four animal adventures and discover the rewards of braving low temperatures for a glimpse at some unusual creatures.

1. Spring Creek Ranch, Wyoming

Wyoming? Why not? As Yellowstone National Park is closed to cars during the winter, tourists rarely get to visit during that time. Yet, Spring Creek Ranch’s Winter Wildlife Safari — offered from December 18 through March 13 and led by Kurt Johnson, the resort’s naturalist — takes adventurers through the largely empty park in a snow coach with tank treads. Johnson's extensive training includes a Bachelors of Science in wildlife biology and a Masters of Science in natural resources, and he's traveled everywhere from the Baja Peninsula to East Africa.

On this two-day excursion, which includes a night at the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful geyser (especially explosive and steamy in colder temperatures), participants visit Lewis Canyon, Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs and Lamar Valley.

Elk, otters, coyotes, bighorn sheep and even wolves can be spotted on these sojourns, but the Frosty-Faced Bison is the main animal attraction, as they’re specific to the area and pretty astounding to see. In fact, The Yellowstone Bison Herd is thought to be one of the largest public herds still in existence with about 3,700 members as of 2011.

$1,450 based on double occupancy;


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