Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park)


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Yellowstone should have made it easy to be liked. We should’ve have been in awe, mesmerized and unwilling to leave. Instead we left after mere 48 hours without the feeling to have missed out on anything. Without even visiting the southern part of the park, where Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic are. Basically where all the stuff is you see when you visit Yellowstone.

We approached Yellowstone from the north, mainly because there was a nice boondocking site and we wanted to check out Bozeman.

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Camping just outside of Yellowstone

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Bozeman was beautiful, with kids day at the local fire department, local food co-ops and a beautiful main street. Not overly crowded. Everything we like about cities.

We weren’t entirely sure how to handle Yellowstone. We would’ve loved to do another carcamping trip but our trailer was too far out to get in the park and to the most remote campground before it filled up (every day before 7). Plus that campground wasn’t even that remote. So instead we hitched up super early in the morning and snatched one of the last campsites in the northernmost part of the park. I wasn’t so sure about this, we couldn’t have been further away from the “main attractions”. Turns out that was the way to go.

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The first day was spent working and then some exploring in the afternoon. We didn’t want to drive too far, so we head into Lamar Valley, the less populated area of the park. We saw tons of Bisons and a beautiful landscape, plus the Buffalo Fire that burned relatively close to the area.

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After some wildlife watching and a quick stop at the Mammoth Hot Springs we went home. While exploring Lamar Valley was beautiful, the stop at Mammoth Hot Springs was weird. You expect to be amazed by that absolutely unique spectacle. Instead it felt like, I don’t know. It wasn’t the other tourists, though they were exhausting and the amount of trash or footprints in the closed areas was sad. It’s a weird feeling I cannot describe. Not quite disappointed, but less amazed than I expected. Maybe it is simply too unreal to grasp.

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The next day we wanted to head out super early, overslept and then headed back to Lamar Valley around 8. We thought we were too late for the wildlife watching, too late to outrun the masses. But we were able to enjoy a quiet breakfast (in the car) right next to a group of bison, and most of the people there didn’t even approach them!

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– Everything was hazy from the fires, which have only gotten worse since we left.

We decided to head further east through Lamar Valley, even though that meant a long detour to see anything else. But the area is beautiful and just when we decided to turn around we were treated to a Grizzly bear sighting! It was distant enough to feel safe but close enough to really see it. Amazing creature! Though I don’t think the fisherman knew what was going on.

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(I saw a freaking Grizzly, I’ll post as many pictures as I want.)

We waited around a little bit to see if it reappeared, watched the Ranger call off some tourists walking closer to the bear to have a better look and watched those tourists ignore him. It didn’t reappear but it was an amazing sighting. I didn’t think we would get lucky.

After that we headed back to the main part of the park, mainly to the Norris Geyser Basin with its Porcelain Basin and Steamboat Geyser. We saw the basin (holding the toddler close and firm) and the Geyser (said toddler thought it was scary). We applied some basic Junior Ranger knowledge (blue means water is hot and red means it’s cold. So we can go swimming in the boiling red spring!). It was beautiful, no question. But still, somehow it didn’t leave us in awe as the glaciers in Glacier NP or the Crescent Lake at Olympic NP. It felt a lot like Death Valley NP, a series of main attractions you are supposed to visit. Also, don’t underestimate how scary it is to stand on a very well alive volcanic matter. We probably did a little bit too much research before heading there, but man, it’s scary.

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I’m glad we visited Yellowstone, but right now I don’t feel like coming back (I’d rather drive back to Glacier), not even to see the southern part. And yes, the tourists here are that bad.