Recently, I was on tour, and we made the last minute decision to drive through Yellowstone National Park instead of taking our normal route of highways between shows. Little did we know that we were in for an amazing experience. We knew the park was beautiful, but the timing of our journey couldn't have been better.
That morning, in the small town of Cody, I had asked the owner of the local coffeeshop if it was possible to commute through the park on our way to the next city. She said that it was, but said to proceed with caution, because the park would be closing in just a few days, and there was a chance that they wouldn't let us through. We decided to go ahead, and were so glad we did.
A few days more, and the park would have been sealed off for winter. This meant, that we pretty much had the entire national park to ourselves. Yes, we saw a few cars, but largely, were driving deserted roads through some stunning landscapes! Here are a few photos from the East Gate of the park:
One thing Yellowstone is famous for usually walks on four legs and loves picnic baskets. Unfortunately, we didn't see any of those in the park, but several other of the local Yellowstone residents crossed our path. The mountain goats and bison were particularly friendly and photogenic:
As we neared the center of the park, there were stark reminders everywhere of the danger of forest fire. In 1988 the fire season had the largest fires in the Park's history. A total of 793,880 acres burned, and the Park looks like a vastly different place today then when it was founded. Two major visitor centers were destroyed in the blaze, the Park completely closed for the first time in its history, At the peak of the firefighting effort that year, there were over 9,000 individuals involved in the fight. The ecosystem was not permanently damaged, but is still on the mend. Here are some photos from the area surrounding the lake in the center of the park:
Continuing on from the center of the park, and heading north, we passed through some more of the open vistas of the park. Our path didn't take us pass any geysers, but we were able to see some hot springs on our drive. Upon reaching the North Gate, we were all incredibly thankful for our fortunate detour adventure for the day. Yellowstone is definitely a national treasure. I have always appreciated the foresight of Teddy Roosevelt in his creation of the National Park System, but even more so today. The steps taken so long ago have really preserved some amazing landscapes for generations to come. I hope to bring my children here soon, so that they can see Yellowstone for themselves.