One day I saw this amazing picture in National Geographic magazine which instantly grabbed my attention. The colours were so spectacular I wasn’t sure what I was looking at and I wondered if indeed it was from this planet. It was an aerial picture of the Fountain Paint Pot, and ever since then Yellowstone had fuelled my imagination.
Unfortunately I can not find the picture of the Fountain Paint Pot on NationalGeographic.com any more but if anyone has a copy or link, please post.
The picture above of Grand Prismatic Spring (also in Yellowstone) is similar but I remember the Fountain Paint Pot picture being more captivating.
Actually being in Yellowstone exceeded my expectation and filled every sense of my body with excitement.
I marvelled at the dazzling array of nature’s wonders – massive geyser basins, intricate terraces, translucent and colourful pools, sparkling hot springs, tranquil grasslands, picturesque streams along which lone fishermen were hoping to land a trout to be cooked over a camp fire later, and the list goes on.
It was great to see many wild animals roaming free and unafraid around humans, as they should be able to as we all had the equal right to exist on this planet.
You are immersed in the 3D experience of the animal kingdom as you watch big male elks fight for dominance over a herd of females in front of you or when you run into a herd of pronghorns on the way to wolf spotting.
And yes, I did get to see the Fountain Paint Pot. I even climbed a small hill next to it so I could see the colours from above.
However, I did not expect to see well laid out roads right through the middle of the park or the numerous cars and buses on them. I was there in autumn and I could imagine it would get much busier in summer. It is a fine balance between providing easy access for many people to the park so that they can have an enjoyable and educational visit, and the inevitable impact they will have on the nature we all cherish so much and endeavour to preserve.
You won’t find any malls but there are various accommodation options, tourism facilities, and stores within the park.
One of the things that makes Yellowstone stand out is that it’s an easy serving wonderland where so many attractions are jam packed in short distances.
There are plenty to see and do, and they are nearly all only a short stroll away from where you would get off your car. I would suggest staying about 2-3 days for the main highlights.
Even though taking a car is an easy option, I would strongly suggest cycling and camping as another great option.
1. To let us get closer to the nature and get the most out of the experience.
2. More importantly, to preserve the pristine nature the park is intended to stay as.
In West Yellowstone, which is one of the gateways to the park, you can find accommodation and stores for camping supplies and outdoor activity equipments.
If possible, plan about minimum 5 days (7+ if you are cycling) to explore different parts of the park and fit in one or two outdoor activities such as fishing and going for a dip in the natural hot springs.
Discover the backcountry the most visitors do not get to see.
All in all, even as an adult, it was like stepping into a wonderland as soon as you cross the park boundary, and a great learning experience. For children, it’s a place where animal cartoon characters can come alive and have a fantastic and fun experience that will last their lifetime.
It truly is a wonderland in every sense of the word.
(This post is based on my travel in 2003)