At Scenic Safaris, we’re privy to one of the biggest secrets in travel: You don’t have to cross the ocean to see impressive wildlife and one-of-a-kind scenery. America’s National Parks are home to abundant – and sometimes exotic – wildlife, from moose and elk to bears, coyotes and protected bird species like the peregrine falcons found at Yellowstone.
The scenery at Yellowstone and Grand Teton easily bests an African safari, with gushing geysers, snow-capped peaks, and even waterfalls. It’s like getting a “best parts” tour of a rainforest, desert and plains environment all in one place. The seasoned guides at Scenic Safaris have seen more than their share of animal activity, as well as some intriguing interactions between humans and nature.
We caught up with Scenic Safaris guide Jason Smith between adventures at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Scenic Safaris offers summer and winter tours that put guests right in the center of the action. “We pride ourselves on being an industry leader on safety and guest experience,” says Smith. Read on to hear about his run-ins with dangerous animals and celebrities, as well as the wild and imaginative things you can expect to do on one of his tours.
Has anyone famous ever taken your tour?
I had a cast member from The Walking Dead on a snowmobile trip this past winter. We do occasionally get some professional athletes, musicians, movie stars, and government leaders (both domestic and international) throughout our summer and winter season.
Tell us about a time one of the animals got a little too close.
Last winter, I was guiding in Yellowstone next to the Grand Canyon and we spotted a coyote a hundred yards away as we were taking photos of some bison. It was quite windy and the coyote started to walk towards us, hunting in the snow. Eventually he stopped about twenty yards away from our group and was staring intently at the snow he was standing on.
At that point, he looked up and noticed that we were watching him. He was a little startled. He then jumped straight in the air and punched his face deep in the snow. As his head emerged from the snow, we noticed he had captured lunch – a small vole [field mouse] that had been traveling in snow tunnels. He looked up at us again as if to say, “look what I found!” He started walking away with his hors d’oeuvres in the clutches of his mouth and gave the guests some great photo opportunities.
What are some of the unusual things travelers can do on a Scenic Safaris tour?
We often have guests try things in the snow that they do not have the opportunity to do in their home town. For example, we will have people line up for a foot race in knee deep snow. It is a unique experience, and much more difficult than people think it would be – especially at 8000 feet!
Scenic Safaris offers nearly 20 customized walking, driving, floating and snowmobile options – including ATV backcountry tours, a half-day Teton snowmobile excursion and guided hikes through Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. “There are so many safaris that we offer it is hard to pick a favorite,” says Smith. “It is more a matter of what the group is looking for, because every group is unique.” CLICK HERE or call 888-734-8898 today and get your camera ready for your next adventure in America’s Heartland.