Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is the United State’s first national park. It was established on March 1, 1872 and is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming. More than 90 percent of YNP’s 3,468 square miles (8,980 km) is in Wyoming with smaller parts in Montana and Idaho.
In 1807, John Coulter, a member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, passed through an area that later became part of YNP. He described a place of “fire and brimstone”, but his story was dismissed as delirium since he was found wandering naked and wounded from a battle with local Indian tribes. The area, which includes land around the town of Cody, was nicknamed “Coulter’s Hell”.
The visitors we see are going in or coming out of YNP via the East Entrance.
Visitors are given a stack of pamphlets at every entrance to YNP. Most of them are warnings about staying away from the animals:
Visitors are also given a map of the park and our guided tour will start at the East Entrance since it’s the only one worth mentioning.
Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano; it has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Rumour has it, if it decides to blow, we’re all dead.
Fishing Bridge, built in 1902, it was once Yellowstone’s most popular fishing location. I remember my grandpa taking me here as a kid and I had to fight for a small space on the bridge to fish.
Fishing is now limited to catch and release so hardly anyone stops.
Turning left after Fishing Bridge, you will find Natural Bridge. This bridge is a 2 1/2 mile hike from the road so since I’m lazy and don’t want to be eaten by a grizzly, I’ve never seen it. But here’s a picture.
If you turn right at Fishing Bridge (which is my recommendation since there isn’t much between Fishing Bridge and West Thumb except Natural Bridge and a possible grizzly attack) you will find the Mud Volcanos. They are less “volcanos” and more “oozing pits of hot, muddy slop”, but that doesn’t look good on a brochure. They also stink like rotten eggs.
Continuing on, you will find The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This is probably the most photographed and painted sight in all of YNP.
The next stop is Tower Falls by Tower Junction. I think this is a more impressive waterfall, maybe because it is less photographed.
A nice resting place is Mammoth Hot Springs. Lodging is available and it is well worth spending an extra day or two at the hot springs to see the splendor.
This is also a nice place for this post to stop and rest since it is HUGE. Part II will cover the area from Mammoth to the South Entrance.