It’s strange to think that, though I worked twelve miles away from it for almost six months combined, I never made it to Norris Geyser Basin, for I have never seen a site as magical as Norris in the snow. Norris always represented “we’re finally on the road!” or “we’re so close to getting home!” or “oh, look at all the traffic; there must be a bear jam ahead.” Norris had never represented a wonderland of colours against a stark white background.

We rode from Mammoth to Old Faithful, and while I didn’t get to stop by my beloved Canyon, I was excited to see friends from prior summers. In two summers, I’d only ever seen Old Filthy go off once–it had never been a priority–so I was impressed to see her erupt again with a mountain of steamy water thrust into the air defiantly, as if she were spiting the snow.

I’ve always admired the strength of Yellowstone  trees and their guardian presence, but never have appreciated them as much as in the winter, when they hold feet of snow upon their limbs, occasionally shaking some off but mostly bearing the grunt. I’ve always felt fond of bison, but they seem much friendlier when they’re walking through feet of snow without a care or on the precarious ground protecting thermal features with their thousands of pounds.

Firehole Falls, always just the place for midnight skinny dipping or midday cooling off, turns into a crazy green fall behind a frozen screen of water. The colours of the mud pots, normally impressive, become grandiose when snow falls on top of their bubbles to provide a contrast.

The entire park is white, white for as far as the eye can see, illuminating the trees and just how incredible the many thermal features are. When I remember Yellowstone, I think of the trails I hiked and the mountains I climbed. Seeing it in winter made me appreciate just why it draws tourists from all over to see the bubbling water and columns of steam.