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Yellowstone National Park
Photo of Yellowstone National Park courtesy NPS

We visited Yellowstone in late July 2009 and had a great time. The crowds and traffic were not nearly as bad as I would have expected, despite record, or near record visitors. We came to see wildlife and geothermal features and were not disappointed. We enter through the East entrance and within 15 minutes of entering we saw a grizzly bear of the side of the road. It was a pretty big bear, definitely not a cub. After we left the bear, less than a quarter of a mile later we rounded a bend in the road by Yellowstone Lake and a mountain lion crossed the road in front of us. If you've seen the one at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, this one was as big or bigger. According to the ranger at the Old Faithful ranger center there are only 14-17 mountain lions in all of Yellowstone. We got to fill out a rare animal sighting report. Just after that we saw our first of hundreds of bison. During the few days we were there we saw elk, moose, bison, black bears, more grizzly bears, pronghorn antelope, a wolf, coyote, and more.

We camped at Norris campground, right across the road from the river and meadow. Norris is a beautiful and quite campground, centrally located for exploring Yellowstone. We spent one day driving the Southern loop and one day doing the Northern loop and Lamar Valley. Be sure to visit all sections of Yellowstone as the different areas of the park are surprisingly different. Also, when you go to Old Faithful be sure to visit the inn, the lobby is amazing.

If you want to see Yellowstone Falls there is a North rim drive and a South rim drive. On the south side you get a great view of the falls, but you need to walk down a LOT od stairs to get to the viewing platform. On the north side there is a switchback trail that takes you down to the rivers edge and a viewing platform that literally is right at the edge where the river falls over the edge. My son said that it was one of the coolest things ever. After you walk back up, drive down the road a bit farther to the overlook for the classic falls view.

It is easy to spot the people that have just arrived at Yellowstone as they stop to look at the bison. After your first day you've seen and photographed so many your like, oh, another bison.

From the NPS
Long before any recorded human history in Yellowstone, a massive volcanic eruption spewed an immense volume of ash that covered all of the western U.S., much of the Midwest, northern Mexico and some areas of the eastern Pacific. The eruption dwarfed that of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and left a caldera 30 miles wide by 45 miles long.

That climactic event occurred about 640,000 years ago, and was one of many processes that shaped Yellowstone National Park--a region once rumored to be "the place where hell bubbles up." Geothermal wonders, such as Old Faithful, are evidence of one of the world's largest active volcanoes. These spectacular features bemused and befuddled the park's earliest visitors, and helped lead to the creation of the world's first national park.

Fur trappers' fantastic tales of cauldrons of bubbling mud and roaring geysers sending steaming plumes skyward made their way back east. Several expeditions were sent to investigate, opening the West to further exploration and exploitation. In 1871, Ferdinand Hayden led an expedition that included artist Thomas Moran and photographer William H. Jackson. They brought back images that helped convince Congress that the area known as Yellowstone needed to be protected and preserved.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law declaring that Yellowstone would forever be "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

Have you visited Yellowstone National Park?

  • Do you have a favorite campsite or one to avoid?
  • What is your favorite trail?
  • How is the food at the restaurant, any favorites?
  • Any fishing tips, bait, location or types of fish?
  • If you have stayed at a hotel at this park what do you like or dislike about it?
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Facilities available at Yellowstone National Park:

Yellowstone National Park website
Recreation Area Map
Park Email:

Phone numbers
Visitor Information 307-344-7381
Visitor Information for the Hearing Impaired (TDD) 307-344-2386

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168