Yellowstone National Park, WY
Bunsen Peak, Clear Lake Trail with Point Sublime Spur
The next leg of our trip took us west from South Dakota to Wyoming, with short stops at Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower National Monument on the way.
We drove in painfully early from Cody, WY to claim a first-come-first-served campsite, but it gave us the opportunity to witness the misty stillness of Yellowstone at first light. By the time we set up camp, the staff, signage, and literature had instilled in us the fear of wayward bears, so we carefully stashed anything with a remote scent in the designated lockers. (There’s a really interesting - if not somewhat disturbing - episode of Fresh Air that lays out the park’s drastically different bear-human dynamic of the 50’s and 60’s.)
The contrast between Yellowstone and Badlands was immediate and overwhelming. In many ways it felt like we’d arrived at the Disneyland of the National Park system. Yellowstone is so vast that it has its own internal highway system (which is regularly clogged by bison crossings) and a significant amount of daily driving is a necessary evil for visitors looking to get even a cursory view of the park. With that being said, I was still surprised by the number of visitors dressed clearly to do only that – drive between attractions accessible via boardwalk from the road.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was undoubtedly one of the most amazing features of the park. The sides of the canyon are washed in shades of orange and pink as a result of hydrothermal activity, creating an incredible kaleidoscopic landscape.