Yielding in Yellowstone

Y is for Yellowstone and Yosemite…two of the greatest parks in the U.S.

I wrote about Yosemite earlier last year Here and Here. Now I’ll post a little about Yellowstone. It was set aside in 1872 as America’s first national park. It has tons of geysers, hot pots, and wildlife galore (bears, moose, elk, bison, wolves, coyotes, bald eagles, and other critters).

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I went to Yellowstone my first time in 1988 when I was in a field biology class. It was fascinating, although we were only able to see the upper part of the park since a bunch of fires were burning. The fires burned about 36% of the park that year–the sun was a red ball in the sky that whole fall.

I’ve gone a few times with my family since. In 2001, the lodgepole pines were still pretty small and I was shocked by how the fires had affected the park. So many parts seemed barren–only burnt trunks left standing in huge sections of forest.  That was after 13 years.

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2009–Forest growing back in from 1988 fires

About 8 years later, we went again, and the park was magnificent.  All the burnt sections had trees growing in thick–so thick you couldn’t see the ground. Eventually, these trees will thin themselves out as the smaller ones don’t receive sunlight and die back. But on that trip, it was nature at its best. The burnt forests of 1988 were becoming the most stunning parts of Yellowstone.

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Hiking in valley near Old Faithful–Castle Geyser in background

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Castle Geyser (I thought it should be named Rocket Geyser)

My boy was kind of youngish then, and all he could think about was the pool back at the motel in West Yellowstone. His complaint about the park was that “there were too many trees and no rides.”

That was the highlight for me though. Sometimes, we’d be driving along and I’d think a mountain in the distance was covered in grass. When we’d get closer, I’d realize the grass was a thick section of new lodgepole pines (new as in 20 years old; those things grow slow).

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Buffalo are everywhere (my boy never cooperates with pictures)

If you’ve never been to Yellowstone before, you should go. I have so many favorites about it–the cool geysers everywhere, the pristine valleys filled with hundreds of elk or buffalo, the mighty rivers flowing and gorgeous waterfall, the unique colors of the rivers and dirt from the volcanic action of the earth beneath…the smell of rotten eggs from the steamy sulphur air. It’s incredible!

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Cool colors of Yellowstone

When you go, don’t be in a rush because chances are you’ll get stuck behind (or in the middle of) a huge herd of buffalo making their way up a canyon, or get piled in a bunch of cars stopped in the middle of the road trying to get a picture of a bear or moose. We’ve pulled off the side of the road to watch buffalo babies across the river frolicking about (seriously frolicking–no better word for their jumping and teasing each other, biting tails to get a reaction from another baby or their mom. So funny!)

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We were minding our business in our car–the buffalo kind of pushed their way in front of us (rude!)

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But please don’t be stupid when you go. Remember that people are gored each year by buffalo…and bears can eat you (they have teeth, unlike the cute teddy bears sold in stores). Don’t approach the wildlife (although I always see people doing just that, and have to roll my eyes).

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If you’re not stupid though, you should have a blast in Yellowstone! It will be an experience you’ll always remember. So Yield to Yellowstone.

Char Signature

47 thoughts on “Yielding in Yellowstone

  1. We took the kids to Yellowstone maybe 8 years ago or so. Really loved it. We were surprised by the burned areas. It’s an amazing place. You’ve got some really beautiful pictures. I’ve been wanting to see Glacier National Park. State and National Parks are always great places. They bring a feeling of peace.

  2. Love Yosemite and finally made a trip to Yellowstone last Summer – Beautiful:) What I enjoy about National Parks is the conservation and for many generations to experience the parks (went with my parents and still going in my adult life)! Great Captures – love the Bison Jams too. Happy Monday:)

    • I love those things too. In Yellowstone I love the boardwalks (to keep you off the fragile ground–and probably to keep you from getting burned as well, though it doesn’t seem to bother the bison)

  3. Never considered Yellowstone as a vacation spot but your pictures and descriptions made me add it to the list of places to visit. It looks beautiful and I love the idea of having a chance to see such beautiful wildlife. Thanks for the idea!

    • Yellowstone is pretty big, so we usually break it into sections when we go and concentrate on either the upper or lower loop. The buffalo herds can hold you up for an hour or more on the roads when they’re crossing, so you can’t think that you are going to buzz around at 45 miles per hour or something the whole time. And there are stops every few minutes to park at and go do another hike to another geyser or paint pots. It’s pretty fun. I’ve never tent camped there (the wildlife makes me nervous…but there are campgrounds in the park). We usually stay in West Yellowstone. I’ve heard Jackson is nice as well, but probably a bit more expensive since it’s a nicer resort town.

