Oh, the Yellowstone, oh the buffalo free.
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
It is 6:30 in the morning, I'm still suffering from jetlag, so the early start is a bir of a shock to the system. The only advantage to the early start is that I sleep in the bus. Commentary is in Chinese and the English component is very hit-and-miss.
We are surrounded by mountains as we make the early morning escape from Pocatello. Although it's still warm in Pocatello, it is meant to be much cooler in Yellowstone.
The last time I was in Yellowstone National Park was in 2007 and I had been travelling with mum. There had been a huge fire in the area, and the blackened trees were eerie as we drove through light snow. We saw Old Faithful before driving out of the park to Cody. This time, however, we are spending the entire day and part of tomorrow inside the park.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States of America, and possibly had been the first in the world. It covers a huge area, almost 9,000 square kilometres, and includes lakes, rivers, canyons, and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high elevation lakes in the United States. The Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in the world, and it is the volcanic activity that makes this National Park so very unique.
Almost as soon as we enter the National Park, we see Sitka deer and bison. As much as I expect to see other wildlife, I see nothing as I think most of it is spending its summer in out-of-the-way places. Our first stop is at the Paint Pots. We follow the boardwalk to view this geothermal active area. As well as colourful mud, which plops and bubbles, there are vents, which let off steam.
Next stop is the Grand Prismatic Lake. The hike, at 2215 metres (7370 feet) above sea level has both hurt my feet and my lungs. I meet the majority of the group coming down as I make the last few steps to the lookout. I hate to admit it, but the view is worth the agony of the climb. Being able to look down upon the lake gives a better perspective than the view scene by the throngs on the boardwalk at lake level.
We soon arrive at the most famous of all of the Yellowstone attractions; Old Faithful. We arrive in time for its regulars eruption. It doesn't fail to impress.
Sam, the tour guide, presents a photo of another thermal lake called Morning Glory. I decline the offer to hike four kilometres into the park to view it. My feet are sore already, and I'm not walking another step. I'm dehydrated after this morning's hike, so I'm perfectly happy to sit in the lodge and watch Old Faithful blow its top again.
Our sightseeing for today ends with a visit to Artist Point and Uncle Tom's Point from the top only, and they are both spectacular sights.
Now comes the weird part of the day. Part of the group has paid for all their meals in advance. They are on a fully-accompanied tour, and apparently take precedence over all others on the tour. So, instead of dropping us off at our lodge accommodation within Yellowstone National Park, we are taken outside of the National Park, which takes over one hour to drive. This enables the minority group to eat at a buffet and to be dropped at their accommodation, before returning the remaining group into the heart of Yellowstone to our lodge. After a ninety-minute drive, we arrive at the lodge 11:30pm. Sunrise, which happens over the lake is at 5:30 in the morning before meeting the remaining group at 8am tomorrow. This is a crazy itinerary. Our hotels, apart from the first one, have been excellent, and we've not even had a chance to really enjoy them.
TITLE QUOTE: John Denver 'Yellowstone (Coming Home)
ACCOMMODATION: Grant Village, Yellowstone National Park.