It is one of those places one assumes you will travel to at some point in your life. The nation’s first Park dedicated to allowing the entire nation to enjoy nature and natural animal habitat. Even though all national parks are celebrating their Centennial year, Yellowstone has actually existed much longer. It was dedicated in 1872, and is more than 2.2 million acres of mostly backcountry forested land. It touches Idaho, Montana and mostly Wyoming, and there are 5 different directions to enter.
We had the privilege of spending one day in the Park with Marc’s sister, brother-in-law, daughter and son-in-law and granddaughters. One day in such a huge Park is not enough, but it gave us a taste of why this is such an amazingly popular place.
We left Jackson Hole about 7:30 am, and drove the two hours through Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone, and then another 45 minutes to get to the main Visitor Center and Old Faithful Geyser. Starting early is recommended, and even earliler would have been to our advantage in hindsight, but we still got great seats on the benches and boardwalk to watch the eruption. After that bucket-list-check-off, we were told by Rangers that just a quick walk up and around a hillside, we might see another geyser eruption from the ‘….’ Geyser. This geyser is much less predictable, and we were told they weren’t sure if it would erupt, but every indication was that it might happen in a reasonable timeframe.
Erupt it did! It was actually more magnificent, longer and stronger than the Old Faithful Geyser, and exciting to watch!
We visited the Information Center, had some lunch and headed up to see several other sites, along with about 10,000 of our closest vehicle-traveling friends! Wow, in some ways Yellowstone feels a lot like Disneyland. Everyone drives to the next parking lot and scouts for a parking place, so they can trek in lines to see whatever the next exhibit is. It takes longer to park and get to the exhibit than you have to stop and enjoy it often.
One of my favorites was the Prismatic ….. The colors in these pools are brilliant, and a bit eery, as they are created by very hot living bacteria, and people have actually died from accidentally falling into these innocent pools.
We continued around to several exhibits until the late afternoon, when the girls and the older folks in the party were showing their wear and tear. One thing Lizzie, one of our great nieces really and truly wanted to see were the bison. We had seen some elk, and several birds, but no bison. We were making our way around the loop to head back to Jackson when we came over a hill traffic was at a standstill barely off the road. People were getting out of their cars, and wandering across the highway, with Rangers trying to direct traffic in both directions. As we creeped closer, we could see several people with cameras, and spotted what they were seeing – a lone bison off in the distance, lumbering across the plain. There was no place to stop, so we promised Lizzie we would look more.
Barely a mile down the road, and over another hill, we came upon a large pullout, with only 2 cars in it, and out in the valley below it – a herd of more than 50 bison, close enough to see without binoculars or a camera lens! We hopped out and started watching and some of the bison were running up a steep slope and tumbling back down, as if they were playing some kind of game! It was hilarious! Others were rolling in dirt patches and grazing, but very active. We shot some photos, enjoyed the moment and drove on down the road, where there were even more bison on another hillside. We began to laugh at the poor saps who had stopped too soon and probably missed the best entertainment of the afternoon!
We didn’t make it through to all the Points of Interest, including the famed Yellowstone Falls – so I guess this will not be our only trip to the Park. We’ll go again and look forward to it!
Photo Gallery: click to view slideshow