The world’s first National Park, Yellowstone is a place like no other. With its incredible beauty, abundant wildlife, and unique geothermal features – Yellowstone is simply a “must see” on anyone’s bucket list.
We stayed at a campground right in the town of West Yellowstone, which was super convenient for accessing the Park and town. We could walk downtown and enjoy browsing the shops and sightseeing. We toured the Yellowstone Historic Center, and took in two movies at the IMAX theater. As posted earlier, we ate at the famed taco bus, and took in a play. But the highlight of our stay was the National Park.
We have visited YNP twice before, so enjoyed revisiting some of the highlights: Old Faithful, the Canyon, Mammoth Springs, and Hayden Valley. We also had the opportunity to explore some areas that we hadn’t previously, such as Norris geyser basin and Yellowstone Lake.
The geothermal features are always fascinating to me. Geysers splutter, roar and spit water and steam high into the air. Mud pots plop and burp multi-colored goo. And hot springs burble serenely, creating inviting (but deadly) clear blue pools. There are so many colors and configurations, I could watch them all day. It connects me somehow to the center of the earth itself.
Animal spotting is inevitable. While just driving the park roads, you’ll see elk, lumbering bison and a variety of bird life. If you are fortunate enough to spot an animal carcass, you may see a whole feeding drama play out.
In the Hayden Valley, we happened across just such a spot. A buffalo carcass was located across the river, but close enough to observe bears feeding. We watched as a scarred old warrior of a grizzly bear sat in possession of the carcass while a larger (but younger) male grizzly circled hopefully around. At the same time, a coyote edged closer, also circling the food source, but never quite daring to snatch a bite. At one point, the coyote did a number 2 right in front of the old bear. I’m not sure if he was attempting to claim territory or just expressing an opinion. The younger bear eventually wandered a bit too close, and the old bear charged him off. The younger bear backed off, sitting down heavily in the grass, rejected and dejected. The coyote also eventually gave up, wandering away to disappear into the meadow. It was clear that the old grizzly had no intention of giving up his food supply to anyone!
The roadside crowd with its binoculars and telephoto lenses took on a sports arena vibe – who would win the food struggle? The audience watched every move, cheering on the players, debriefing every play. We eventually moved on to other sights, but this was as good as any game on TV!
This wasn’t our first visit to Yellowstone, and it most definitely won’t be our last!