Yellowstone has always been one of those mythical places since I used to watch Yogi Bear pinch picnic baskets as a youngster.
When we decided to road trip our way to Yellowstone I was beyond excited, which often is not a good sign as when I have high expectations they are usually not met (do not see Bob Dylan in concert).
We were road tripping east to west so before we arrived at Yellowstone we first made our way up and over the Bighorn Mountains. These mountains were so huge that we felt dizzy as we looked up at them.
Andy walking through the Bighorn Mountains
For our first two nights we stayed at the Pahaska Tepee Resort just two miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone. You know you’re surrounded by wilderness when there are bison grazing on the lawn outside your room.
We were up early and were eager to head into Yellowstone. As we were travelling mid May there was still snow as we drove over Sylvan Pass. We wound our way down towards the beautiful Yellowstone Lake, and the abundance of life that comes with the turn of spring was amazing to see.
We followed the lake’s edge and then along the banks of the Yellowstone River to the upper and lower falls of the Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone. With the winter snow melting, the body of water that was propelled off the cliffs was astonishing, and the sound was a commanding voice of nature.
What makes Yellowstone so unique is that it is a volcano and that there is a huge reservoir of magma underneath it. Researchers say that the last time the volcano erupted was some 640,000 years ago, so I think we’re all good for now.
Yellowstone National Park has many hydrothermal features and approximately half of the world’s geysers - a hot spring in which water intermittently boils, sending a tall column of water and steam into the air.
The most famous is Old Faithful, which erupts every 68 to 94 minutes and can last for over five minutes.
There are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features in Yellowstone. Our four days in the park didn’t allow us to see them all, but some of our favourites were;
The limestone formations at Mammoth Hot Springs,
And the colours of Doublet Pool.
As much as I found the hydrothermal features interesting, for me, Yellowstone was all about the beautiful scenery that the landscape delivered beyond every corner and seeing animals in their natural habitats.
Thanks to my wife’s eagle eye, we were beyond lucky with all the animals we saw.
Bison can be found throughout most of the park and as we were there during spring, many of the cows had had their calf.
We saw bison many times, but each time was exciting, whether they were crossing a river, running along the road, or simply grazing on the cool green grass.
The Yellow-Bellied Marmot is a skittish little character so we were fortunate to see them.
We were surprisingly close to an Elk that was standing between a number of geysers down towards West Thumb.
Just as we were about to depart the park one evening we spotted a Moose grazing in the hills.
With my love of dogs, seeing a lone Grey Wolf in the meadows was something special.
But our most surreal moment was when we witnessed a Black Bear mother and her two cubs playing and learning how to climb a tree.
If you can make it to the middle of America I would highly recommend it. Our four days in Yellowstone National Park was a family road trip I don’t think anyone will forget and it was full of stories we will be telling each other for years to come.
Things to know
- You can stay just outside the park and save quite a bit on accommodation. We stayed at Pahaska Tepee Resort near the east entrances and at the Stage Coach Inn in West Yellowstone, Montana
- Mid to late May is a perfect time to visit the park as 90% of things are open but the crowds are not there.
- There are a number of petrol stations inside Yellowstone and they are not that much more expensive.
- Don’t rush your way around Yellowstone. Go slow and pull over to let people past. When you go slow you can find more animals in the woods.
- Purchase a National Park annual pass at the gate for $80. If you have made it to Yellowstone you are nuts not to visit the Grand Tetons Range just south of Yellowstone. If you go to one other national park on your trip you will save money.
Mike Campbell and his wife Inga, along with their daughter Andy have packed, donated or sold everything they own in Australia and hit the road for a year, attempting to housesit their way through North America. You can connect with them and read about their adventures at www.liveimmediately.com
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.