Destination Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park had been on my travel bucket list for many years and it certainly lived up to expectations in August as a fascinating and unforgettable place to visit with its geysers, canyons, colorful springs, waterfalls, and assorted wildlife.
I was concerned when flooding ravaged parts of the park on June 12, washing out roads and damaging infrastructure about seven weeks before my tour was scheduled for a two-day visit. But give credit to the National Park Service staff for making the needed repairs that opened most of the park for tourists.
Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the world, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022. Nearly 5 million people visited the park in 2021, the most on record and a 28 percent increase from the Covid-19-affected travel season in 2020. The park ranked third among national parks for visitors in 2021, behind the Great Smoky Mountains and Zion.
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
While it attracts many visitors, the park didn’t seem crowded except in the Old Faithful area. Even there, people were on the hiking trails, visiting the lodge, information center, and restaurants, or congregating at the many observation points.
Yellowstone is a vast park, covering 2.2 million acres, mostly in the northwest corner of Wyoming (96 percent) with tiny sections in Montana (3 percent) and Idaho (1 percent). That’s probably another reason the park wasn’t congested, as it offers innumerable activities for visitors. My tour entered from the north, near the tourist town of West Yellowstone, Montana.
Old Faithful is the famous geyser most associated with Yellowstone, but there’s much more to see and experience at the park. There are about 500 geysers, about half the number in the world, along with other hydrothermal wonders that seem otherworldly.
|A boarded path at the hydrothermal pool|
For the non-backpacking visitor, Yellowstone provides paved and boardwalk paths to view the many sights. It’s also pet-friendly, although certain areas are off limits to our furry friends, especially near geysers and geothermal pools.
And there’s wildlife, although I didn’t see many animals during my visit other than several bison herds. It amazed me that some tourists, despite the warning signs to keep their distance from bison (and other animals), would approach the beasts as if they were at a petting zoo. Bison gored three people in July. I guess some folks never learn to heed warnings.
Yellowstone was worth the visit and more. I recommend you experience it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
Until the next time . . .