July 11th and 12th

No American road trip would be complete without a stay at one of the USA’s many national parks.  Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone Park, the world’s first national park, in the late 1800’s.  His motivation was to preserve a part of this country’s raw landscape for future generations to enjoy.  After visiting this magnificent park, we are grateful to Mr. Grant for his vision.

Another planet? Nope. It's Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone!

Yellowstone is huge.  When I say huge, I mean it would take you days to just explore the surface of what it has to offer.  With over 1,000 miles of hiking trails and covering over 2 million acres, there is much to see here.  If you like to camp, hike, and bike, I recommend staying in one of the parks many campgrounds and spend at least a few days there.  Even though we had our dogs with us, I would not recommend that you bring yours.  For the safety of the wildlife and of your pets, they have many limitations as far as where dogs are allowed to go.  To get the full Yellowstone experience, leave the pups at home if you can.

A regal elk wades in a stream only feet from where I took this photo.

Our first morning there we saw black bear, grizzly bear, elk, buffalo, deer, mountain squirrel, and Canadian geese.  Traffic literally stops when wildlife is spotted from the road, and everyone grabs their camera.  I was surprised at how close the animals would get to the road and the gawking spectators, but the park rangers were always nearby making sure people didn’t get too close.

Picture perfect at Yellowstone.

I think when people consider spectacular travel destinations, they think of somewhere overseas.  What’s in our own backyard gets forgotten, but America has so many beautiful places to see.  Wild places.  Spiritual places.  Places that don’t exist outside of this country.  Yellowstone is one of those places.  I’m thankful we got the chance to experience it, even if it were for only a couple of days.

Next stop: Montana!