Yellowstone Part 2 by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
Camping in Yellowstone is fading into memory already. Our family had a great time, and I’m glad I took the 300+ photos so that we will have a way to recall the best parts.
Yellowstone National Park was the first of it’s kind, created in 1872. At the time, it was also the first national park in the world. The park has evolved over the years into a great family friendly place, but keep in mind it’s still not an amusement park. Kids are bound to be bored by some of it, so the park (as well as other national parks) have a Junior Ranger program. Erica was given a 12 page activity booklet, sort of a treasure hunt for information. The front page shows the Junior Range pledge to preserve and protect the park. The back page had questions that pertained to the park, it’s rules and it’s history. Erica was required to answer the questions to earn a Junior Ranger patch, and Park Ranger Miller made sure she had completed her booklet – no cheating! He pointed out that few kids complete the prediction of geysers, the “math” part of the book as she did, correctly! He also complimented her on her written answers (I was just glad he could read her writing). Then he made a very official announcement and presented Erica with her patch, and we and other visitors applauded her (to her delight!).
Canyon Village was our home for the first two nights. We camped in a pop-up truck camper, and having the showers in the village and restrooms with running water in the campground was really nice, although the teenage girls monopolizing the restrooms was a little frustrating. About twenty feet from our campsite was evidence of wildlife – bear scat. Let me say that if the size of the scat pile was proportioned to the bear that left it, we had missed seeing a pretty big bear. There was a smaller pile nearby, which probably was from a cub. We never did see the bear, but I’m okay with that. Yellowstone is not really good for pets, and I would not suggest taking your dog. We had to leave ours in the camper more than I expected, as dogs are not allowed on any trails or boardwalks near the geysers and springs, and there was always the worry of coming across a bear.
Canyon was my favorite area of Yellowstone, and the area to the north at Tower Fall. Here is where the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (photo above) stands tall above the Yellowstone River. The views of the canyon are awe-inspiring, and the rock is many different colors. Each viewpoint gives a different aspect of the falls and it’s beauty.
Around the entire park we saw many dead lodgepole pine trees, standing like stakes in the ground, thirty to forty feet high. Surrounding them were millions of new trees, growing in every available inch of the forest. In 1988 there was a massive forest fire which burned more than 150,000 acres. The lodgepole pine reseeded naturally after this fire, since the heat of the fire scorched the pine cones and releasing the seeds, and allowing them to take root. I was continually amazed by the density of the “new” twenty five year growth of the trees. Most are six to eight feet tall, tightly packed together, but creating a beautiful wall of green. Fire may be devastating at first, but it’s crucial to a forest to evolve.
The park has a great recycling program that allows visitors to reduce the waste that is hauled out each day and it was easy and convenient. Large dumpsters were available for glass, paper, even propane cylinders, and canisters of bear spray (hopefully unused!). It was a good reminder of how much of what we use we can recycle, even after we are back home.
We were lucky to have great weather while we were at Yellowstone. A local group from our area went the week after we did and were greeted by snow! We also had the benefit of fewer tourists, since we were there just after Memorial Day. We did notice many people from around the world coming to see our country’s great park, many from places that have nothing like it. I was as impressed as they were. The combination of scenery, natural wonders, wildlife, visitor centers, and great people working to make any visit an adventure all came together for a wonderful trip. I’m grateful for those who had the foresight to protect and preserve this area for our generation and those to come.