a teatray in the sky

leaving yellowstone

Posted in 5D Mark II, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park by firthefirst on September 29, 2010

on leaving yellowstone, I want to impart some advice for anyone who is interested in visiting and seeing these sights in person.  trying to plan a trip to a single park that is a quarter of the size of Taiwan (or a quarter of the size of the state of Maryland) can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  so here’s four simple tips for traveling to yellowstone.

  1. travel off-season.  I’ve come once in mid-may, the other time in early september (after labor day).  you get cheaper prices, far less competition for views, and much less park traffic to deal with.  the only downside is a lot of restaurants may not be open since it’s not peak season, limiting your dining hours and dining choices.  I think it’s a fair trade for being able to appreciate yellowstone’s grandeur without lines of cars on the roadways and throngs of tourists on the trails.  do note, if you go in may, some trails may still be snowed in (like the fantastic Uncle Tom’s Trail to the base of lower falls).  but, if you go in may, there’s a lot more animal activity.  so again, fair trade.
  2. stay in the park.  yes, it’s a bit more expensive than staying in west yellowstone.  but not by much, especially if you book early (which you should be doing anyway), and also not if you’re off-peak (see #1 above).  this means you get to enjoy sunrises and sunsets within the park.  it also means you don’t have to drive an additional hour or hour and a half each morning to get in and out of the park — you really could be doing better things with that time.
  3. see the less famous sights.  do old faithful.  do lower falls.  do mammoth hot springs.  but make sure you take the time to do the other stuff that doesn’t get much coverage, there’s so much more to what makes yellowstone one of the most impressive landscapes on earth than just those three big items.  things I think every visitor should absolutely do:
    • hike to the base of Tower Falls
    • sit and wait for the following geysers: Grand, Castle, Riverside
    • hike up to Artist Paint Pots
    • hike Uncle Tom’s Trail to the base of Lower Falls
  4. go see the grand tetons at the same time.  look, you made it all the way out here.  stick around.  it’s like going to Beijing and not taking the time to go see the Great Wall.  what were you thinking?

there’s no way you can come to this world-within-a-world and not be moved by the joy of experiencing nature in its primal state (and be awed by the size of the volcanic eruption that created the caldera that forms yellowstone national park).

6 Responses

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  1. clicksey said, on September 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Goodness me, that last photo is amazing!

    • firthefirst said, on September 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

      thanks — it was actually one that I didn’t expect to turn out well at all when I took it, way too much contrast. the sun did turn out to be totally blown out … but the clouds turned out pretty great

  2. truels said, on October 1, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for showing your many fine shots from Yellowstone, I have enjoyed them very much, and I wish to go there, when I visit USA next time…..

    • firthefirst said, on October 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

      yellowstone is definitely one of the iconic pieces of the american landscape, right up there with the grand canyon and new york city. I can’t imagine anyone going to yellowstone and/or the grand tetons and coming away disappointed

  3. Kai Brockbank said, on October 3, 2010 at 4:51 am

    That first shot really caught my eye. It’s amazing! I love the contrast between the dark geometric forms of the landings and the amazing colourful and flowing skys. The other photos are great as well, particularly the last one.

    • firthefirst said, on October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am

      yeah, the first one is a favorite of mine as well, I like the moodiness of it

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