Alternative Transportation

What a Wednesday in Yellowstone! Whether you just need a lift to Mammoth or Old Faithful, or want to stay aboard for an entire day’s guided adventure, a Yellowstone Park shuttle is the way to go.

Leaving Bozeman about 7 am, our first stop was for a latte and scone at Tubby’s in West Yellowstone. I liked this way of visiting Yellowstone Park already. We drove under the arches and within minutes had spotted a pair of bald eagles, elk, bison, a bear, a herd of tourists struggling to move a fallen tree blocking the road, and eventually, bright-yellow water lilies on Isa Lake, a beautiful body of water that spans the Continental Divide.

At the Old Faithful cafeteria, while chowing down on mac ‘n’ cheese, the famous geyser faithfully erupted. Moving on with full tummies, we spotted a fire near LeHardy Rapids. Looking back from Dunraven Pass, we saw that it was cranking and had spread to 10 acres. (Eventually the fire erupted to over 4,500 acres and a hotshot firefighter had an encounter with a grizzly.) Later we stopped for ice cream cones and took the "old road" from Mammoth back to Gardiner.

Through it all, our shuttle driver Martin Burnham was phenomenal. A Montana native from Lewistown, the guy manifested a deep love and knowledge of the Park. He even carried a reference book with him so that riders could look up the various names and etymologies of Park features.

At $85, the shuttle is a good deal if you want to visit Yellowstone solo, despise driving, or have too many visitors to cram into your Subaru. Plan a 12-hour itinerary (320 miles using their gas, not yours). It’s about $7 an hour to sit on your tush enjoying the scenery and learning about our jewel of a backyard. Most therapists charge at least $75 an hour and I decided that perhaps I’d do this every Wednesday as my own mental health investment. Heck, take your counselor with you and do double duty.

Karst Stage’s Yellowstone shuttle departs on Wednesday mornings from Livingston, Bozeman, Big Sky, or West Yellowstone. Bring your Park pass or plan to pay the entrance fee. Contact Karst Stage at 556-3540;