California bound – Day four: Cody to Yellowstone

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Today is the day I’ve been looking forward to throughout ourĀ entire trip: our day at Yellowstone National Park. It blew my expectations out of the water. The drive in to the park was breathtaking. In the Badlands, we purchased an annual pass for $80, which gets the cardholder (me) and a car full of people into any national park for free. The entrance fee to get into both The Badlands, Yellowstone and The Grand Teatons without a pass would have been $65. Since I will most likely be visiting other National Parks while in California, this was a good investment for me. It is just something to think about when going on a road trip with multiple National Park pit-stops.

A couple things we learned while at Yellowstone:

  1. Put on sunscreen. Everywhere. Even though mom and I were wearing our sweaters for a majority of our hiking, Yellowstone is up in the mountains where the sun is stronger and the air is thinner. I got sunburned on the front of my neck and chest, and mom got sunburned on the backs of her legs. NOTHING IS SAFE.
  2. Drink LOTS of water. You may not think that you’re sweating, but you are. And the altitude makes you dehydrated as the air is dryer and thinner. If you want to see a lot of things in one day, drink up so you won’t burn out. Also, there are bathrooms located at most of the major stops, so there’s no worry about drinking too much. Also, carry Advil or Tylenol just in case.
  3. If everyone is stopped on the road, it’s most likely for wildlife, so be patient and have your camera ready. We got to see buffalo and an elk up close and personal because of this. Just roll with it and enjoy the moment. Also, don’t honk at others trying to get a picture. It’s rude and disturbs the wildlife. Don’t be that guy.

 

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Yellowstone is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

 

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Our first stop was the beautiful and brisk rapids of the Yellowstone river. There were these flying bugs dive-bombing us the entire time, but the view made it worth it.

 

Here we are all bundled up to protect ourselves from the millions of flying bugs who were trying to hitch a ride in our clothes.
Here we are all bundled up to protect ourselves from the millions of flying bugs who were trying to hitch a ride in our clothes. The sun reflecting off the water also made it hard to take a photo with normal-looking exposure.

 

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The stinky, beautiful sulfurous mudpits.

 

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Many of the mudpits are just warm enough to support colorful bacteria and algae, which is what you see next to the bubbling, muddy pool and stream.

 

Yellowstone had many pull-offs during the drive with spectacular views. This was another one of the many beautiful vistas.
Yellowstone had many pull-offs during the drive with spectacular views. This was another one of the many beautiful vistas.

 

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The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Probably one of my favorite stops.

 

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These lakes and ponds may look beautiful, but the bright blue water has the acidic equivalency of battery acid making it almost impossible to support life.

 

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Yellowstone is constantly changing. One place that may have been thriving with life five years ago could now be a newly formed geothermal pool or steam vent. Due to the extreme acidity and heat from the nearby geothermal pools, the trees surrounding the once green landscape have cooked from the roots up leaving them snow-white and dead.

 

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Traffic was literally backed up for about a quarter of a mile for this elk, just eating some grass, minding his own business. People were literally jumping our of their cars and running to grab a picture of this guy. Mom managed to snap this picture while staying in the car.

 

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Buffalo herds were strewn all across the park, with lots of babies running around. These guys were so close to the road that they were stopping traffic.

After seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, mom and I were getting a little burnt out, so we decided to head to Old Faithful. Just a forewarning if you are planning on visiting the Old Faithful part of the park, it is huge, so remember where you parked. This is where mom and I took a break and stopped for dinner.

We ate at the Old Faithful Inn, (not pictured, sorry!) and had a delicious buffet of prime rib, steamed trout and an assortment of veggies, rice and salad with huckleberry vinagrette (also not pictured, sorry again! We were too hungry to remember to take photos). This was partly our fault, because we should have recorded our timeĀ better, but we ended up missing Old Faithful because our waiter took forever to bring us our check. Because the geyser erupts every 90 minutes or so, we would have had to wait another 90 minutes to see it erupt again, and the sun was already starting to set. We didn’t want to have to drive in the mountains in the dark, so we left the park in a little bit of a sour mood. I think it was a combination of exhaustion and saltiness, but we got over it pretty quickly as we drove through the beautiful southern part of Yellowstone. Our cabins were beautiful and welcoming, so that was a beautiful thing to “come home to” after a long day of exploring.

 

Our adorable cabin right outside of yellowstone in the Grand Teatons at Flagg Ranch.
Our adorable cabin right outside of Yellowstone in the Grand Teatons at Flagg Ranch.

Tomorrow we are off to Salt Lake City, and then Sacramento! Can’t wait!

Bonus: Video Compilation of Yellowstone

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