Written by Ron Sterbenz
Photography by Wietse Jongsma
What is it like to visit Yellowstone?
This really depends on what you want to see (A), how off the beaten path you want to get (B) and what you mean by “Yellowstone” (C).
A) Do you want to see wildlife and circle of life, thermal features, the vastness of an enormous volcano caldera, rock formations? These are all amazing in and around the park. Do you want to explore in the winter or the summer? There is life and views during all of the seasons. For me it’s the wildlife. It is unmatched anywhere else in the lower 48. The fall is the elk bugling and rut, spring its bear cubs and babies everywhere, hundreds of baby bison. The winter is the time of the wolves and various wolf packs (working on this video today from this winter in the park). This is not a place for the “rushed” I have sat watching a hillside and sometimes from nowhere, over a ridge comes a pack of wolves and grizzly following close behind yet 10 mins ago there was nothing that anyone could see.
B) How far off the road do you want to go to explore? and how long of a day do you want to put into it? There are day hikes and overnights (never hike alone if you value your life). There are some really amazing vistas you can hike to away from the mass of people and just sit on a ridge and watch the wildlife that after some time you didn’t see before. The bears are there once you know what to look for and where to find them. As you hike over a ridge you’re always amazed at the sheer vastness in front of you and that you have many more ridges to hike before you ever find another road or trail. It is so vast in size.
C) There is Yellowstone and then there is the GYE (Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem) that encomapsses the park and other areas around it like the beartooth pass, the Tetons to the south and so many other places. If you have the time make the drive over to Red Lodge out the northeast entrance (only open late May to late Sept) when the pass is open and not snow covered. That is a spectacular part of the country, in fact the radio collared bear “scarface” in second video below has been seen that far out of the park roaming his territory.
Yellowstone is an amazing place. Its wild, filled with great National Park employees that some of the nicest people always willing to answer a question about the park and its natural wonders. If you ever met a biologist on a trail ask them what they research and ask them questions about that research and you will learn more about them and their subjects than you will ever see in a National Geographic show.
Beware — the first time I went to the park I thought I would see it in one day. It was a bad plan. So I had to go back and have been going a couple times a year for the last 6–7 years.
Here are couple videos all taken on an iPhone by me:
Text: www.quora.com. Link: https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-explore-Yellowstone
Republished with permission, as per Quora's Terms of Service, under the subsection titled, "Quora's Licenses to You".
Photography was taken from the following Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11497410@N08/albums/72157657907537180/with/21117429614/