Tales of a travelling amateur – Yellowstone National Park – USA.

For someone who had never been out of the UK until I turned 18, I do not think I’ve done badly when it comes to travel. Now 22, I’ve been lucky enough to have been to Egypt, Italy, France, Germany, India, and the USA. As I write this, I am 38 days away from my 4th USA trip and I am beyond excited. I feel so lucky and grateful to have had the experiences I’ve had. Of course, it took a great deal of saving, sacrifices and shopping around to get the best deals to be able to do that.

I wanted to ensure that I incorporated posts about my travel experiences into my blog and so I am going to try and write a kind of series on places I’ve visited, as well as my top tips that I’ve learnt and the wonderful places that are on my bucket list.

One place that has a very special place in my heart in Yellowstone National Park, as it is the place where my fiance and I got engaged. It is therefore an obvious choice for the first chapter of my travel stories on my blog. I visited Yellowstone in September 2015 and May 2017. Both times the visits were the highlights of our USA road trips and absolutely phenomenal. The park is predominately set in the state of Wyoming, with small areas in Montana and Idaho.

Yellowstone is one of those places that should be high on any travel lover’s bucket list as it is an absolute marvel of nature. The USA’s, possibly the world’s, first official national park, Yellowstone was founded in 1872 and boasts an abundance of ecosystems.

The terrain of Yellowstone consists of mountains, forest, lakes and plains, therefore with varying levels of elevation. As a result, the weather can change extremely quickly in Yellowstone, with snow cover for much of the year.

Entering Yellowstone via the South Entrance in May 2017

Of course, Yellowstone hosts a wonderful amount of wildlife. I’ve seen a black bear, a wolf, a beaver, elk, numerous bison, and more, which I think is amazing.

A black bear, taken from the roadside near Yellowstone Canyon.

Bison grazing near the Yellowstone Plateau
A beaver, photo taken in woodland near to Old Faithful.

Having the opportunity to see so much wildlife roaming around is just wonderful. You are very likely to see wildlife in the park, especially bison. It’s absolutely surreal.

However, the key aspect for me is the geothermal features. Geysers, pools and lakes, fuelled and heated from the magma of the volcano. I cannot express how beautiful these are, so here are some of my photographs:

A very steamy Sunset Lake

Mystic Spring
Aerial photograph of Artists Paintpots
Grand Prismatic Spring
A dormant Black Pearl Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser

Yellowstone really is a place like no other. Here are my top tips for visiting:

1) Safety. You’ll be handed a leaflet at the entrance with information about the park, which includes information on how to enjoy the park safely. Obviously, you’re hardly going to want to get up close and personal with an enormous grizzly, but it is easy to forget that you are in the wild, and you’re in mother nature’s territory. Always follow the guidance given, do not approach any wildlife. Do not ever hike alone. Always pay attention to areas closed due to bear sightings. I always carry bear spray and read how to use it. I have never had to use it but I would never risk it. Attacks are rare, but they happen. Surprisingly, I was told by a guy in a saloon in Dubois, Wyoming the day before we went into the park that more people are killed by being gored by bison than attacked by bears. Don’t go near them, don’t taunt them, and stay a safe distance away. However, there happens to be another aspect of the park that is responsible for more injuries and deaths than animal attacks – the geothermal features. Always stay on the designated trails, and always an vigilant. At the risk of making this post sound like a leaflet, never underestimate the power of nature. What looks like the ground to you may be just a fragile crust which if you step on could break, and you will fall into a boiling sulfuric pool which will probably be the last thing you ever do.

2) Stay overnight in West Yellowstone. If you’re not camping, I’d recommend staying in West Yellowstone overnight, with is in Montana and just outside the east entrance to the park. It’s a wonderful little town, and looks like it’s just right out of a wild west movie. There are plenty of gift shops and gorgeous restaurants to unwind and buy souvenirs while you’re in Yellowstone. I’ve always found it to be cheaper than staying outside any of the other entrances.

3) Back up your photographs! Every photo on this post is from my May 2017 trip, not my September 2015 trip. That’s because when I went to upload my photos, the SD card in my camera got corrupted. It’s absolutely gutting to go to to somewhere so beautiful and lose your photos. As much as they’ll never beat your physical memories, and sometimes it’s nice to take everything in rather than having your camera or phone out all the time, photographs are so sentimental.

4) Drive carefully. This goes without saying, but unfortunately it’s common to see people not doing this. The speed limits are low for a reason. There is a very strong possibility that there will be wildlife in the road, and many of the roads are windy and difficult.

5) Enjoy! It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make every second count. If you’re only there for say two days, do the north and south loop. This is where the majority of the scenery and geothermal features are, so this is your best bet to see as much as you can. If you have a few more days, then head to the north and south routes – the south route leads on to Grand Teton National Park which is absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for reading!

Michelle x

P.S – all thoughts and photographs are my own.

P.P.S – Follow my Social Media

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Twitter: @garnetsglitter

Yellowstone Lake

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