Monday, June 4, 2012

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most spectacular displays of geothermal activity in the world, and if you haven't been there yet, it should definitely be on your bucket list. Yellowstone has it all – beautiful mountains, a grand canyon, lakes, amazing wildlife, and of course the geysers and hot springs. Bob and I have been there twice – for a week in 2003, and again in 2010. There is so much to see and do that it would be impossible to ever get tired of this national treasure.

In 2003 we were lucky enough to be able to stay in the Fishing Bridge RV park, which is within the park. In 2010 they were renovating the Fishing Bridge campground, so we stayed in the Yellowstone KOA which is in West Yellowstone, Montana. Although expensive, the Yellowstone KOA was a great place to come home to after a long day of touring the park. We absolutely enjoyed the indoor swimming pool with the spa. Located only six miles outside of the West Yellowstone entrance, it was an easy drive to get into the park.

You need at least three days to see most of the major sights. The Grand Loop encompasses the Upper and Lower Loops. This takes you through most of the major areas of the park. If you only have a day to tour this park, the Lower Loop probably has the most to see, including

  • Old Faithful, of course!

    Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

  • Midway Geyser Basin and Lower Geyser Basin including Fountain Paint Pot.

  • The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

    Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - Yellowstone National Park
If you get a chance, make sure to take a swim in the Firehole River. We did that in 2003, and it is one of my favorite memories of the park.  Located on the Firehole Canyon Drive, past the scenic Firehole Falls, there's a swimming hole with a changing room. The water is comfortably warm since many of the geysers drain into the Firehole River.

Here's a three minute video encapsulating what we saw on our 2010 trip.

This last trip we took the time to tour the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It was worth the visit just to see the wolves and bears up close. 
Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center, West Yellowstone
It was more interesting, however, to see the bears in the wild.  We were lucky enough to get a real good view of a mother Grizzly bear with two cubs climbing up Mount Washburn.

As far as seeing wildlife goes, I think Yellowstone is by far the best National Park.  Wherever you go you're bound to see bison, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope.  
Pronghorn antelope, Yellowstone National Park
Bison, Yellowstone National Park
If you're lucky you'll see bears, coyotes, moose, bighorn sheep, and wolves.  The park also has mountain lions and lynx.

We have yet to see the wolves in the wild, although we've traveled to Hayden Valley many times with a spotter scope. Guess we'll just have to go back for another visit!