A Guide's Insight to Yellowstone National Park

Author:
Publish date:
Outdoor guide Ron Bubb

Wildland Trekking outdoor guide Ron Bubb

A Wildland Trekking outdoor guide gives the inside scoop on why winter is the best time to visit Yellowstone.

For 12 years, Colorado outdoor enthusiast Ron Bubb has been guiding private groups for Wildland Trekking in places like Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. In the summer, he leads backpacking trips. When the snow starts to fall, he shows people the wonders of Yellowstone via cross-country skis and snowshoes on lodge-based trips. Editor Tori Peglar of National Park Trips Media teamed up with him and Wildland Trekking for a four-day group snowshoeing trip and asked him about his career guiding people in the parks.

Q: Why lead winter trips in Yellowstone?

Ron: I like traveling in the backcountry in snow. I do that a lot on my own, which is why I lead these trips. My focus is on backcountry hiking trips, but because I’m a skier, it’s my way of working in the field in winter.

Q: What might surprise people about Yellowstone in the winter?

Ron: I think that people can comfortably travel in what looks to be a harsh environment. People may not realize the level of solitude you can have here in Yellowstone on a lodge-based trip in the winter. They may think it is hard to get away from people. And there’s a lot of wildlife you can see in winter. You are going to see bison and possibly wolves.

Yellowstone visitors on a guided snowshoe trip by Ron Bubb

Yellowstone visitors on a guided snowshoe trip by Ron Bubb

Q: Best thing about Yellowstone in the winter?

Ron: You can see the historic districts of the park with like less than one-tenth of the people. This is the way you can see Old Faithful and not be overwhelmed with the logistical nightmares [parking, traffic, crowds]. You can come to the places you’d avoid in the summer and really enjoy them and still get a lot of physical activity in.

Q: Why see a geyser?

Ron: It’s so unique. There are only like five places in the world [Chile, Iceland, New Zealand, Russia and Yellowstone] where you can experience them. You get a sense that there is so much going on that we cannot see. When I think of the plumbing systems underground, it makes me feel so small. We have a need as humans to understand these systems, but how much more is going on underground that we don’t understand? When you hear a ranger talk about geysers, the first half of the talk is all factual and then during the second half, you start hearing the ranger use phrases like “What we think may be happening..." Sometimes, we even find what we thought was wrong. And that’s impressive.

Geyser rainbow in Yellowstone.

Geyser rainbow in Yellowstone.

Q: You are celebrating your 12th year of guiding for Wildland Trekking this year. What keeps you working outdoors?

Ron: I love to be outside. Often, I tell guests, ‘Once we step on the trail, nothing matters but the present.’ All that matters is right now and that we are a team and will do what it takes to be successful. In this day and age, it’s so hard to be present. Being able to show people that and watch them accept it is why I do what I do. In my everyday life, I try to focus on what’s happening now, not what happened in the past or what will happen in the future.

Q: You were raised in Illinois. What brought you out West?

Ron: I learned to ski my senior year in Wisconsin and it was fun. In college, I came to Keystone in Colorado to ski and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this is the real thing.’ So every year, I’d do a ski trip. Every time I drove back home, I’d watch the mountains dissipate in my rearview mirror. It always made me think about when the next time I was going to come back.

Q: Is there a particular place people should have on their outdoor bucket list?

Ron: I think everybody should go below the rim of the Grand Canyon, even if it’s just a half mile down because it changes your perspective of that environment, of that place. You get such an appreciation for what the Grand Canyon is.

Q: Anywhere else?

Ron: Hiking in the backcountry of Yellowstone when you are not the top of the food chain. It puts your senses on a heightened level and that’s something that is pretty powerful. In this day and age, we are such kings and queens of our worlds. Most of us have pretty good control over our worlds. [Being in Yellowstone’s backcountry] puts our egos back in their places. It reminds us we are traveling in something else’s environment that could change our world. A lot of people are not comfortable with it. Putting yourself off the the beaten path when you are not the top of the food chain is hard to do, but there’s a big reward.

Hiking in Yellowstone

Q: Why should people visit national parks?

Ron: Because even though the National Park Service has done things to accommodate the public, national parks are our most protected public lands. Once you get off the beaten path, it brings me a sense of respect for how I feel we should treat it- with Leave No Trace principles. I feel strongly about the seven Leave No Trace principles and when I go to the most protected places in the country, even if I see even a sesame seed on the ground. I pick it up. [Being there] gives me a heightened sense of respect. 

Horizontal rule

For more information about guided hiking trips in Yellowstone and other places around the world, contact Wildland Trekking at 800-715-4453, International 927-379-6383,  www.wildlandtrekking.com

Related

Snowcoach in Yellowstone near bison and the Madison River

A Winter Paradise in West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone is the closest entrance to Old Faithful, find out why this town is a great basecamp for winter fun in and out of the park.

Gracie the ranger dog and her owner Mark Biel

The Four-Legged Ranger at Glacier National Park

Gracie the dog ranger works hard to keep Glacier National Park visitors and wildlife safe.

Winter near Cooke City, Montana

Best Side of Yellowstone in Winter

Here are all the reasons why a winter vacation in Gardiner and Cooke City, Mont., next to Yellowstone is one of the most magical you’ll ever take.

Sevag Kazanci (left) and Keith Eshelman (right), co-founders of Parks Project

A Parks Project for Goodness Sake

Giving back to national parks with thoughtful products

Snowmobiles passing bison on a road in Yellowstone

48 Hours in Winter in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Day 1: Head to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park for elk, art and views. Then spend Day 2 among Yellowstone's wildlife and geysers.

Teton Village at night.

Where to Stay in Winter in Grand Teton National Park

In Grand Teton, all’s quiet on the western front in winter, except one unique lodging operation that come alive when the snow starts to fall.

Having Counter Assault bear spray at the ready

5 Bear Safety Tips for Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks

Gary Moses, former national park ranger and product ambassador for Counter Assault bear spray, shares his tips to avoid a dangerous bear encounter.

Snowmobiles and Snowcoaches passing bison on the road in Yellowstone

Yellowstone Winter Tours on Snowcoach, Snowmobiles, Skis, Snowshoes and Sleds

Let a winter concessionaire show you around Yellowstone. Knowledgeable local guides will make the day a memorable one.

Roasting marshmallows at a Yellowstone campsite at Lewis Lake

Where Should I Camp in Yellowstone National Park?

Personalized guide to help you decide where to spend the night, from car camping paradise and remote backcountry sites to a slice of RV heaven.