Road Trip USA 2022
The Yellowstone National Park
After everyone who has been there raved about Yellowstone, it's finally here for us too. When I consider that this is now my 10th trip to the USA, it is more than overdue. But you also have to admit that the park is a long way from the “other” places that you typically visit in the USA.
As already mentioned, good friends are currently traveling in the USA and today we are happy to meet in Yellowstone. So we set off shortly after 8:30 so that we can meet at Canyon Village at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, that doesn't really work, as we pass the huge Yellowstone Lake on the way there, stop and admire the sheer size.
Of course I ask my dad if he wants to see what the water temperature is. He then wants to check it out promptly and boom, the next wave fills his shoes with water :-D
We had our first encounter with a bison a few minutes later. Directly in front of us he crosses the street comfortably, leaving no doubt that he is the boss. Shortly afterwards we come across a whole herd right on the side of the road. This also leads to a bit of a traffic jam because of course everyone gets out to take photos. Overall, the animals seem very relaxed and are probably used to the many visitors. Nevertheless, when you look at the full-grown bulls, it becomes clear that in an emergency you don't want to stand in their way because of their sheer mass. So please keep your distance.
Anyway, we reach Canyon Village an hour later than planned and our friends meet me in the parking lot. Moments like this make the trip even more special and stay in your memory.
After a short breakfast snack, we go together to the waterfalls of the Yellowstone Rivers, which are only a few minutes away. The weather doesn't really know what it wants yet and when we arrived at the Lower Falls it suddenly became very windy and thick rain clouds appeared. We briefly enjoy the view over the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone and then quickly walk back to the cars. From across the street we can hear how trees are breaking down, which doesn't make the situation any more pleasant. Shortly before we reach the cars it starts to rain heavily and we get wet.
So we briefly check the weather situation and decide to drive towards Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is said to have the greatest chance of seeing the wide variety of animals that live in Yellowstone (bison, elk, wolves and bears). Unfortunately, the Lamar Valley has been closed for several weeks due to flooding and we can only drive a few miles in. We stop every now and then and spot a few deer-like animals along with other bison.
Tip: If possible, take binoculars with you, as the animals are often very far away in the meadows. We had a 10-22x with us, which I recommend as a minimum.
We now continue to Mammoth Hot Springs with its sinter terraces. Before we look at these, it's time for a midday snack. Since we are now traveling with a family with two children, there is always something to snack on ;-) Ideally, there are a few benches and tables in Mammoth Hot Springs that are ideal for a picnic. We enjoy the time, run around with the kids and all in the finest sunshine.
Now that we've all strengthened up a bit, we head over to the sinter terraces. These are limestone terraces, which are created by rising hot water (up to 160°F/70°C), which is very rich in minerals and lime. It is the same principle of origin as Pamukkale in Turkey. You can walk over and through the terraces on wooden walkways and explore the bizarre shapes. You can always enjoy the smell of sulfur that arises when the springs emerge.
The day is slowly coming to an end. We still have about 50 mi (80 km) to go to our hotel in West Yellowstone. Of course, we are always lookout for other animals and a few miles before the western park exit, traffic suddenly starts to build up. This always means that animals can be seen nearby. Luckily we stop right at a free parking bay and are lucky enough to spot a bear on the other side of the river. He is not at all bothered by the many observers and is energetically eating all the fruits of a large bush. At the end he uses the mass of his whole body to bend the entire bush.
Shortly afterwards, park rangers arrive and loudly instruct everyone to get back to the cars and continue driving. On the one hand, despite the river between us and the bear, the situation is not entirely safe. You have to realize that this is not a zoo, but wilderness, and on the other hand, the traffic on the road has come to a complete stop.
A little later we reach our hotel in West Yellowstone and have theoretically reached the next state, “Montana”.
We then all go out to eat something together and later we grill a few marshmallows over an open flame at the hotel and just chat a bit.
Unfortunately we part ways again the next morning, but we will meet again on this trip.
Today we look at the geysers and hot springs. Of course we start with the Old Faithful. This regularly spews out thousands of liters of hot water (every 60-120 minutes). The resulting fountain is on average around 130 ft (40 m) high and is accompanied by a lot of hot water vapor. In our case the whole spectacle lasted a little more than 4 minutes.
Musik: Northern Lights von FRAMETRAXX Gemafreie Musik
Of course, there is also a large visitor center directly at Old Faithful, where you can find out in a playful way how these geysers are formed and how things bubble under Yellowstone.
After the show, we set off on a tour that leads past various small geysers and basins. Despite the sunshine, it's quite cool and I'm glad I wore long pants.
The basins in particular are very colorful, which is caused by the bacteria living in them. Although it all looks very inviting, several signs warn against leaving the wooden walkways. Because the water is extremely hot and sometimes extremely acidic. So there is absolute danger to life. Interestingly, you can always find a few hoof prints on the ground. The bison obviously know where to step ^^
Overall, we spent almost two and a half hours and about 3.8 mi (6 km) on the circular route.
We first have a small snack at the car. Beef jerky, string cheese and Nutri bars - everything your heart desires. Then we head to the West Thumb. On this shore of Yellowstone Lake, there are a few basins right on the water. Unfortunately the entire area was closed by rangers. A pity!
On the way there, something else interesting happens. We cross the North American Continental Divide. To make it simple, from here all rivers flow on one side towards the west and thus into the Pacific. And on the other side, all rivers towards the east and thus into the Atlantic. In this case we are at 8262 ft (2518 m).
So we head back towards West Yellowstone and reach the Grand Prismatic Spring around 4 p.m. This is probably the largest thermal pool in Yellowstone and also impresses with its wide variety of colors. However, I have to say that it would probably be more spectacular seen from the air. I wonder why there isn't an observation tower that would allow an elevated view. The Americans are always so imaginative.
So, we've seen enough warm springs for today and head to our hotel. And you may not believe it, but in the same place as yesterday, we can see a bear again. This time there is a little more action. Because at first the bear is on the other side of the river, but then he crosses the river and is suddenly there, where all the observers are. And suddenly he sprints across the adjacent meadow and disappears into the forest. Now we realized: In an emergency, running away is not an option.
Since we arrive back at the hotel in the daylight, we take the opportunity to walk around the town a bit and then decide on The Buffalo Bar. However, we have to wait a good 30 minutes and after the sun has set, it gets very cold. We survive it and get delicious burgers and beer in such a beautifully typical American restaurant. We then complete the way back at a goose step so as not to freeze to death.