Hello everyone! I'm back from the land of no internet access, bison and geysers. I had a BLAST in Yellowstone National Park. We had amazing weather (only one thunderstorm for an hour or so one evening), and managed to see so much more than I expected. If you're thinking about making the trek, I highly recommend it and have a few tips for first time Yellowstone-goers.
What to See
Yellowstone is FULL of amazing sights and it's hard to narrow down what you want to go to. I've narrowed the list down to some of my favorite sites.
1. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: Seriously, go here, it's amazing. There are two waterfalls, the upper and the lower (creative, huh?) The lower waterfall flows into the main canyon and is 300ft high. Scary enough? There's also a trail down the side of the cliff to stand at the top of the waterfall to see the perpetual rainbow it creates. That trail is a couple hundred feet down as well. Artists Point also has an amazing view of the lower falls.
2. Grand Prismatic Spring: This is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone. Ever seen aerial view pictures of a rainbow lake? It's probably this one.
3. Old Faithful: Enough said.
4. The mountains in the northern part of the park make for a thrilling drive. The scenery is amazing.
5. Yellowstone Lake: This monster of a lake is gorgeous and has lots of pullouts with picnic areas to enjoy the view.
Tips for Your Trip
1. Aim for off-season: From the amount of people, just there for Memorial Day weekend, I can't imagine what the summer is like. The last two weeks of May is a great time to go and beat the crowds of summer. It gets cooler at night, but the alpine sun is so hot you probably don't have to worry about daytime temperatures.
2. Sunscreen: Speaking of hot sun, slather on that sunscreen like your life depends on it because you can get burnt like a crisp in no time, especially in the higher elevation areas like the grand canyon or alpine drives.
3. Make the most of your day: If you want to see a lot, plan to be out and about all day. The way we saw so many sights was being gone from our campsite from after breakfast until dinner (sometimes even later). There are tons of picnic areas, so eating a picnic lunch on your way from one place to the next is easy and saves time.
4. Panoramas: If your camera has a panorama function, learn how to use it. Taking everything into one picture is incredibly useful, especially in places where the scenery is so huge, it's impossible to get into one picture.
5. Don't be that guy (or gal): Park rules state that you need to be at least 25 yards from any herbivore animal and 100 yards away from a carnivore animal. You aren't in a zoo so please don't act like it. Animals in the park, including herbivores like bison and elk, are dangerous. We observed people standing less than 100 yards from a wild grizzly bear just because they wanted "a closer look". There are also many areas in the park that are geothermic and have active steam vents, geysers and hot springs. Most of these areas have raised platform walks and signs indicate not to leave these walkways. I know it seems silly to be talking about this, but we saw several people leave these trails for pictures. The ground in these areas is extremely unstable and walking on these areas is like walking on a mine-field where a wrong footstep could find you breaking into a steam vent, or hot water just beneath the surface.
And there you have it! My top 5 sights and top 5 tips for a Yellowstone Camping trip. I'll have a post up soon about all the lovely alpine flowers I saw on the trip!