The American Vacation in Yellowstone by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp

Last week we spent six glorious days in Yellowstone. What a wonderful family vacation spot! We picked the best time to go, early June when the wildlife is active and the mammas and babies are everywhere. Just looking at the bison I was sure that many of them were “later mamas”!

Our path led us up through northern Colorado, into Wyoming via Rawlins. Since it’s a long drive we stayed overnight at an RV campground in Rawlins. The camp host Dale was a delight and made sure our few hours there were enjoyable. He not only gave me the “Colorado” discount (he’s a native too) but also came through when we needed a regulator for the propane tank, something that would have ended our trip if we hadn’t found. The next morning when we left for Yellowstone he gave us a big wave goodbye.

We took the road through Ft. Washakie and up through the Teton National Park on our way to Yellowstone. This was a beautiful path to take, and we were awestruck by the amazing mountains. Not that different from ours in Colorado, but they were rugged and snow covered. We got to Yellowstone early on a Wednesday morning, and hit a small amount of traffic delay from road construction. The crew did their best to make the wait short, and we were soon on the way through to the upper loop of the park. Not long after we hit the two lane road we came upon another jam of cars. I asked a woman standing by her car what was ahead to see, and she said there was a mama black bear and her cub. The cub was high up in the pine tree, and mama laying on the ground below. The mass of people wanting to see this was crazy – and my daughter and I were there with them. Mark found a place to park the truck and waited for us. About the time the cub came down from his pine tree cradle, mama bear stood up on her hind legs and looked at all of us people snapping photos of her and her baby. She was obviously assessing the group and contemplating her next move. I looked at Erica and said “that’s our signal to get moving.” We didn’t have to outrun the bear, only the other tourists!

There is so much to see beyond Old Faithful. Anyone with an appreciation for nature will be in awe at every turn in the road (and there are many!). I really enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife, and there was a bison herd near our campsite. I started calling them “lawnmowers” since all they did was eat the sweet grass everywhere. We also saw an osprey and chick in an enormous nest high on the top of a rock formation just below a waterfall. And I can’t forget to mention what Mark and Erica found not 20 feet out of our campsite – let’s just say the answer to the old question “does a bear poop in the woods?” is a GIANT yes!

Yellowstone takes you back in time to when the volcano erupted and what we see now is the result of many, many years of steam and water escaping from deep in the earth, bubbling mud pots, pools of clear (but super hot) water, and formations of mineral deposits and the microbes that live in them. I’m still processing all that we saw. I will share more next week!

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