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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences - Home Yellowstone in Winter

2009 Q & A

January 16, 2009

Describe what it's like to ride in and look out of a snowcoach.

Nathan, Faith Christian School, Nash Co.

A snowcoach is a really huge van with 4 treads instead of tires. The ride is bumpy and sometimes a little jerky. It was so cold outside that sometimes the windows would fog up, but we wiped them down with towels so we could see the wildlife and scenery outside. Our first snowcoach trip lasted ten hours, but we got out frequently to see things and take pictures.

Does Yellowstone Lake freeze enough so that you can walk or ice skate on it?

Timmy & Jenna, Forsyth Country Day School, Forsyth Co.

Most of the lake appeared frozen solid. We saw coyotes out on the ice, but we're not sure the ice would support the weight of a human. Our snowcoach driver, Tamarack, said that the lake had only frozen solid last week. During our trip to the lake, we saw where thermal features located on the lake bottom had melted holes in the ice. Otters and waterfowl used these holes in the ice to search for food.

We read a story about Yellowstone titled "Summer of Fire." Can you still see damage from the fires of 1988? Has the park recovered?

Courtney & Samantha, Eastern Wayne Elementary, Wayne Co.

Yes, there are still dead trees standing that were burned in the fires of 1988. However, the burnt areas show astounding new growth and rejuvenation. Fires are a natural part of Yellowstone's cycle of life.

Are bison skittish when you get close to them?

Ida, Forsyth Country Day School, Forsyth Co.

Bison are reluctant to get off the roads in winter because the cleared roads are easier to travel on compared to the deep snow. We observed a bison in the road today that stood its ground as a line of snowmobiles passed close by. Guides and snowcoach drivers know to give bison time to move out of the way so the animals are not unduly stressed.

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