Yearning for Yellowstone

Posted: August 14, 2013 in Animals, Family, Nature, Photos, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The alarm goes off at 4:15 am and I fumble in the dark to turn off the unfamiliar clock. I’m forced to turn on the light eventually but Bill will have to get up soon, too.  After getting dressed, I load the cooler with lunch fixings and snacks, grateful for the list I wrote the day before when I wasn’t sleepy.  Then it’s time to wake the rest of our group and when our older daughter and her boyfriend arrive, we load ourselves into the van (most of us wrapped in blankets) and we’re off on a one-day whirlwind trip to Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park and a unique place.

It will take us about 3 1/2 hours just to get to the park’s entrance, not because of simple distance but because that distance has many literal ups and downs and the first part of our trip is on an unimproved road.  For “unimproved road”, read “a road that you’re lucky to go 30 mph on.”  The washboard surface can slow you to about 5 mph and the effect of hydroplaning without the water.  Luckily, the road is relatively smooth this year and we can make good time.

We leave in the dark.


Dawn is the perfect time to see animals, or hit one, so we scan the area constantly and are eventually rewarded by the sight of moose having his breakfast not far from the road.  He’s not worried at all by our presence and on this surface, he could run faster than we could drive.


The sun finally deigns to peek over the horizon, changing the look of everything from dawn’s muted colors to daytime’s brighter shades.



We leave the dirt and gravel not far past Dead Swede Campground, (yes, there was a dead Swede once), and increase to highway speed.  Our first destination is Shell Canyon and the falls.


When we arrive, the restrooms are open (thankfully), but everything else is closed and we’re the only people shivering in the morning’s chill wind.  The falls are spectacular as always, even though I’m mortified to find that I still have a difficult time walking out on the wooden part of the viewing platform where you can see between the boards to the rocks far below.  I force myself to the railing to take pictures, then hurry back to terra-more-firma for additional shots.


Back into the van and we’re ready to tackle the rest of the canyon, then head into flatter, barer ranch land.  We still have a long way to go.  But the journey is part of the fun.

  1. Dear Janet,

    Winter/Summer ’75’. Spent many days exploring Yellowstone. I thank you for helping me return.



    • My pleasure, Doug. I think you’ll enjoy the Yellowstone photos, too, once I get some of them up. It’s a place of astounding beauty and variety, of both land and animals. The best thing is that you didn’t take up any room in the van! 🙂


  2. Colline says:

    The views are well worth leaving home early for.

  3. de Wets Wild says:

    Janet, your title immediately struck a chord with me (you know what big fans we are about our national parks here in South Africa) and the post did not disappoint. Beautiful images and the story so vividly told!

  4. Joyce says:

    We’ve been there many times for vacations and enjoyed them all. The last time we were there in June a few years ago we came into the south entrance to heaps and piles of leftover snow and a frozen Yellowstone Lake. Snow banks remained around for the entire trip so was hard to hike or walk much on trails. When we pulled out of YNP to head up to Glacier Nat’l Park in Montana we came out that morning in a snow blizzard and went into heavy rain, so was an interesting trip. 🙂 We’ve been rewarded several times to get a good look at the moose, bison, black bears and even grizzly bears from the road at about 5:00 a.m. so pays to get up really early for those shots of the grizzlies.

  5. That predawn photo is otherworldly, with the intense glowing blue sky and the road curving away between looming trees. As for the falls, they took my breath away, and I’m only looking at a photo while sitting securely on a ground-level chair, not standing on a rickety platform close enough to fall in!

  6. Such an amazing view! Visiting Yellowstone is high on my wish list of places I want to explore!