For many travelers, the experience of finding peace in nature is the ultimate goal, even if there are a lot of other people around for it.
Yellowstone National Park is one of those places where you can see license plates from across North America in one parking lot. But it’s also the kind of place where people experience the grandeur of nature on a unique level. And bears. There are a lot of bears.
Native Americans have been calling the region home for thousands of years. It’s not hard to understand why as the area is laden with natural beauty and resources. The same things drew explorers and settlers in, as well.
In March of 1872, then-President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law that created Yellowstone National Park. Ferdinand V. Hayden was one of the staunchest advocates of the park, wanting to prevent it from being ravaged by capitalists and unthinking tourists.
As time went on, Yellowstone grew in size and scope. That included adding in more amenities to support the ever-increasing number of visitors. But a balance had to be maintained to protect the natural beauty of the region while helping people experience it.
The park has several small “townships” at different spots. Each one has a mix of hotels, restaurants, stores, service stations, and information centers. The services provided are important but have been designed to minimize their impact on the region.
A park filled with wonders
Yellowstone is an incredible place to spend time. It is literally overflowing with natural beauty, not to mention a shocking range of features. Most people are familiar with the big ones, like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. But they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Around every corner, visitors to Yellowstone will find geysers, steam vents and bubbling cauldrons of sulphuric mud. As beautiful as many of these features are, people who have not treated them with respect have ended up killed by them.
This is the result of the volcanic system underneath the park. All of this has created unique rock formations that appear on a grand scale. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has to be seen to appreciate its full glory.
What often gets underestimated in Yellowstone are its incredible archaeological features. Over 1000 archaeological sites have been discovered in the park. There are also hundreds of structures that have great architectural and historical importance.
Wildlife tourism at its finest
The biggest reason to head to Yellowstone is the incredible array of wildlife that exists there. As cliched as it seems, the scope of the animals there is awe-inspiring to say the least. It’s hard to put it into words.
Yellowstone is home to the largest herd of American bison that the public has access to. They are, in fact, only one of four genetically pure free-roaming herds in North America. At one point, the Yellowstone herd was down to less than 50.
These days, the herd numbers in the thousands and is an impressive sight. The same is true of Yellowstone’s wolves. Reintroduced in the 1990s, they have bounced back incredibly well and proven how important wolves are to a healthy ecosystem.
In addition to bison, the park also houses other megafauna species like a mountain goat, elk, moose, deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. It also features a variety of predators such as both black and grizzly bears, coyotes, lynx, cougars, and the aforementioned wolves.
None of this even takes into account the various species of bird, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in Yellowstone. The range of wildlife in the park is astonishing, from brown bears to yellow-bellied marmots to sandhill cranes.
Just remember that this is wildlife, not a zoo. There are no guarantees as to what animals will and won’t make an appearance on a trip to Yellowstone. But if you don’t see a bear, you might see a moose or maybe even a cougar. Hopefully, there’s some distance between you and the cougar.
Plan Yellowstone carefully
Yellowstone National Park is a popular destination for good reason. The beauty and wonder contained within it cannot be experienced in a couple of days. It takes time to dig into the park and truly enjoy it.
When planning to camp, it’s important to know that sites cannot be reserved. It’s first-come, first served, and the lineups are long in the prime season. But the hotel rooms can be reserved, allowing travelers to more thoroughly lay out their trips.
There are several to choose from, some situated close to some of Yellowstone’s biggest draws. Choose one that fits the goals for your trip. After that, there are so many ways to enjoy the park that you can truly create an experience that belongs to you.