Yellowstone National Park, WY

This summer (2010) we were, unfortunately, unable to make it to Yellowstone, but we have done so the two summers prior, and fell in love with the park.  We started in Cody, WY and came into the park by the east entrance.  After passing the beautiful Yellowstone Lake, we ended up in a traffic jam caused by bison, who were just hanging out on the road.  We sat there for half an hour before they decided to clear off the road. (See photo at end of page.)

There are amazing numbers hot spots where there are smaller geysers or mud volcanoes or sulfur pits. There is Artist's Point, “painted” in amazing colors, with its thundering waterfall and the prismatic pools with their fantastic colors and designs.

Even in August, wildflowers are abundant, as is the wildlife.  One of the traffic jams we investigated was caused by an elk lying under some small trees, chewing his cud.  Most of us are in a hurry, even on vacation.  But it didn’t take long to learn that if you encounter a traffic jam there is usually a very good reason for it, and investigation can pay off well.

On our first visit we had to wait a long time for Old Faithful to erupt, but in the end the wait was worth it because the eruption was spectacular.  On our second visit to Old Faithful, she erupted on time, but the eruption was noticeably less than the first time we saw her.  As with all things, the quality of the eruptions varies, and occasionally Old Faithful doesn’t erupt at all.

When we have visited, the park has been teeming with wildflowers and wildlife of all sorts.  We have always seen buffalo at close range.  We’ve been able to watch ground squirrels at close range.  We saw lots of rainbows at the bottom of the waterfall when we walked down Uncle Tom’s Trail in the Artist Point area.  There are many varieties of wildflowers that brighten the landscape.  it is sad to see the areas where fires have raged, because they destroy the current beauty of the landscape.  However, without fire the vegetation in the park would never renew.  Many plants in the park, such as the lodgepole pine have seeds that require fire in order to germinate.  The truly sad sight is all the pines that have been decimated by the pine bark beetle.

On our second visit we left the park by the south entrance/exit, which took us past Lewis Falls, another beautiful area.

As we left the park by the north entrance on our first trip, we were greeted by a beautiful double rainbow, a fitting farewell to such an incredibly beautiful park.

Yellowstone is a place that we hope to be able to visit many times in the future.  It is a place we have fallen in love with, and it is truly a national treasure.


In August, 2013 we were able to return to Yellowstone.  The park is as beautiful as ever, although it is sad to see that the pine bark beetles that are destroying the lodgepole pines are still hard at work with their destruction.  The areas where fires have previously burned are looking good; there is lots of new growth of both wildflowers and pine trees.  On this visit we saw two consecutive eruptions of Old Faithful, which were very timely.  The first time she went off just inside the 10-minute window before the predicted time.  Both eruptions were gorgeous; the second one went on for a very long time.  We walked up the trail to the high viewing point for Old Faithful (Susan didn’t make it all the way up), and along the way encountered this Least Chipmunk, which did not seem to be too disturbed by our presence.  We did again have a close-up encounter with bison, but this time they did not block the road directly.

The only disappointment was that in the afternoon the parking lot for the prismatic springs was so crowded we decided not to stop there.  Instead, we opted to do the Firehole Lake drive, which isn’t long, but does have a number of great geyser features.  The lake is beautiful and has several small geysers that erupt constantly.  This drive was not crowded the way so many of the popular attractions were.  The crowds convinced us that we really need to find lodging in the park and spend several days exploring, so we can see new areas and so that we can beat the crowds to places like the prismatic springs.  It would be great to be able to hike some of the trails that we would otherwise not have time to do.

Another thing we will probably try on our next visit is to enter the park by the northeast entrance, after traversing the Beartooth Highway, which we are told is absolutely spectacular.  We had considered doing it this year, but opted out since the road is currently under construction.

There are additional photos, including Old Faithful, in the photo album.

Original Post August 22, 2010

© Susan L. Stone 2015