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A Yellowstone Journal

A Yellowstone Journal

Steve and I are workcampers in the summer and we LOVE Yellowstone National Park, so when the chance to work in the park presented itself we jumped at it.
I will be writing a series of stories about our adventures in the park and sharing what to expect when you get there and what not to expect, also.
One of the things not to expect is telephone coverage…you will be unplugged. Verizon works in some places but other than that there is NO, NONE, NADA service. Oh, yes AT&T will get service near Lake Village, but you can drain your battery while you are trying to find it.

Related Read: Call of the Wild-5 Ways to Improve Phone Reception on the Road

To begin with: Yellowstone is HUGE, so plan to spend at least three or four days in the park to see just the surface of its amazing places and features.
There are five villages in the park: Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt Village, Canyon Village, Lake Yellowstone Village, Grant Village and Old Faithful Village.
Each village except Roosevelt has a visitor’s center and each visitor’s center is unique and worth seeing. They tell about the park’s animal life, its birds (Fishing Bridge has the visitors center for Lake Village), the geo thermal activity, the Great Fire in 1988 that changed Yellowstone and its creatures maybe forever and the history of the people who have nurtured the park. There are also two visitor’s centers at Norris Basin (which is one of the most beautiful features in the park).

It takes about forty-five minutes to drive from someplace to the next closest village so plan your days with that in mind. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Plan for animal jams. Bison (buffalo) like to walk on the road and they will slow down your plans, it happens, plan on it. If there is a bear sighting near the road people lose any common sense they may have brought into the park with them. I have seen them get out of their cars with the vehicle in drive and run to see a bear with cubs! We have witnessed people abandon their vans in the middle of a highway to see a grizzly devour a deer carcass. So, stay alert, drive the speed limits and when you do see things exciting please PULL OFF the road, put your car in park and then get out.

Related Read: Breaking Down in a Heard of Buffalo

There are 350 water falls in Yellowstone National Park. The most famous is Yellowstone Falls. Next to Niagara Falls it may one of the most awesome water falls in the lower 48. You can hear the roar of the water a mile from the canyon. There are the upper and lower falls and both are easy to get to. Yellowstone Falls is one of the” MUST SEE” features in the park. It is near Canyon Village on the east side of the park. Coming from Cody, you will turn right at Fishing Bridge junction and go to the signs, about 12 miles.

Another iconic feature of Yellowstone National Park is Old Faithful. It is the most visited geyser in the world. Old Faithful has gone off every 90 minutes (give or take 20 minutes) as long as the system has been recording its activity, that’s 1892. It spouts as much as 150 feet in the air and is drop dead gorgeous! Old Faithful is the most popular and famous but it is not the most beautiful. In the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful keeps company with 43 other pools, geysers and hot springs. There are several levels of hikes available around the Upper Geyser Basin as well as wheel chair paths for those who need them. Put Black Sand Basin on your list of things to see while you are in this area. It is simply too beautiful to miss. It is 4 miles of flat board walk from Old Faithful but you can drive to it and it is just a quick 30-minute stroll to see it all.
A really fun thing to do when you have had enough of spouting, bubbling and gurgling hot stuff is swimming in the Fire Hole River. It’s warm! Ask the Rangers for directions and make sure to bring a change of clothes. Once my grandkids discovered the river that was the end of discovery we swam in the “hot” river for days.

Related Read: 25 Water Safety Tips for a Safer Summer

I’ll wrap this up with questions I’ve been asked. Truly these are questions asked in earnest by folks who just haven’t had much time in the wilderness.

“Sandie, where are the barns?” answer…” Yellowstone is like a reverse zoo. We control the people and the animals do whatever they want. So, no barns, they are wild.”

“Sandie, what time do they turn Old Faithful off?” Silent implosion of laughter.

“Sandie, who is the vet for the elk?” See answer one.

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Sandra Crawford


Sandra Crawford

Sandra Crawford is a writer, painter and traveler. She and her husband “full time” and have discovered the what was going to be a quick two or three-year cross country adventure has become a passionate lifestyle. She has spent three summers in Yellowstone National Park and its close environs. Crawford’s dry wit comes through in all her prose.

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