I think the old saying is, “getting there is half the adventure.” For a winter trip to Yellowstone, that may be an understatement. Especially if you get to ride in an R-12 Bombardier or a Bombardier as the locals would say. These historic snowcoaches have been used to access the park’s interior since 1955.
The Bombardier season begins with the opening of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in mid-December. Xanterra Parks and Resorts operate 21 Bombardiers as part of their transportation fleet.
Alpen Guides of West Yellowstone, Montana also operates a small fleet of Bombardiers. You will find help locating all the companies that supply services in winter by visiting our website (www.nps.gov/yell).
These snowcoaches are just plain cool, with bucket seats up front and a bench seats in back. They say it can hold 10 people, but that’s a tight fit. Some even come with both a luggage and a ski rack. Throw in a sun roof and now you’re styling.
Bombardiers have become somewhat of an icon. They symbolize our societies struggle to both enjoy and protect the places we love. History or no history, these snowcoaches will need to use the “best available technology,” to continue fascinating winter visitors.
In the winter of 2007-2008, Xanterra began experimenting with ways of making these coaches quieter and cleaner. That winter, snowcoach 707 was equipped with catalytic converters and better computer, fuel injection, and muffler systems.
Hopefully, future improvements will allow these Bombardiers to continue their service here in Yellowstone. By utilizing new cleaner technology as it comes along, we will ensure Yellowstone is protected for the future.
Overall, it’s the resource that brings us here. From the wild animals to the thermal features, Yellowstone is amazing in winter. But, take it from an old snowcoach driver, “that’s one hot bombardier.”