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Explore the Beauty of Yellowstone National Park
I wrote an article awhile back about the Five Worst National Parks so I felt it only fair that I discuss a National Park that will be my favorite until the day I die. Now, for those of you who have followed along lately, it is true that I have written about my love affair with Mt. Rainier, but that was about the mountain. Mt. Rainier National Park is nice but it doesn’t hold a candle to Yellowstone National Park..
What follows are some of the more amazing facts and figures regarding Yellowstone. They in no way, however, explain why I am smitten so seriously by this particular park. Allow me a moment or two to discuss the lust (that’s right, lust, not love)I feel for Yellowstone and then we’ll get to the list.
I had never seen Yellowstone until 1996 when my son and I visited there for the first time. Of course I had seen films on it and read about it and dreamed about it, but it had remained on my to-do list until I was forty-eight years old. Since then I have returned four more times and plan on going this year if my budget allows it. Since there is still so much of the United States I haven’t seen it would be fair to ask why have I gone to Yellowstone five times in the past sixteen years?
For me, Yellowstone is a state of mind, just as bliss and tranquility are states of mind. It is a look at this country as it once was with animals roaming free, rivers running wild and a sense of the unknown and never-before-experienced. The first time I sat in the bed of my pickup truck at dusk and watched the bison roam the Hayden Valley with eagles flying overhead and the wind rustling through the towering pines I knew I was hooked. The first time I drove along the Grand Loop Road and saw a fox sunning itself I knew I was hooked. The first time a moose jumped over the hood of my car and I saw mountain goats walk up a sheer cliff I knew I was hooked. The first time I saw my son, a skeptic if there ever was one, stand in awe at the majesty of nature, I knew I was hooked.
For all of its beauty, Yellowstone can be as savage as a grizzly defending its cubs. Forest fires are a yearly occurrence, as are tourists being trampled by bison, attacked by grizzlies and lost in the wilderness. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yellowstone is supposed to be wild; that was the reason why it was set aside and protected so many years ago, to remain wild and unspoiled so that generations can enjoy it and, as my son, stand in awe at its majestic nature.
Enough of my ramblings for now; let us turn our attention to some rather amazing facts and figures regarding Yellowstone National Park.
Another of our great National Parks
- My Love Affair With Mount Rainier
A love affair with the mountain that has lasted my lifetime.
THIS IS ONE BIG MUTHA’
Do you like your parks on the large end of the spectrum? How about 3,472 square miles, larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined? Forget about it if you only have one day to visit the Park; it simply can’t be done! You can drive through the Park in one day but to visit? Plan on a week and then you might start to get a sense of what Yellowstone is all about.
SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL
The Earth’s crust in the Yellowstone area is only about four or five miles thick as opposed to most areas that have at least thirty miles of crust. This is an earthquake zone of the highest order; on average there are 2,000 earthquakes per year in Yellowstone and each one felt is a reminder that you are standing in one of the largest active volcanoes in the world; and speaking of volcanoes……
IS THERE A REASON WHY MY FEET ARE SO HOT?
Yellowstone National Park has, as one of its features, the largest caldera in North America, measuring 30x45 miles in size. Let that fact sink in for a minute or so while I tell you that three times this baby has erupted and if it happens again it is quite possible that life on this planet as we know it now will cease to exist. There are over 10,000 thermal features in the Park (over half the world’s total) and over 300 geysers, all testaments to the fact that Earth’s super-heated magma is not that far below your feet.
GEYSERS DO NOT MAKE GOOD SWIMMIN’ HOLES
No matter how dirty you think you are and no matter how hot you may be on a summer day at Yellowstone, please refrain from swimming in the thermal features. Temperatures have been recorded that are over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and that, folks, is hot water. Amazingly there are bacteria that do swim in these waters but no matter who pretty they appear when you are looking at the thermal features do not give into temptation and join them.
- Yellowstone National Park.com - Information and Travel Planner for Yellowstone
Visitor information and planning for Yellowstone National Park. The first national park and a favorite destination to millions of visitors each year. Yellowstone has variety of wonders including geysers, wildlife and boundless scenery. Yellowstone, w
HELL AND DAMNATION
The first recorded meeting between white man and Yellowstone occurred when John Coulter, one of the original members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, left the group on the way back to St. Louis and headed into the Rocky Mountains on his own in search of furs and adventure. He stumbled upon the super-heated pools and geysers and told several future acquaintances of his discovery. Nobody believed him but they started referring to this area as “Colter’s Hell.” Later Jim Bridger, another famous fur trapper and guide, entered what is now Yellowstone National Park and said it resembled “hell and damnation.”
PARK IT BOYS AND TAKE A LOAD OFF YOUR FEET
Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park in the United States, coming into existence on March 1, 1872. Seems pretty cool until you also realize that Yellowstone was also the first World Park and now you have a whole new kettle of fish to boil. It was originally run by and taken care of by the U.S. Army, but in 1917 administration of the Park was transferred to the National Park Service.
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A REGULAR BOWEL MOVEMENT
Yes, I can only be talking about Old Faithful, the must-see site at Yellowstone for the over three million visitors that come each year. The name, of course, comes from the fact that Old Faithful is, well, pretty faithful in erupting every sixty-five minutes or so and has been doing this for as long as the Park has been opened. I’m guessing it was doing this before the Park was opened but there is no way to document that fact since I’m only sixty-three years of age.
- U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America
U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America
To Thine Own Self Be True
Yellowstone has its own ecosystem called, you guessed it, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining, nearly intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone. Chances are excellent that it will remain as such unless the politicians in Washington D.C. get bored fighting each other and want to pick on something that is defenseless….which could happen any day now.
I could go on and on but nothing I write can properly describe to you that which is Yellowstone. I guess the closest I can come to capturing what it means to me is to tell you that I have told my loved ones that when I die I want my ashes set free over Yellowstone. Just let the wind catch me and let me drift above the land that I feel so close to. I will soar with the eagles and look down upon the bison, grizzlies, elk and deer. Part of me will mingle with the Yellowstone River, flow over the waterfalls and continue to the sea and as the water cycle does its magic the whole process will be repeated again and again and I will become part of that beautiful Park forever.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)