  4. I think I went there as a young child, but I don’t remember much. I do remember a reptile show with lots of snakes, though. I hate snacks, which is probably why that memory stuck. But I’d love to go back again; this time to enjoy the beauty I no doubt tuned out as a kid.

    • Yeah, young kids don’t seem to enjoy nature. My boy didn’t, fore sure. He just wanted to get back to the hotel and jump in the swimming pool. Snake show sounds very memorable. Shiver.

  5. Can you believe, so close to the end, and I almost forgot to comment on your blog today! It’s only because I was finally getting around to replying to comments on my blog post from a couple of days ago that I saw the one from you and remembered!

    Anyway, really enjoyed this post. I haven’t been to either of those National Parks, in fact I think the only US National Parks I’ve been to are around the Vegas area, loved Zion National Park. Also Death Valley was interesting (is that a National Park?), it was funny because all I heard about before I went to Death Valley was how hot it was, “It’s the hottest place EVER, be prepared!” they said, and then when we went, it was really cold! Ha! And I wasn’t prepared for that…

    • Zion is one of my favorites (my grandma lived 30 min away and we went there all the time as a kid and hiked every single trail.) I love that one! I would do it for Z tomorrow, but already touched on it last year. That’s funny that Death Valley was cold for you. I’ve never been actually, even though I grew up in Vegas. Weird, huh?

  6. We haven’t been to Yellowstone or Yosemite yet, but someday we will. We had to stop for buffalo sometimes at Custer State Park, but not for any real length of time. Today on my way to the office, I did have to stop for a pair of Canada Geese, though. 😉

    • Yeah, don’t mess with geese. During mating season, I drove down the road to my house and a male goose hissed and attacked the wheel of my van. I was very glad to be in the safety of my van.

  7. Lovely photos! Looks a little too wild for me, especially when you mentioned people getting gored by buffaloes and attacked by bears… Not my idea of the perfect vacation. 😉

    I hear you about everything regrowing very slowly after wildfires. It’s been 10 years since the largest wildfires in San Diego and most areas are still completely bare of any decent size trees. The brush is back on the hills but the mountains are bare. That’s why we don’t vacation in our own mountains or hike in there. Way too depressing.

    • It is sooooo slow growing back…but so beautiful when the trees finally get about 6 feet tall and start covering the ground. You wouldn’t have to worry about getting gored. Those people are the stupid ones taking off after buffalo and bear to get a good picture. Just use your zoom lens and you’ll be fine.

  8. This is absolutely magnificent, Char. Thank you for taking me on this journey today – I didn’t realise what a beautiful place it was (okay, I WILL go there one day) 😀

    • I love it. I consider Yosemite the most picturesque park and Yellowstone the wildest with all the animals and volcanic activity just under the surface. A lot of the hikes are on boardwalks because of the hot ground in a lot of places and all the bubbling minerals glopping all over as well as geysers shooting off here and there. They are both unique parks that I really love.

  9. Your pictures are beautiful and bring back great memories for me. I love Yellowstone! We took our kids last year for the first time, and they loved it. It’s an experience you can’t quite get anywhere else. (My pictures didn’t turn out as well as yours, though.) Very fun.

    • It is a cool place. I’m glad you and your family got to visit there. And I don’t know if I take that great of pictures or if I just spruce them up good with Picassa. I love that free program (it makes average pictures amazing with one click)

        • Well, we don’t have an expensive camera, so maybe some of them are actually good pics. But know that 90% of them are pretty mediocre and I don’t put them on my blog.

  10. I’d have a tough time not wanting to feed those cute wittle baby buffalo! But I wouldn’t want to deal with big Momma buffalo.

    I love the pix, especially of the geysers!

    • Those wittle meeses were so cute! They were like little rabbits, bouncing around, kicking their back legs out, just trying to see what their widdle bodies could do.

      • We’ve had 3 little calves here so far (2 more due any day!), and they really are the cutest little things when they run and bronc. The little bulk calf just runs and jumps and plays, he’s sooo fun to watch. They have the biggest knobby knees when they’re babies!

        • The buffalo looked like little cow calves…so you are lucky to see that all the time. I love their knobby knees–they are charming awkward.

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