Known to be not only the first national forest in the world, Yellowstone is also cloaked so many mysteries. In order to finish our one-month journey in the USA, we decided to spend the last few days exploring the hot spot. Let discover the hidden and beauty the national park through this Yellowstone travel blog (My trip to Yellowstone) with Living Nomads below.
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The road to old faithful underwater
Our plane landed at the tiny Bozeman airport (compared to other US airports) at midnight. The airport is such a warm wooden house displaying ominous giant trunks, huge wooden stairs, and countless stuffed animals. Our excitement did not last long when the car rental worker informed us that a storm was about to take place in the Yellowstone area and it would last 4-5 days. At that time it was also raining outside, accompanied by very cold winds, and we were advised to buy car-pulling insurance for towing our vehicle from the forest to the city in case of accidents in the weald.
One way or another, the trip started. We comprised of 8 adults and 3 children. We stayed at a small hotel adjacent to the airport on the first night. The next morning, we went to the supermarket to buy necessary items for the upcoming-forest-edge-house and made our way. For a couple of driving hours, the first spectacular thing popping up was the lush grasslands of Montana, then the withered pine forests after the storm, and ground snow near and far resulting from last night’s snow rain. Then we also reached our lodging just 15 minutes drive from Yellowstone’s west gate. It will be extremely difficult to traverse the park if you can not drive, which means that you will have to opt for the pre-set tour and fail to explore places you want to go with fixed itineraries.
We arrived in mid-June, but the weather is only about 10 degrees Celsius, just like winter in Hanoi, Vietnam. Moreover, it was the temperature in the forest so we understood that we will not be able to explore the site thoroughly in our short visit. First thing first, like all other visitors, we headed straight to Yellowstone’s most famous underground well, Old Faithful with great eagerness. However, we have not been able to move consistently as expected but “got distracted” quite a lot. Because along the way there, with all our insatiable curiosity as we set foot in the large park with the wide-open eyes, we pulled over a total of about seven times.
The first was because the two distant deer gazing in the reeds. Through our very naked eyes, we could only see the huge pairs of antlers. The second time was a truly miraculous moment when the other bank there was a herd of 20 enormous bisons. Not only small children, adults also have to force ourselves to shut our mouths up or else the incredible tranquil scenery was destroyed in no time. The list went on with a few bushes or a flock of pelicans flying at the horizon, we pulled in on the side of the road, pointed, admired them, commented, then continued our journey.
Discovery of Yellowstone terrain
It is impossible to tell the exact number of hot springs on our way through, but we were so amazed by the most famous one – Old Faithful. Anyone who enters the park has to wait for the magic moment when the underground water is sprayed up, reaching the height of more than 100m at times. We and about a hundred others waited for almost an hour and then water began to spray. All fished out their phones and cameras to try to capture the precious moment. The kids also looked at the scintillating high-powered water columns spreading fragrant sulfur.
In fact, half of the world’s hot springs are located in the area of Yellowstone. With the colossal amount of continuously flowing sandstone, this place is still considered a zone of the active volcanos, meaning that there is a certain degree of danger when visiting this recreation area. However, ignoring all the good-for-nothing worries, we strolled hot springs here and there over a surface area of more than 10km, each spring has different colors and myriad shapes. At the end of the road was Morning Glory, displaying hundreds of brilliant colors which attracted the attention of everyone to look deep down inside. And in the rain and cold wind, we, especially the children (6 to 8 years old) walked the whole distance of nearly 20km and enjoyed the stunning things this place offered.
If Old Faithful is right in the middle of the park, a place that is easily accessible from all directions, the Mammoth Hot Springs is on the north side of the park to which we have to drive for nearly three hours. This journey was really an unforgettable experience for the whole team. The terrain here is different from the West and the South where we have been to the preceeding days. After the prairie and vast marshes were steep and barren dry rocky mountains, and a great canyon. A large area had been heavily affected by the storm last week. It was also the last storm of the season carrying snow and heavy rain as part of a heavily damaged road.
The convoy had to stop to give way to bulldozers and trucks carrying countless fallen pine trees stemed from the fierce force majure. At the same time, it kept raining all day, even until we came back. When it was just slight drizzling and wind blew rolls of clouds to expose the mighty sun, the space suddenly brightens to compensate the visitants after gloomy day. The Mammoth Hot Springs are a series of streams running underground in the mountains and spurting up with a myriad of minerals destroying everything on the surface. Over the millennia, there are areas in the Mammoth Hot Springs System that have become so desolate that only the rocks are covered with white foam and large dead pine trees . However, due to the continuous operation of underground streams, the Mammoth Hot Springs have never ceased to amaze visitors with breathtaking views from the white and orange stone terraces. Despite the difficult driving time, we did not regret coming there to witness the wonders that nature has been invariably created for thousands of years.
Admire pristine beauty of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The park is large, so driving from one point to another one may take several hours. We spent the last day of our trip staying inside the Grand Canyon forest (absolutely different from the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona). The great canyon with a width of more than 1,000m and 300m depth is almost completely split the eastern and northern banks of the park. The great waterfall is made up from many underground aquifers creating the extraordinary landscape, unlike the cascades from other freshwater streams we had known before. Long spills along the area are the openings of hot springs.
Over the course of thousands of years, these streams of liquid have changed the chemical components of rocks, turning them into yellow, red, white, and pink. We could not climb down the breathtaking Uncle Tom’s trail to get close to the falls because of the small children’s presence. As a result, we decided to go down the path south of the Grand Canyon, down the 30 degree angle with more than 20 turns for a distance of about 2km to the Artist Point. At there, we can observe the paranoma of the majestic Grand Canyon and colors of rock offered by mother nature.
Located on an area of nearly 9,000 square miles in three states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in Central America, Yellowstone has been dubbed “the must-visit place before you die.” America is known for its numerous national parks with majestic natural beauty, but only Yellowstone preserves wilderness up to over 90% of its incredible size.
Therefore, when the feeling of being overwhelmed by a vast space passes, we found ourself really immersed in the hands of mother nature, felt the charming changes in each moment of the day on every path we left our footprints. The best thing was that we could teach the children how to love and cherish the wonderful things that nature displays, as well as to understand how tiny human beings are in comparison with the vast universe. Do not ruin nature, even if it’s seemingly small like throwing a bunch of rubbish by the road.
- Best time to visit Yellowstone: The peak season in Yellowstone is July and August. However, the best time to visit this venue is from June to June (early summer) or October to November (late autumn).
- How to get to Yellowstone: There are many ways to get to Yellowstone and the most common one is by air. There are daily flights from all directions to Bozeman Airport (Montana), followed by a two-hour drive to the park’s western terminal. Alternatively, take the train / plane to Salt Lake City (Utah) and then take a long bus or drive (about 500km) to the south gate of the park. It is also possible to fly to Jackson Airport (Wyoming State) and from there drive to the south gate of Yellowstone.
- Many people choose to rent an RV (a car attached to a fully-equipped small room with a bed, a kitchen and a toilet) to save rent. If you travel in large groups, you can choose to rent the whole house on popular rental sites such as Expedia, VRBO, Orbitz, Booking.
- Sleeping in the forest is not prohibited, but first you need to be well equipped to deal with any situation that may occur. For example: black bears, wild bisons, etc.
Are you looking for more top things to do in Yellowstone National Park: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out at here.