Sunday, November 01, 2015

My Favorite National Park

I have visited a lot of our National Parks. They are all special places and are all worth seeing and enjoying. Some I have visited several times and will never get tired of--for even as you visit and revisit them, there is almost always some new spot to explore. For instance, I have visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so many times that I long ago lost count. And I'll continue to go there because it is vast and there are still parts of it that I have yet to see.

But my favorite National Park is one that I have only visited once. Yes, I spent ten days there, but even so it still resonates with me. Hardly a day passes when I don't think about it. It is a vast Park, dwarfing even my beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I could go there for decades and still never see but a fraction of it. It is packed with the final vast landscapes of megafauna here in the lower 48 states, and is home to mountains, rivers, plains, canyons, waterfalls, grasslands, forests, geysers, volcanic features, and sights to stun even the most jaded of Americans. Yeah, I'm talking about Yellowstone National Park.

Strangely, I often encounter people who had been to the Park and mention casually that they didn't care for it. My first impulse is to wonder what's wrong with them, or if they saw the same Park that I did. And I slowly realize that it's the latter. In effect, they did not see the same Park that I experienced in 2010.

Because most people see Yellowstone from a car. They sit in their cars and they drive from Point A to Point B and rarely get out of that vehicle. And the places when they do get out, they use to visit a very crowded spot packed with other people and lots of traffic. So I can see how they might not be impressed by Yellowstone.

But that's not the way I saw it, and that's not the way anyone who is able-bodied should see Yellowstone. You have to get out of your cars and wander around. You don't even have to do as I did and climb to the tops of high peaks or wander into the back country. There are countless trails where one can journey away from the roads and into areas where people are left far behind and the landscape and the creatures that live within it open up to you.

I look forward to the day when I can revisit Yellowstone. I want to go back someday, and I will try.

Get out of your cars. Go for a walk.

There were big critters everywhere!

Landscapes to make you feel small.

Big ol' mountains in Grizzly bear country!

Just before I climbed this mountain I saw and photographed a Grizzly bear wandering around on the landscape. (See my bear spray on my belt.)

We hiked down into a canyon where this was just another waterfall.

And views like this one were just a short stroll from a parking lot. Just hop out on the log jam to get a better view of a great waterfall!

Walk along a river. Be careful for thermal features.

We hiked a mile to this warm spring in a river to soak in the water.

Vast areas with giant mammals. The last of the Pleistocene landscapes!

I shot this from the summit of Avalanche Peak.

No comments: