We’ve finally made it home, after nearly a month on the road. As I mentioned to Nick in the remaining few days of the trip, I think there definitely were a few “it’s a little too soon” moments for me from living out of a tent again. A familiar smell (need of a shower and laundry probably), a little sleep deprived, or noticing your diet is starting to have too many reoccurring foods….all may have played a factor in flashbacks of the trail but even with the urges of needing to sleep in a bed again, I must say, our trip was amazing!
Our last leg of the trip was spent in Yellowstone National Park. We were feeling a little weary as we drove south towards the park that the skies still seemed a little smoky, but luckily we were pleasantly surprised that even with some regional fires still burning the park seemed to be a little clearer. Nick and I were not too familiar with Yellowstone besides the typical answer to the question “What do you see in Yellowstone?”….Old Faithful! We knew there wouldn’t be as much hiking as the other parks so our expectations led us to believe it would be a lot of driving and checking out the sights.
Turns out, we were blown away at how much Yellowstone has for you to see! Yellowstone has one of the largest intact temperate zone ecosystems in the world, so there was a whole new experience for us to see every day we were there.
One of the main attractions that we took in our first day were the springs and geysers. I always find thermal pools fascinating and while in New Zealand a few years ago, I visited a few geothermal sites there which were amazing. I had no idea that Yellowstone had so many in the park as well! Old Faithful is one of the most famous geysers which we were able to see erupt three times throughout our visit. Pretty amazing and predictable (but predictable in a great way since that they know when it will erupt +- 10 minutes!).
While walking through the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful sits, we also had amazing luck to walk upon Grand Geyser erupting. While Old Faithful erupts typically every 90 minutes, the Grand usually erupts every 6-7 hours so we felt pretty excited to have happened to walk by that amazing sight!
Once we had seen the many geysers of Upper Basin, we took in one of my favorites, the thermal pools and springs. There were so many sizes and colors, and great names to even try and remember so I’m just going to let you see some of my favorites below.
I was in awe of most of these pools, thinking “how do these things even exist on earth?!”
Yellowstone has many geysers and thermal pools, but another thing that are abundant throughout the park….Bison! We had run ins pretty much every day we were in Yellowstone. Our second day we got to experience one of the common “wildlife traffic jams” in which a bison decides to just walk down the road…causing one hell of a spectacle for the humans! This bull was pretty much the size of a small car so it was quite exciting.
Our last official day in the park was even more exciting for our new bison fandom. We were on our way to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone when we spotted a herd of bison across the Yellowstone River from us. We stopped and were able to sit and watch this herd as they relaxed in the river, and eventually, at first one by one, and then the whole herd, each bison crossed the river to the field next to us. It was amazing to watch and one of our favorite moments of the entire trip. Let’s just say we went on to learn more about bison in a two day period of time than most, but that seems to happen when you are able to witness something as amazing as this.
That same afternoon we took a drive through Lamar Valley and our bison count went up to over a hundred! We would just drive a bit, pull over and get to see a large herd roaming in the valley. Truly a unique experience that only Yellowstone could provide.
Lamar Valley is known to have many types of wildlife but one unique animal we came up on was the Pronghorn. Say what? I had never even heard of such a thing until we thought we saw one while in the Grand Tetons but couldn’t quite tell. We came upon a few Pronghorns while out in the valley as they grazed. Fun fact for those who also had no idea about the pronghorn… Pronghorns are one of the fastest land animals over a long distance! They can reach top speeds of around 55 mph and can run at a steady clip of 30 mph for over 20 miles! For comparison with the other fastest land animal, cheetahs can reach speeds of over 60 mph but only for sprints of about 700 yards.
We felt pretty lucky to see so many bison and even some pronghorns. We also got a visit from three giant elk in our campsite one night. Yellowstone gave us the opportunity to see so much wildlife!
One of the last stops we made while in the park was the Grand Canyon. No, not that Grand Canyon….the Grand Canyon OF YELLOWSTONE. While I wouldn’t say it is necessarily comparable to the better known Canyon, it was beautiful!! This was possibly one of my favorite sights to see on the entire trip and put me in quite the state of awe while we stopped and gazed for some time.
After our time at the canyon, we visited the park’s exhibit and learned something very cool! The Grand Canyon was visited during one of the first official government expeditions in 1871, which included geologists, artist Thomas Moran, and photographer William Henry Jackson. The images taken and painted by these artists as well as the scientific findings collected were what convinced Congress in 1872 to set Yellowstone aside as the world’s first national park! How cool is that!?
So as you can tell, I enjoyed Yellowstone quite a bit! Although we enjoyed our other parks thoroughly for the beautiful sights and nearly 100 miles of hiking that we got in during our adventure, Yellowstone was unique for the different types of things you can see at each end of the park. It’s amazing to see something like this exists.
We left on Monday due to waking up to ice and snow in Yellowstone (crazy huh?!) but have returned home to settle back into our lives. I’ll be returning back to work next month but before that comes, Nick and I have one last adventure under our belts. News on that soon!