On Safari in Yellowstone National Park

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Story and photos by Alaina Hower
December 2014

 We left Thermpolis early in the morning and headed Northwest to Yellowstone National Park. Having never been before, I was excited to see the geysers and bison and happy to be going someplace new and iconic. The approach to Yellowstone was epic in itself. Passing through tunnels and driving alongside The Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir just outside of Cody, Wyoming, headed straight on into the mountains. The peaks rise up on both sides of the road and the steady climb in elevation begins. When we crossed into Yellowstone, I bought a National Parks pass for the year and we drove towards herds of bison, Old Faithful, many waterfalls and the spectacular sights that awaited us!

We pulled over shortly after entering the park to let the dog out to roam for a moment and stretch her legs. Similar to other parks, dogs aren’t allowed outside of the parking areas so I thought this spot was perfect, little picnic table, two parking spots, right by a lake, great. I hop out and am walking around to the back of my truck when two tourists approach me and whisper, “Do you see the buffalo?!” It’s about twenty feet behind my truck laying on the ground under a tree, chewing on some grass. Perfect. Check that off the list. We take some pictures, distract the dog in the opposite direction and head on our way. We took a seven hour crash course of a National Park I want to revisit again and again. After all, we had a schedule to keep and had yet to stray too far from our timeline.

Driving in from the East entrance of the park brings you around to a view of the vast and twinkling Yellowstone Lake. It is large, deep blue and resembles a mountaintop ocean with beaches littered in driftwood. Herds of bison roam in meadows as we continue on towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a huge chasm formed by the warm waters of the Yellowstone River. The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone tumble 308 feet into a large and slowly eroding canyon of pink and yellow volcanic rock. Hearty lodgepole pine trees cling to the steep edges and the Yellowstone River rolls on far below. We make our way to Old Faithful, “the world’s best known geyser.” There are hot springs and mudpots and eruptions of steam on both sides of the road all along the way. We take Firehole Canyon Drive and follow yet another gushing river to Firehole Falls before making our way back to the main road and pressing on. We finally arrive at the massive and maze-like parking lot of The Old Faithful Lodge. With about a half an hour to spare before the next eruption we take the dog for a walk, visit the gift store for a stockpile of postcards and head out to the crowded platform to await the famed eruption of the Old Faithful Geyser. It starts out slow and then gains momentum. Shooting high into the sky the steam and spray is greeted with exclamations of joy and hearty cheers from the crowd that has gathered. Applause and smiles at its finish, Old Faithful has pleased another group of people out in the middle of nowhere drinking in all of the natural wonders.

We grab a bite to eat and are heading back to the truck for more, when the skies darken and the temperature drops and rain starts splattering the windshield. It’s been an amazing day, but we still need to get to Butte, Montana by nightfall and there are many miles to go before we rest. We bid Yellowstone goodbye and continue in a Northwesterly direction. We reach Interstate 90 West as the sun is setting, 25 miles or so to Butte. I’d go back to Yellowstone National Park anytime. You should get there quick as you can.


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