Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as the first national park to preserve the vast array of geysers littered throughout the park. Although the main attraction of the park are the myriad of geysers, there are many secrets hidden within the park that make it so unique. It is a dramatic landscape from the boiling hot springs to the immense waterfalls scattered throughout Yellowstone. I arrived in Yellowstone around 1 AM on Monday morning where the total and complete darkness reassures the true wildness of this place. There are no city streetlamps or shops along the road to light the way through the winding roads of Yellowstone, the only light here is from your car headlights or the shine of the moon on the road. It was incredible to see the next day just how many people frequent the park in the summertime. Campsites were filled, parking spaces were taken, and attractions were buzzing with activity. Despite all the craziness, it was easy to get lost in the incredible beauty I saw before my eyes. There were lush green trees to vast plains reminiscent of the Serengeti plains of my homeland to geysers spewing out boiling hot water 100 feet into the air.
Immediately when I think of Yellowstone, I think of Old Faithful, one of the most famous geysers in the park. I arrived at the viewing area about 5 minutes before the estimated time of eruption was. Already a crowd had formed to observe the famous geyser in action. I sat on the benches with my family and in front of us was this family with 2 small children, an older boy and a younger girl, both waiting for the geyser to erupt. As we were waiting, the two were providing commentary on the geyser as it came closer to the time for Old Faithful to put on a show. It was a moment I will never forget because as everyone around us was waiting in anticipation, these two kids were having fun commentating on the false start that came before the geyser really shot water up into the air. Seeing Old Faithful firsthand was something absolutely amazing and out of this world. There was something so beautiful about how the water first erupted out of the geyser in this white blanket that shot straight up into the air and then began to evaporate leaving trails coming off the water. Luck seemed to be on my side as I carried on with my family to see the other geysers in the area because the geysers seemed to erupt as soon as we approached them. There was one in particular that I witnessed which was absolute luck because it only erupted about once every 3 months that spewed water for a solid 20 minutes straight.
Geysers aren’t all that Yellowstone has to offer. Walking along the network of boardwalks shows visitors the absolutely stunning hot springs that, although look very inviting, are extremely hot and incredibly dangerous. The colors of the hot springs are absolutely amazing and I gaze at my pictures of them in awe and disbelief because of how vivid they are. Some of the most incredible blues and greens are evident in these waters. There are some hot springs that are bordered by an orange color which at first glance looks like earth colored orange but is actually bacteria that thrive in the hot conditions. Another feature is the infamous mudpot which looks as if mud is boiling as it bubbles and pops continuously. The mudpots are interesting to watch as it looks like they are forever in a boiling cycle all the while releasing sulfuric fumes that smell like rotten eggs. The fumes can be overwhelming so I suggest checking out all these attractions in moderation, if it gets to be too much walk to an area with fresh air for a little bit and then head back to see more hot springs or mudpots.
One of the most incredible features of Yellowstone is the amount of wildlife scattered throughout the park. This was my first trip to the park and I saw more wildlife than any of my other camping trips combined! The most frequent animal that I saw was the majestic bison. I was in the park in late August which was right after the breeding cycle so there were plenty of bison roaming around with little calves. In Yellowstone the animals rule all, I was stuck in traffic on several separate occasions due to bison or deer crossing the road. In Yellowstone, the bison has the right of way. I had the opportunity to see a bison up close and personal as it was walking down the road towards our car on the 2 lane road that goes throughout the park. This bison walked right past my window where I was able to snap a picture of it and has been one of the animal encounters that has resonated with me all these years. The American Bison is an absolutely magnificent creature and to see one up close and personal is an experience that I will hold dear to me. Unfortunately, the more elusive animals such as the grizzly bear or wolf remained hidden from me the entire week I was in Yellowstone. I did hear stories of fellow visitors that saw bears and wolves on their travels, but we just didn’t seem to be in the right place at the right time to see them.
Apart from the obvious features, Yellowstone also has an immense network of forest life throughout the park. It was amazing to see the scars from the huge wildfire that burned through many acres of the park in the 80’s. There were just patches and patches of dead trees littered in the problem areas but it was cool to see the forest reviving itself from the effects of such a huge loss. My first visit to Yellowstone National Park is one that I will never forget. Although it has been years now since I have been back, it is not the last I will ever see of Yellowstone. I will be back one day ready to find more hidden treasures that the park has to offer and maybe even see a bear or wolf. The beauty that is Yellowstone is one of the reasons that I have loved to travel and adventure through various national parks because these are landscapes that should only be shaped by natural forces and not through human influence. The more humans encroach on natural wildlife, the less beauty there will be left for future generations to see. The national park system is becoming more and more important to preserve nature for the present and the future.
Till next time Yellowstone,