Monday, March 29, 2010

Five best things: Yellowstone

To most people, Yellowstone is either a spot on the map, a National Geographic special, or a place they see during a two-day whirlwind tour. Too bad. We live less than two hours from the west entrance and I've been there dozens of times. Here are my five favorite things in Yellowstone.

5. It always amazes me when people are disappointed in Old Faithful after seeing it for the first time. Too many people expect the computer-driven fountains of Las Vegas. Old Faithful has been spouting on its own every 75 minutes or so since long before there was a Las Vegas. It's still worth a stop every time we go. More important, Old Faithful is part of the Upper Geyser Basin, home to dozens of geysers and thermal features. What you do is, go to the Old Faithful area, go to the visitor center or the Old Faithful Inn and look at the board that shows the predictions for when the major geysers in the area will erupt. Then spend a half-day in natural bliss. If you don't like this, then just go home and fire up the video games.

4. Grand Prismatic Spring. Kathleen took the top picture, recognizing before I did the way the steam from the hot spring created this amazing combination of color. A lot of tourists bypass Grand Prismatic on their way between the Fountain Paint Pots and Old Faithful. It's a big miss. The second picture was taken from several hundred feet above Grand Prismatic after a scramble up a mountainside that, at the time, hadn't fully recovered from the 1988 fires.

3. The rut. In autumn, the thoughts of certain large game in the park turn to romance, which means the elk bugle and the bison roll in the dirt and they both engage in silly tussling over who will get to mate with the ladies. The park is beautiful as the aspens turn golden, and the rut is sort of romantic. This shot shows two bull bison sparring near the Lower Geyser Basin during rut.

2. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On the eastern section of the park the Yellowstone River has carve a beautiful canyon into the yellow rock that give Yellowstone its name. The Lower Falls drop 308 feet (that's twice as high as Niagara). Again, this is a place that some one-time visitors miss and most don't spend enough time with. The Canyon area of Yellowstone is worth days and days.

1. Mammoth Hot Springs. I've not been around the world, but I've been to a lot of places, and nothing comes close to Mammoth Hot Springs. This photo is of Canary Spring, a small part of Mammoth, and by itself it's worth the trip to the far northwest corner of Yellowstone. If you go to Yellowstone and don't see Mammoth, you've wasted your trip.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! My sons worked for Xanterra last year in Yellowstone. They are going back again this season and I'm going with them. I'll be cleaning rooms, but it will be worth it to be surrounded by this beauty. I am blogging about my trip. Hope you can check it out.