" I don't know how the park works now, with the guide system, "
I did snow machine trips in the old days and three in the "guided" system. The "old day" is what gave winter touring in Yellowstone a bad name... a ranger about the impact of the snow mobiles. He said... In the "old days", the rangers were giving out about 600 citations a day for chasing animals, going out of bounds and general bad behavior.
This is absolute B U L L !!! 600 a day, I grew up close to the park and did visit it by snow machine back then, I would be very skeptical if the park ever had enough riders in it on one single day, maybe a hugely popular weekend but very seldom during the winter months to statistically create the possibility of 600 citations a day in front of the limited amount of Rangers patrolling the park in winter?! Ha! What a bunch of...
As an avid Cross Country skier I will never defend snowmobilers, but some stupid park ranger claiming bull like this is ridiculous! Most of the snowmobilers that use to be able to frequent the Park know of Island Park and areas nearby where they have free reign to drive fast and off trail. Most of the locals are quite aware of the dangers in winter and respect the backcountry for it, of the few times I've known people to get lost in the park by going off road they were complete eco-tourist idiots. and yes it is quite the favorite past time to tell the glorious foolishness that happens in the park there are some great songs by employees that memorize them, but most of that is during the summer. Nowhere close to the spin that Ranger was spewing to restrict winter access like they have.
I've just returned from spending a good deal of time visiting the folks and this is a very hot topic in that is has shut down West Yellowstone's economy and limited the Park to only the very wealthy no longer a Park for the people. I do apologize for the off topic post but do find this quote misleading to people reading an internet forum distantly thinking this new policy is anywhere close to a justified one. The rich should pay more taxes if they get this type of treatment or those Rangers should lose their jobs for not having their previous workload.
To the OP: if you have some time to leave the park and have cross country skies, Harriman State Park over in Idaho is a great place to photograph the recovered Trumpeter Swan and is quite pretty in the winter. the Book Peddler in West Yellowstone has good coffee, and Gennies outside of town by the lake is a great place to cook your own steak, have a good pair of glove liners for keeping your hands semi-warm when fiddling with camera gear.