Spend This Christmas in Yellowstone

December 17, 2012 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

Ever been to Yellowstone National Park in the winter months? I assume no. Yellowstone, along with most western national parks, seems to be closed for business during these chilly times. It’s as if Midwesterners think of Yellowstone as a place that’s only active during summer vacation season. But truth is, there’s a whole natural world hard at work, struggling to make it through the harsh Yellowstone winter. And it’s all stunningly beautiful to see.

Nature-Christmas-in-Yellowstone-WPTNature “Christmas in Yellowstone” has become a perennial favorite of mine. The scenes of wolves, otters, coyotes and bison would be impressive in any season, but against a winter backdrop they seem more majestic, almost dreamlike. The reality of the landscape sets back in when the narrative shifts to Tom Murphy. (Yes, a few brave people do visit Yellowstone during winter!) Murphy, a photographer who for 26 years has spent part of each winter camping in the back country, offers a glimpse at the hardened mental state that’s required to survive in the wintery wilderness. While carrying an 80-pound pack, you’ll join him on a steamy photo shoot near Mammoth Hot Springs, and spend a blustery night camping through one of Yellowstone’s classic blizzards.

It’s not as harsh as it sounds. Not for the viewer anyway, because the scene shifts back to Upper Yellowstone Falls where otters play and you casually look on, warm in your easy chair. I suggest you prepare a cup of warm cocoa before watching… to help get you through the blustery scenes.

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