Posted by: Nathan | June 29, 2007


I’ve been putting off this post since I returned from Yellowstone National Park a week and a half ago (plus, there was a wedding in there…), not because I dreaded writing about such an extraordinary place, but because I didn’t know where to begin.

Yellowstone is really three national parks in one sprawling location in northwest Wyoming. It offers no shortage of scenery, from the enormous Yellowstone Lake to Lower Yellowstone Falls and the canyon to white-peaked mountains all the way around the park. It’s also an absolute haven for wildlife. We saw grizzlies (a mom and two cubs), a black bear, a coyote, plenty of elk, pelicans, marmots, and innumerable bison; you can’t drive for any length of time without seeing bison—they’re everywhere, and frequently right by the road. They are looked-for friends after a day or two. The third aspect is the most famous: the volcanic activity including springs, pools, paints pots, mud pots, and (por supuesto) geysers.

I guess I’ll just post some pictures and comment a bit about them, starting with scenery.


Tower Falls, in the northeast part of the park, 120 feet of falling water. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get as close to the falls as we wanted because the trail leading to the bottom was closed. Still, just beautiful.



This is a picture from the peak of Mt. Washburn, which we scaled on our second day there (2.5 miles one way, 1800 ft elevation change. Whoof!). That ditch in the middle is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and you can kind of see Yellowstone Lake toward the top of the shot.




More pictures from Mt. Washburn. The sprawling vastness just isn’t able to captured on camera, but you can see some of the white peaks that skirt the park.


Yellowstone Lake with Mt. Sheridan in the background. It was quite a windy day.



Lower Yellowstone Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This is probably one of the most famous shots of the park, taken from Artist’s Point. The Canyon is unlike any I’ve seen: multicolored, jagged walls dotted with evergreen, featuring occasional spires of rocks and other formations. Truly a must-see if you visit.

Wildlife, of course is much harder to capture well, especially when you’re just a tourist armed with a pocket-sized camera. That said, here we go.


A bull elk. We saw a fair amount of these, but they’re still neat. There was a group of females who really enjoyed the manicured lawn near the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel where we stayed two nights.




The aforementioned black bear. He was actually pretty close to our parked car. We observed him a while and saw him scratch his back against the log behind him there.



Bison, right by the road as you can see. Gigantic and ever-present, these guys are Dan’s favorites. We could hear this one pulling the grass up with his teeth. Wow.




Big horn sheep (still growing their horns) en route to the top of Mt. Washburn.




The grizzly mother and her cubs. We saw them two days in a row at the same place, and they drew a big crowd of sightseers and photographers, I can tell you.

Now the geothermal stuff, for which Yellowstone is rightly renowned.


Mammoth Hot Springs. This is only a small part of them—the top center. Many of the springs have dried up leaving behind incredible terraces where sulphuric water once flowed. Other places are still very much active with a lot of steam (pictured) and vivid colors on the rock.




A mud pot. These guys really had a cool personality. Ploop ploop ploop-ploop, ploop.




Grand Prismatic Spring. This is only a corner of it; it’s huge. The red you’re seeing here runs all the way around a central, turquoise pool fed by a spring. There’s constant steam rising from it. It was one of the highlights of the trip for reasons that are hard to express; it was breath-taking.



You might recognize this guy. Yeah, it’s Old Faithful. How could we skip it? Some people told me it was overrated before I left. I don’t know when those folks lost their sense of wonder, but they are dead wrong. Still very cool, and it erupted within a minute of its predicted time.



Sapphire Pool. So deep and so blue.



Castle Geyser. It’s in the same neighborhood as Old Faithful, so we were fortunate enough to see them both erupt. Castle was more impressive, sending its jets of water higher into the air and continuously erupting for over 20 minutes. Wow.

There is so much more to Yellowstone than the simple 16 pictures I’ve posted here. It was a playground of wonders. My grandma said it is like a magical land; I agree. I’m sure D&E have more amazing pictures from the trip.

If you’re looking for a place to recover your sense of wonder or a feeling of awe, look no further.


  1. Great post! You do such a great job of giving someone who’s never been to Yellowstone the merest sense of what it holds. I’d gladly take those pictures (and any others you took) in full size if you’re in the mood to e-mail them. 😉 I’m glad you guys had such a great time.

  2. Nathan,

    This was a very fun read. Of course, I’ve never been to Yellowstone, but now I want to see it even more. Your photography is wonderful to see. Knowing me, if I went I’d take a picture every 1.2 seconds. 🙂

  3. Yes you would, but in a contest of Who Would Take the Most Pictures, I think I’d bet on E—especially if wildflowers are involved.

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