Yellowstone was just a wonder altogether. Just spending a few days there isn’t enough. You have to breathe in the life, the air, feel the breeze through the trees and watch out for wildlife that would make you feel like you’ve stepped into another place. Of course, being the beginning of summer, there were tourists, but things were just about opening up and we were lucky. We camped at Canyon Campground and Lady Luck favored us because it had just opened up for the season and already spots were filling up fast.
We managed to book a lovely spot for two days and this campground was close to some really great locations. There was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – we did see the falls which was spectacular in itself and the raw beauty that exists there will definitely take your breath away. From seeing nature at her finest to being part of something that seems primitively simple.
You should bring some good hiking shoes if you plan to hit some of the trails there – it is worth spending a lot of time there because there is so much to see. You know, as we traveled within Yellowstone – we saw billowing clouds of smoke rising from the Earth and pools of water in brightly hued colors that seemed as if they fell off a peacock’s feather.
Mammoth Hot Springs was something else. The white calcium carbonate merged well with shades of grey and flame, to give it an almost smoky feel that complimented the rising steam. Thousands of years have passed and the accumulation of the sediments and minerals has given birth to a beautiful landscape. One that looks raw, still smoldering with inner rage, flowing out in bubbling pots of water and mud.
For the enthusiastic traveler – there’s lots to do. There’s the Grand Prismatic Springs which was one of the highlights of the trip – even more so than The Old Faithful, the legendary geyser that erupts predictably every 91 minutes, give or take a few. Its eruptions shoot gallons of water into the air, shooting up to 180 feet. It is a sight to see and lasts a few minutes, enough so that the eager traveler can capture a few shots for posterity’s sake.
For the first time traveler, Yellowstone is the oldest National Park in the US and spans over 8,983 square kilometers. That means there are ample forests and wilderness to get lost in. But the forests and landscape is alive and teeming with wildlife. See the bears frolic near the shade of trees or see the young cubs try their paws at climbing the trees. The Yellowstone Caldera is the world’s largest and is considered to be a supervolcano. It’s no wonder that we see so many geysers and bubbling hot springs. If this were ever to erupt, the world would as we know it would drastically change. However, chances of that catastrophic event occurring is really slim, so there’s no need to worry.
The Upper Geyser Basin has the record for having the most number of geysers in the world and most of them are located within a square mile. These are sights that I had never seen before. Pools shimmering in bright hues of azure blue, aquamarine, emerald and even bright yellow all combined to showcase a display that would rival the world’s brightest emeralds and precious stones.
So, going back to the Grand Prismatic Springs, the water body and the land around it was so colorful, it seemed that God had done a bit of Photoshop work to it. The steam rising from the ground did obscure the beauty of the landscape and for a while we were bummed. But I had read up somewhere about a short hike that would offer an unparalleled view of the Springs and that’s exactly what we did. We drove a little further and parked near Fairy Falls Trail and walked up the hills. This is where we saw this view. Beautiful isn’t it?
There are many funny names, and some ever so obvious like Mud Volcano – a crater that sputters boiling mud ever now and then. There is also a spot named Dragon’s Mouth Spring which can conjure amazing images to mind, but it doesn’t resemble a dragon’s mouth by any means. It does make the place seem more fascinating though.
Yellowstone Lake is the continent’s highest lake, located at 7,737 feet. Fishing enthusiasts can feast on the abundant lake life. Take in the expanse of water, fringed by snow capped mountains in the distance. The Yellowstone River flows from the Lake and flows down the Canyon, which somewhat resembles the famous Grand Canyon. It is worth a visit and perhaps a small hike if you have the time to see the Lower and Upper Canyon Falls.
Although we came here first week of June, you could try visiting the Park even in Autumn, although late Spring is the best time to view the new born animals. We were fortunate enough to see a fox and her young cubs – they were soooo adorable ! The nice thing is that nobody seems to be in a rush – after all, you come here to get a glimpse of nature – so if you spot something out of the ordinary, nobody will honk at you. We also saw many bears and cubs and at one point the rangers had stopped traffic so that the bears could be on their own, without disturbance from humans. They were soon sent on their way by the rangers and by that time we had taken our share of pictures.
There are bison scattered throughout the park. They are big, majestic and mighty creatures, but don’t think them to be docile like cows. More people have been injured by bison rather than bears in the park, yet people will exert more caution with bears. Funny. If you see their size, you’ll know they are not to be trifled with. We were lucky with the weather and had the sun shining down, although we did hear the weather is notoriously fickle. I would love to go back there again. Beautiful, wild, majestic Yellowstone National Park.