My journey to Yellowstone National Park, although a short trip, brings about a lengthy story. For now, I will start with the classic overview of the park and a summary of my favorite sites. QUICK RUNDOWN There are many beautiful sights in the gigantic land that is Yellowstone National Park. It would have been impossible to see everything in the short 2.5 days I had there. If you are aiming to see as much as possible I recommend that you plan at least 4.5 to 6 days. It is the Disneyworld of National Parks! (Grand Canyon was Disneyland) 🙂 The roads in the park are better maintained than the roads in the surrounding cities. The map is easy to follow, the trails are well marked and it is not usually encouraged to go off of the path for safety reasons. Everything listed above can be either good or bad, depending on how you look at it. The bright side is that Yellowstone is very accessible for all age groups. The downside, you will find all age groups there. Lots of them. The park is crazy crowded everywhere. There is no getting in touch with nature here. You have to work really hard to find a peaceful spot to reflect on the wonders that you are viewing. In a way, it’s a little disappointing and not what I thought it would be. However, hordes of people aside, if you look at the sites themselves, there were some truly spectacular things to see. With that said, let’s begin my list!
YELLOWSTONE TOP 3
Norris Geyser Basin A geothermal area in the Northwest portion of the park. Take a quick 10 minute walk down a trail to the open plain and killer view of the basin. There are many colors as well as a bunch of densely packed geothermal features. It was interesting to see pockets of steam released throughout the plain. It was otherworldly to say the least.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
When researching Yellowstone National Park, this is a popular location that comes up fairly often in pictures. It was a beautiful. There was a waterfall that leads down in to the canyon. This is probably the closest I have ever been to a waterfall of this size. It’s very loud and you can sense the power of the water. There is a switchback trail that lead down to the overlook where the photo opportunities are abundant. The walk down and back up is about 35 minutes in total. It’s not that bad if you take it easy. This is a must see.
By far, my favorite site in Yellowstone. The colors are ridiculous. It doesn’t look like something you should find on our planet. The neon colors look best from an aerial view. My top tip for this site is to not go to the site. You can walk up to it on its designated trail but all you see is some water that looks colored and the steam rising off of it. I recommend to go to the next stop over called Fairy Falls and hike about 15 minutes on the trail and about 10 minutes up the mountain on the left. It offers a view worthy of the colors! Also, there are significantly less people here because not many know to do this. This was the only site I visited where it was just my friends and me for a brief moment. It had an adventurous quality about it, to hike up the hill, find a clearing and to turn around and see the Grand Prismatic. That is what Yellowstone should be about.
WHAT NO ONE TOLD ME Old Faithful …
On my top 3, I am sure you have noticed, Old Faithful is not on there. That’s because no one told me that it wasn’t that cool. Now, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t see Old Faithful. I just felt like it was very anti-climactic. It’s a geyser… and it goes off at a predictable tme, but that’s it. All the tourists gather around in semi-circle seating in front of the geyser. Then it goes off… everyone takes photos and it’s done. Some people even clap for the geyser, because it did such a great job! (Insert eye roll) All in all, from a scientific standpoint, I bet it truly is impressive. From a tourist standpoint, after I got some images, I didn’t feel compelled to stay any longer.
Geothermal sites smell funny.
The hydrogen sulfide gas rising from the ground emits a rotten egg smell. You can only smell it in the immediate area, but when you smell it, it gets all up in your face! Don’t let this discourage you from seeing the sites though! Just be prepared. Getting caught off guard for a smell like that can be unfortunate.
Animals are celebrities
There are a wide range of animals that you may encounter while within the Yellowstone Park. There are deer, elk, moose, sheep, wolves, bison and even bears! The animals I saw most frequently were the deer and bison. It’s a fun experience to see a bison just crossing the street like it owns the place. The humans get excited for the animals because they are the celebrities of Yellowstone. When there is an animal nearby, all hell breaks out. Traffic builds up because people stop driving to take photos and they straight up abandon their cars in the road. When word gets out that there is an animal close, tourist come running with their cameras in hand, like they are the paparazzi. They crowd the animals while they are eating or trying to spend time with their young. The cameras have no shame, and before the animal can stop them, their face is already on the internet. No privacy. Poor things. It’s a hard life being so sought after, I’m sure.
All in all, Yellowstone National Park was a life experience. It’s nice to be able to say I’ve been. I’m not sure if it is necessarily some place I would be itching to go to again, but it was worth it to go at least once. There would have to be a lot of technical factors I need to work out, things that I learned on this trip I would have to apply on the next one. (Stay tuned for my next article to find out what I am talking about!) But If I go back, it will be to see a bear. Out of all the sites and animals I saw, no bears and that bums me out. Maybe the bears were too busy fighting off potential forest fire starters. Who knows? For now, just a bison selfie.