Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Yellowstone National Park is a phenomenal park! I expected it to be really nice, but I did not expect to be in such awe of how beautiful it is. I got chills driving in; almost a little teary and those weren’t left over “scared for my life” tears!

Yellowstone is an enormous park. We camped in Grant Village. All the main areas of Yellowstone have a lodge, a visitors center, big gift shops, restaurants, gas stations, and of course, campgrounds. Grant Village Campground is very nice, but rustic! No water or electric hook ups, but they have clean bathrooms. It was a good drive to the pay showers, and we never bothered with them. There is a big emphasis on keeping bears away from food. A fed bear is a dead bear is something you hear all the time in the park! Unfortunately, we never actually saw a bear while we were in Yellowstone. Lloyd found this hard to believe because when he visited the park as a kid, they saw bears everywhere. They even stuck hotdogs out the car window and fed the bears! Wonder what ever happened to those bears???

While we didn’t see any bears or wolves (but lots of other campers did), we did see lots of bison, prairie dogs, deer and antelope, a marmot, an otter, a pika, a moose (cool!!!), and an eagle! The wildlife is a real highlight of Yellowstone.

Each visitor center has an educational area and we spent a lot of time at the Canyon Visitors Center where the kids worked on the Jr. Scientist Badge. This was kind of like the Jr. Ranger Program, but for older kids. We learned a lot about the park geology, and that Yellowstone is really a giant volcano. We learned how the Yellowstone River formed the canyon and visited areas of the park that we would not have otherwise. It was a very worthwhile activity!

Another big highlight of the trip was the cowboy supper. We rode horses out to a delicious fire-cooked meal. We rode up hills and down, across streams, and through some gorgeous areas of the park! We saw lots of animals and had to ride around a herd of grazing bison. It was basically a trail ride but we did get to trot a bit and it was Nicholas’ first time on a horse. It was about an hour ride out and an hour ride back after dinner. We all loved the dinner! Steak (and veggie burgers), potato salad, beans, coleslaw, watermelon, cornbread, apple crisp, and really good strong cowboy coffee! We ate too much!

The weather in Yellowstone was perfect! We had bright sunny days and cool, no cold, nights. It rained for a little while on our last night, but not for long. After the rain we went outside and saw the most beautiful rainbow ever! It was really like looking at a new box of watercolors. The colors were just that bright!

The next morning we packed up and headed to Montana. All I can say is that these states just keep getting more and more spectacular!

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