Yellowstone – has it changed in 17 years?
Somewhat, yes. This week we revisited this park that we loved so much 17 years ago on our first RV trip.
The park information confirms there have been constant changes – ones that we wouldn’t have noticed unless they were pointed out. (We would need a better memory.)
This is the North American center of active volcanic activity. So, of course, we expect everything to shift and change frequently and rapidly.
Some of the springs, pools, mudpots, fumerals and gysers have become more active (and some less so). Consequently, flows, temperatures, and colors have changed, too. In 2008, the park had to close a part of the Norris Basin trails when ground temperatures nearly reached the boiling point.
More concern about bears!
And other more noticeable changes:
- Even off season, the park is so busy that we had to wait from 15 to 45 minutes to get a parking spot at most of the major overlooks and basin parking lots.
- Rest room lineups were almost as bad – glad we have our own with us!
- Precautions for bears have changed. The park is grisly territory and 17 years ago, we were told they were mainly contained in the north east part of the park. We had a back country permit that year, which entailed attending a mandatory bear safety session. Bear spray or other weapons were not mentioned or suggested back then. Today, bear safety sessions are offered daily and visitors are encouraged to attend, even for a day-hike. They want all hikers to carry bear spray and know how to use it. You can buy or rent it at every park store and visitor center.
We camped outside the park every night last time we were here. That meant we drove nearly 500 miles within 3 days to see the park’s main features.
This time, we spent 4 days and 3 nights but splurged on a $20 per night campsite. We were lucky to find a first-come, first-served campsite at Norris Campground, a central location so we made that our home base. We still drove 310 miles within the park and I think we walked and hiked roughly 30 miles.
Then there was the weather…
The weather wasn’t the best. Two cold and wet days and two others that were cold and miserable. (In mid- June). We even had snow! But we made the best of it. Happy that we have such a warm little home on wheels.
Wildlife Everywhere – But do you think we could get a photo?
The Bison are plentiful and slow moving – perfect for photos. Although we weren’t quick enough to grab our camera, we saw many other of the parks animals. Elk, pronghorns, a mama bear and two cubs, a wolf, and several marmots.
Too many waterfalls to show you all of them…
With so many reasons to love this very large, very diverse park, probably our second to favorite is the waterfalls.
And most spectacular of all….
The canyon for which the park is named.
We still LOVE the park. But we also wonder if, like Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and too many others, Yellowstone now risks being “loved to death”. What will the park be like in another 17 years, we wonder.
Days on the road at time of posting: 96
Total camping costs to date: $149