Sorry for the delay, mi amigos. But I’m back in action and ready to relay the last 9 days goodness to you all. Loosed backlog mega-blog-update-athon #2 beginning… Now!!
When I rolled out of Bozeman, I headed south for Jellystone er.. Yellowstone National Park, just a short ride down to the Montana/Wyoming border (the park lies mostly in northwestern Wyoming but spills over into Idaho to the west and Montana to the north).
Yellowstone is a wild and magical place. As I entered the park, there was a sort of buzz in the air. It felt like I was entering a zoo or some special spot where I’d see wonders that don’t exist anywhere else (almost like going back in time within the confines of the park). That was true to some degree. It has some of the most diverse landscapes I’ve seen anywhere in one area – from mountains and forests to vast dry sand and limestone rock structures, bubbling calderas and hot springs, waterfalls, valleys and creeks and all sorts of other natural wonders.
It truly is something of a zoo with rich wildlife wandering unhindered (read: unafraid of humans who will not shoot them here) throughout the park – from elk and moose to marmots, bald eagles, coyotes, wolves (recently re-introduced to ‘right’ the balance of nature here that has been missing since ranchers nearly killed them all – a livestock ‘nuisance’) and black and grizzly bears.
Riding through here, it’s not hard to imagine how wild and diverse the US was before it was settled. It was a very, very, very different place, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, Yellowstone is something of an amusement park as well. I’d gotten some raised eyebrows and urging from a few people to ‘just spend a day there and drive through’ but without any explanation. Now I know why.
There are thousands of RVs, cars, and people everywhere there. It felt like the kids should have been wearing Mickey Mouse ears and carrying balloons there were so many of them. As the US’s first national park, it is a destination for most Americans (and rightly so to be fair) and all seem to come in the Summer. In the last 100 years or so since it was declared a national park, an infrastructure has been developed here that would make some small towns envious. It accomodates RVs and those comfy with viewing everything from a car window but clogs the hell out of the park as a result. There are multi-story lodges, developed campgrounds, general stores as big as a Wal-Mart, gas stations and, get this, a 4-lane road with an OVERPASS near Old Faithful. That’s how many people come here. A 4-lane road with overpass (and exits) inside a national park (near Old Faithful, which accomodates 1000s of gawkers at each spout – every hour or so). The miles of roads leading into the park are even more obnoxious with offerings of services and products all playing off of the Yellowstone mystique.
By some stroke of perfect irony, I began reading Edward Abbey’s ‘Desert Solitaire’ about a week prior to coming here. Suffice it to say that this guy, a former park ranger in Utah and advocate for car-free national parks – among other more drastic measures.., is rolling (or laughing) in his grave right now.
As much as I enjoyed the park, I felt the need to get out. It’s sort of hard to immerse yourself in the majesty of this incredible place when some kid is dribbling his ice cream cone on your shoe.
(Full disclosure: Yes, I realize I am one of those tourists, enjoying most of the scenery from my motorcycle. And just as at fault. There, I said it. Now I feel better.)
If you do go to Yellowstone, go early or late in the season. Or in the winter. Pics look amazing from that time of year.
Done with tirade.