These parks are quite different from each other, and both offer a lot of natural landscape to explore. We purchase an annual National Parks pass each year so we can pop in and out of them as we please, without paying the entrance fee each time.
Yellowstone National Park itself is very diverse, with all sorts of different terrain and topography within its borders. In addition to Old Faithful and numerous other geysers, there are magnificent mountains,
sulphuric hot springs and mud pots, areas of fire restoration, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and all sorts of animals to see.
|A site of a previous forest fire.|
|The geothermal features of Yellowstone are dangerously hot - stick to the walkways and be careful!|
|Adults and children by this patch of snow (in June) in the Visitor's Center Parking lot and I saw it being used for several snowball fights!|
Returning home on Monday after dropping my son off in Wyoming, my husband and I decided to drive through Yellowstone Park. We entered the park through the east entrance, which we had never done before. Going home this way added a little bit of time on to our trip, but the scenery was well worth it.
|Yellowstone National Park, East Entrance|
Since our primary objective was simply to get home, our trip through the park this time was a quick one. Most of the photos I took were through the car window as we kept moving. Had we stopped though, I would not have gotten out of the car to photograph the animals unless it had been been safe to do so. I only had my iPhone with me, but a telephoto lens is a real plus for photography in the park!
|Zooming in and cropping my photos made the buffalo appear much closer than they really were.|
We were not really in the park at an optimal time to see many animals. It was midday, and the weather was hot and sunny. Animal sightings are much more likely in early morning hours or closer to dusk, and no bears, moose, or elk were visible this trip. We did spot four bighorn sheep, a pheasant running across the road, and quite a few bison throughout the park.
The animals are wild and can be dangerous!Unfortunately, the bison of Yellowstone have gotten some press lately. Twice already this summer, tourists have ventured too close to them with dire results. In less than a month, two people have been gored - click here to read a CNN News account. There was nothing wrong with these buffalo - they were just acting like the wild animals that they are. Buffalo may look cute and sort of cuddly, but they are powerful and fast, and not friendly.
We live in a world where there are many "simulated" types of environments. Perhaps it is these experiences that have made people less cautious than they should be. Make no mistake however; our National parks are not Disneyland! The animals you may encounter are real and wild. The park is their home. They are not there because they are safe for human interactions; we are simply fortunate that the setup of these parks allows us to observe them from time to time.
In some ways, the animals in our National Parks might even be more dangerous than animals of the same species encountered elsewhere. The level of socialization and exposure to humans experienced by animals in the parks may have removed some of their fear of humans, but none of their wildness. Remember to use common sense and extreme caution whenever you come across any of these animals.
Majestic MountainsDuring our drive, my husband asked me, “Can you imagine never having seen scenery and mountains like this?” Having grown up just 40 miles outside of Banff National Park in Canada, I cannot. Mountains are amongst my earliest memories. But every area - mountains or not - has its beauty.
We are so lucky there are places like our National Parks. It is wise to always remember however, that the purpose of the parks is so that we can experience nature with all of its wild unpredictability. They are quite different from a Disneyland adventure!
How many National Parks have you visited?
Which one is your favorite or would you like most to see?
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