Yellowstone – the World’s First National Park!
In case you didn’t know, there is an amazing benefit to being 62+; you can apply for a lifetime Senior America the Beautiful Pass (formerly a Golden Age pass) that gets you into all of the National Parks free of charge! Until August 28, 2017, this pass will only cost you $10, afterward, it increases to $80, so apply soon! It’s a sweet deal…
We entered Yellowstone from the south entrance on our way up to the Red Rock RV Park by Henry’s Lake, which was our base for exploring the park. There are closer RV parks, including camping areas within Yellowstone, but this one is quiet and was recommended by friends. If you’ve got the time, get a boat out on adjacent Henry’s Lake, which is one of the West’s premier fishing spots. It was peppered with fishing boats constantly.
The Firehole River, which runs along the lower section of the Grand Loop figure 8-shaped road through Yellowstone Park, is a sight to behold! It rages, crashes over massive boulders, then meanders through alpine meadows where it attracts a plethora of fly fishermen. It made me want to grab the bug spray & hip-waders! The meadows here are spectacular, carpeted with wildflowers, lush grass, with snow-capped peaks in the background. The only thing missing, actually, was Julie Andrews running through them, arms outstretched, singing at the top of her lungs. My mind’s eye placed her there though…
We saw plenty of wildlife; elk, boatloads of bison, deer, bald eagles, momma bear and cub, and a moose who seemed quite curious about all of us gawkers. The warning pamphlets you receive when you enter the park remind you not to mess with the bison (since they outweigh us by 2,000 lbs and can sprint 3 times as fast as we can.) That didn’t stop some tourists from getting out of their cars to get that perfect close-up. You really have to be on your guard as you drive through the park due to the unexpected wildlife sightings and the sudden stops they create. There just simply aren’t enough turnouts on that 2-lane loop road, so I have become adept at taking pics from our Jeep.
The north entrance, by Mammoth Hot Springs, is the site of Fort Yellowstone, where the army took care of the park from 1886 (a few years after its designation in 1872) until 1918 (the Park Service was created in 1916.) The buildings and museum are a step back in time. It is well worth the drive to this area of the park. To be honest, everything is worth the drive in this stunning park. Just stay on the designated paths, as hot springs need to be viewed from a safe distance.
We spent a nice, long day in Yellowstone, even taking in Old Faithful, which was predictably spectacular. The international visitors by it were entertaining, especially some Brits who marveled that we are all mispronouncing geyser since it’s actually spelled like “geezers.” Silly Americans!
The remnants of the ’88 fires still stand as grim reminders of those horrifying images played out in the news. However, the survival of the lodge pole pine forest depends on natural fires. Without them, the dense stands of trees would block out the sunlight needed for the next generation of trees to thrive. The fires also rid the forest of diseases, and pests that can ravage them, and of course, we all just love the ingenious way the fires melt the sticky resin in the pine cones to release the seeds to get those new trees started. A brilliant gal, that Mother Nature!
Yours from the road,
Cathy & William
About Yours From The Road
Yours From The Road documents the 110,000 mile motor home journey of staff writer Cathy Burford and her husband Bill. Come along as their motor home, affectionately referred to as the “Queen Mary,” casts off her lines and pushes away from the dock to explore the embarrassing wealth of natural beauty, amazing regional cuisine, and rich history of the land we all call home.