After 4 weeks in Yellowstone National Park, I can honestly say we did the park justice. There is just so much to do and it is just so massive, it took Cristina and I that much time to truly get a feel for the place.
We hiked 150 miles on 30 different trails in every region of the park. We watched many of the park's geysers erupting, woke up for an incredible sunrise over Yellowstone Lake, saw so much wildlife (bison, elk, deer, multiple black bears, a couple moose, pronghorn, a bald eagle, rabbits, pika, marmots, lots of birds and more!), went on 2 backcountry trips, and that's just off the top of my head.
You can read more about our first three weeks in previous posts here, here and here. Our final stint in Yellowstone was marked by a fun but rainy backcountry trip to Grizzly and Trilobite Lakes, heading to one of the park's many border towns for Fourth of July fireworks, and watching a sunrise over Lake Yellowstone from the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
The hikes to Fairy Falls and to Heart Lake were also a lot of fun, as was going swimming at the Firehole Canyon swimming hole. You can watch more about the 15 mile Heart Lake hike on our first ever Hiker's Happy Hour post.
After all this time, I think I know why heading back to Yellowstone after more than 25 years seemed like such a pilgrimage for me. It's one of the last places in the continental U.S. where you can find expansive, pristine wilderness, and it's vastness allows for the wildlife populations that should accompany a real wilderness. Combine that with the uniqueness of its geothermal features, add all the hiking and you have a recipe for something truly special and appealing: Yellowstone National Park. Now its on to Glacier NP for two weeks, a pilgrimage of a different sort - time to see those glaciers before they're all gone!
Ryan and Cristina's travel blog, detailing our adventures in US National Parks and overseas in New Zealand and SE Asia.
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