There is nothing quite like waking up in Yellowstone National Park. It is invigorating to walk outside, smell the fresh mountain air, and know that there is an entire national park just waiting to be explored. Due to the size and scope of Yellowstone, its not hard to believe a family could spend months in the park and see something new and amazing every single day. Unfortunately, we only had three days so had to make the best of our time.
Our day began with water and canyons. We drove through the Tower-Roosevelt region, trying our best to take in the vast scenery that dominated our windshield. We paused at roadside overlooks and gazed at water plunging further into the landscape. Everything was so big, so perfect, so much more than I could have ever dreamed.
As we drove towards the Roosevelt Lodge (we had scheduled a stagecoach tour at their stables), we saw a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road. In true lemming fashion, we pulled over and started searching the roadside in hopes of seeing something special. Suddenly something dark started moving in the grass. It was a black bear! We excitedly pointed the animal out to our kids from the safety of our car. After a couple minutes of watching and picture taking, we noticed something else moving in the grass. Out popped two little cubs! Adorable doesn't even begin to describe those precious little babies. Seeing the mamma bear and her little ones was the highlight of our wildlife encounters for the entire 24 day trip.
After mamma and twins retreated back up into the cover of the forest we headed on over to the stables to wait for our stagecoach ride. Back in Vancouver I had promised Mari that Daddy would take her on a horse when he joined us and she had not forgotten. As a matter of fact, she had reminded me every day. As we quickly found out, there is no place in Yellowstone where kids under age 7 can ride horses. Luckily there is a stagecoach ride that all ages can be a participate in. The stagecoaches are accurate reproductions of those that came through Yellowstone back in the 1800s. It was fun to ride out into the sagebrush and pretend like we were coming out west for the first time. We even had our first bison sighting while out on our ride. I can't imagine a better way to see the bison of Yellowstone than on an Old West stagecoach.
After our ride (which fully satisfied Mari's desires to "ride" a horse) we headed towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. By this time the kids were tired and passed out in the car so Paul and I took turns hiking down the steep (but paved) trail which lead to the brink of Lower Falls. The view from the edge of the falls was overwhelming. Jut peering over the rails and into all that water 300 feet below gave me the chills. The Yellowstone River seems to just plunge into an abyss.
People were not the only visitors of these amazing falls. Giant bugs hovered around the brink of the waterfall like idol worshippers. It was completely bizarre. I had never seen insects like these before and even after a bit of online research, I still have no idea what kind of bugs they are or why they are there. If anyone has any info, please share. I am dying to know more!
We ended our day with a drive through the Hayden Valley. It was one of the most picturesque spots I have ever been in my life. The valley is filled with rivers, meadows, and pockets of forest, all teeming with wildlife. If I were a bison, I would most certainly want to live here. We decided that we would certainly have to return to the valley the next day around sunset so we could further enjoy its wildlife and beauty. Until next time, here are a few shots we got that first day, with many more to come.
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