A road trip in the United States of America would not be complete without a visit to the nations (and possibly the world’s) first and oldest National Park, Yellowstone founded in 1872 and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. More than 26 native American tribes have ties to the area (including Kiowa, Crow, Sioux, Salish, Shoshone & Bannock). They have lived in the region for at least 11, 000 years using the thermal waters for medicinal and religious purposes as well as hunting, gathering, collecting obsidian and engaging in trade. The first European fur traders arrived in the late 1700s followed by gold prospecting in the late 1800s. Surprisingly however, fur traders returning with tall tales of a bubbling boiling underworld were never given any credence and the first formal European exploration did not take place until the late 1860s-early 1870s.
Yellowstone is 8, 983 square kilometers of dramatic scenery, lakes, waterfalls, half the world’s geysers and hydrothermals and an abundance of wildlife & large mammals including; bison, elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolves, mousse, cougar and more. So it’s no surprise Yellowstone was near the top of our list of places to visit in our first 6 months on the road. When we started this journey last April, we really had one rule, stay ahead of the weather. We got out our road atlas, highlighted a bunch of places we wanted to visit and then set off with out much more planning than that. Most people think we’re crazy Ozzies when we tell them that, and perhaps they’re right, but so far it has turned out pretty well. It was a steep learning curve at first but we soon got the hang of it....
That is until we reached the Idaho, Wyoming and Montana borders where Yellowstone resides in the first week of October. In our naivety we honestly believed that Winter would not be coming for another month at least. We were so very wrong! Luckily for us, we made it just in the nick of time, enjoying the last week of full access to the park before they started closing roads for Winter. It was already snowing in the mountains when we arrived, and by the time we left, it was snowing where we camped as well. It was cold and windy but far from miserable! Had we more time up our sleeves and had the weather been more amicable, we would love to have visited Grand Teton National Park as well, but unfortunately it was not to be this time around. We’re quickly learning that even with our luxurious timescale, there is no way you can possibly do everything here. The USA is just so huge and so diverse, it’s impossible to cover it all.
With that said, you really need at least 3 days to visit Yellowstone National Park. We didn’t manage to see it all but did enjoy plenty of hiking and wildlife watching. Instead or boring you with my rendition of events, I’ll let the pictures do the talking, as really there are few words that can adequately describe the beauty of this timeless place in all it’s enormous glory.
Day 1 - The Lamar Valley
Day 2 - The Mammoth Hot Springs
Day 3 - Upper and Lower Geiser Basin
Where we stayed:
Henrys Lake State Park, less than 16 miles from the West Entrance of the Park and beautiful in its own right.
GnTonefortheroad travel tips:
Get the ice-cream from the gift shop. It’s delicious and at the end of season they’re literally giving it away! So Gooooood.
Invest in bear spray if you plan on hiking or camping in or around the area, better safe than sorry! It’s cheaper to buy it from a sporting goods store than in the park stores. It was not possible to hire it at the time we visited as many facilities were closed for the season. Bears are on the move at this time of year, moving to their Winter dens and eating as much as they can so be prepared.
So stay tuned as we #keepitreal #keepexploring #beyond40. For all our up to the minute adventures follow us on facebook, instagram or twitter and now youtube @gntonefortheroad and feel free to like, share, comment or contact me of more info.