The first national park ever to be created in the USA was Yellowstone and sits just north of Grand Teton. Having enjoyed a lovely sunrise on the morning in Grand Teton, we packed up camp and made the short drive up to Yellowstone. The iconic park is famous for its geysers, wildlife and fauna, so we knew we’d be shooting a lot less landscapes and much more wildlife – at least as exciting if you ask me.
Not even having reached our campsite, we ran into a horde of people on spotting scopes. We pulled over and I got out my binoculars just in time to witness a pack of 6 wolves hunting elk in the far distance. What a start for Yellowstone! Talking to some people in attendance, they claimed this is rare to see. Lucky us!
After setting up camp we explored the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls – amazing waterfalls which we’d shoot if some clouds would roll in one morning or evening – for now, we settled for the amazing colour contrast of the Yellowstone river and the actual yellow stone which gives this park its name.
After a frosty night (0°C), we had some porridge to warm us up and set out to explore Lamar Valley, where we were told to find some wildlife. Boy were we lucky that day: we started out with a black bear cub, ran into an osprey feeding on a fish, woodpeckers feeding their chicks, deer, ground squirrel, and even mountain goats and grizzly bears in the far distance. Lining the road left and right were plenty of bison, even some with calves!
Back at camp we took a nap until midnight, when we got up and drove to the Norris and Midway Geyser basins to shoot the milky way above the boiling hot springs and vents. Wow, walking across the boardwalks through fields of bubbling mud, water spewing geysers and venting fumaroles felt like exploring an alien planet and must be one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had!
After getting back to bed at 5 am, we slept well into noon, and then set off to explore the geysers during daylight. What a world of difference: hordes of tourists, not nearly as much mist and not nearly as mesmerizing as by night. As predicted by the weather forecast, some clouds started rolling in for sunset and we managed to get some decent shots of the Lower Falls of Yellowstone River, before we headed back to camp to chat with our neighbours until rain began to fall around midnight.
The last full day in Yellowstone was a rainy one – so we set out to capture the park’s more intimate landscapes and some more wildlife during those hours. We were captivated by the mist over some lake, the charred trees surrounded by green grass and newly growing ones and the ever-changing weather: rain, hail, sunshine and snow… The remainder of the day we spent catching up on photo editing and blog writing in the warmth of the lodge at Canyon village. On a whim, we went back to Lower Falls Overlook for sunset, and were rewarded with some nice colours and lots of mist rising up from the bottom of the falls. Also, we ran into Nina and Fiona, two swiss ladies, just finishing up their 2-month road-trip – what a coincidence!
Yellowstone was a special experience with so many different aspects: geysers, bubbling hot springs, loads of wildlife, charred landscapes and tourism galore. I definitely see why the first National Park ever to be established in the USA is such a tourist magnet, but I wish it weren’t, for the park would be so much more attractive without all the people in it.
For now, we’re off to Montana, where we’ll have a long day of driving and a night at an AirBnB ahead of us, before hitting Glacier National Park!