We visited Yellowstone on Monday and Wednesday. We drove through part of Yellowstone on Saturday, as we were heading to our conference in Powell, WY.
Yellowstone is a challenge to explain. In ways, it’s under-whelming in that it is so big that you can’t see it all, understand it all, or appreciate it all. It’s like driving through a country or a state: you drive, you see, you keep on going. That’s the macro view.
The micro view is hard to fully appreciate because there are one-hundred zillion micro views. It really seems limitless, which is part of what makes it simultaneously under-whelming (because it’s too much: like the national debt—at some point you can’t comprehend things that large) and satiably intriguing and amazing.
It depends on your view. I think a child would want to go to a theme park and enjoy the rides. That is not Yellowstone.
Then, again, you could go and spend ten years exploring the park and still not collect it all in your mind.
It’s kinda like God: He transcends our understanding and then He is near us, and we can’t get enough of Him.
On Monday we went to see Old Faithful. There are over 300 geysers in the park; Old Faithful is the most famous and the one that shoots up the highest.
About every 90 minutes it squirts the hot steam and water into the sky. We were there long enough to see it go off twice. It was under-whelming to me because I had heard about it all my life and seen it in video, which somehow led me to think it was bigger than it really is.
It was okay, but the good news is that Yellowstone is so much more than that.
We spent the majority of the day exploring the other 300 geysers. Interesting was the word that kept coming to my mind, except when I was thinking about the word volcano.
Yellowstone is a volcano that would make Mt. St. Helens look like a damp firecracker. I could not help but think about why I was walking around on a volcano. I was not comfortable with that idea. I walked, observed, and prayed.
Our first day’s trip began by going to West Yellowstone, a smallish town (very small) that was built up around one of the entrances to the park.
The park is so big that there are several entrances, depending on where you are coming from. A theme park, even Disney World, has one entrance. Yellowstone is too big for that.
The West Yellowstone entrance led to a more flattened out tour of the park–for the most part. It did not have the character or the topography of the north entrance, which we took on Wednesday.
Our main goal was to see Old Faithful and the other geysers.
The geysers were hot, bubbling pools that had boardwalks built around them. We were regularly warned via signage to not get off the boardwalks.
You could be burned or you could sink in a hot pod, which would be something like a hot, boiling water, quicksand type experience. Even the rowdiest person in the park had no problem obeying that rule.
On Wednesday we took the north entrance route. BTW, from Bozeman both trips to the west or north entrances was a good two hours.
The town that was built around the north entrance was bigger and had more character. You could spend a half-day there and enjoy it.
We had a bison burger.
As for that part of the park, you immediately liked it within the first 500 yards. There were mountains and streams. The likelihood of seeing animals was also immediate.
The streams cutting through the vegetation was what you expected and wanted. It was simply beautiful. We quickly made it up to 6000 feet and kept climbing. We topped out at 9000 feet where we pulled over and had a snowball fight. In June.
We saw lots of elk, deer, and bison. I got within four feet (extended selfie-stick) to video a bison having dinner (dinner was not me). The elk were all over the place, including Mammoth Springs Resort, where there were picnic tables that you couldn’t get to because of the elk grazing all around them.
It was on this trip where we got the rainbow shot (see the Montana post). All of the animal shots were made from this trip too. Mountains, valleys, streams, animals, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and endless gorgeous shots of God’s creation dominated this day’s adventure.
If you are a hiker or camper type, this place offers endless surprises. You could camp here for months and never take it all in.
A Camper’s Caveat: This is the home where the bear and the bison roam. This is their place. Therefore, bear mace is essential, plus maybe a few other ways to protect yourself. The animals are not inhibited by us. Be warned.