One word for Yellowstone: Wow!
I don’t know what I expected, but Yellowstone clearly exceeded it. Within moments, I was being stared down by a bighorn sheep.This stuffed bighorn, as well as a bear, a moose and a fox were all in the Visitors’ Center, ready to have their photos taken – I think the idea is that if you want a selfie with a wild animal, get it here, safely.
From a distance these steps really looked like blocks of ice; they’re actually formed from calcium carbonate deposits left behind by the mineral-rich hot water that flows over them daily. They were absolutely captivating!
We hiked back to the jeep and drove farther into the park. The first thing that really struck me was that it was far less congested with traffic than I’d anticipated. I guess I was expecting bumper to bumper traffic, with everybody running across the road to snap a selfie with a bear. It was so wonderful to find it largely “ours” for the day in all its wide-open, unsullied beauty.
Coming from the North entrance, we hit an area of plains first kept our eyes open in search of bears, bison, moose and elk.
And then we entered into a whole different realm – a realm filled with other-worldly milky, jade green pools…
Wrong. There were warning signs everywhere to stay on the path. Some of this water is acidic enough to eat through boots, and hot enough to kill. The salty looking earth around the pools is actually a fragile crust, and more than a few have fallen into the waters, paying a steep price for their curiosity. As of 1995, there were at least 19 people who had died falling into the thermal pools (more about that gruesome reality here).
So, we stuck to the path, with geysers gurgling and steaming nearly everywhere we looked.
But even in this harsh environment, life thrives.
The vibrant green and rust colors above are organisms called thermophiles. They live in water that ranges between 106 and over 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
And as a perfect (if a bit ironic) ending, when leaving the park we were in the bumper to bumper parade led out by…this guy.
And snapping photos all the way!