My family and I arrived in West Yellowstone after a couple exhausting days of travel. Our transfer flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City had left us unenthusiastic about our long drive up to Montana. However, the bawling babies and altitude adjustments were definitely worth tolerating for this trip. The tourist town of West Yellowstone looked like something out of an old Western film. Being from Ohio, it immediately reminded me of Frontiertown at Cedar Point. This quaint village was directly on the border of Yellowstone, making our commute to the park leisurely.
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During our first day at the oldest national park, we were amazed by how many animals we saw right by the West entrance. The bison were everywhere. It seemed as if the rangers corralled all the bison to the entrance so people would be initially amazed. However, this vast number of bison was consistent throughout the rest of the park. Although they did not appear productive to the naked eye, they were certainly not tolerate of goofing around. The safe distance from a bison is twenty-five yards.
Speaking of bison safety, I got to experience first-hand why no one should mess with these enormous creatures. In Salt Lake City, I was going on a sweltering run on Antelope Island. While I was on my return, a bison about the size of a standard minivan crossed the path and lied down about five feet off of it. At this point I was not informed of the regulation safe distance from a bison. Instead of stopping at twenty-five yards away, I ran within about fifteen feet of the monstrous creature until deciding it was smart to stop. The rest of my family, being much more mature and much less adventurous, had stopped more than fifty feet away from the bison. To avoid an inconvenient and time consuming goring, we opted to go in a diagonal around my new friend. From that day on, I have been known throughout the country as the Bison Whisperer.
Although I did not get the same quality bison time in Yellowstone, the brown behemoths in this park were just as bold. Many times on the way out of the park, the traffic delays were even worse than the ones we experienced at home. However, bison herds are much different than road construction projects. For one, bison are not part of a union. Unlike government workers, bison are not paid to take up space on already crowded roads. They have to do this laborious work all without pay. Therefore, the risk of being attacked by frustrated and underpaid bison on the freeway is much higher in Yellowstone than in Ohio. Regardless, we were still able to tap into our inner tourist and get some footage of unrealistically large bison herds crossing the road.
There were many aspects of the trip that worked, and even more that did not. For example, we realized that stopping at every hot spot was not the way to truly enjoy the park. Although all of them were given extremely intriguing and curious names, they often did not live up to their titles. One thing that did work, however, was the hiking trails around the canyon. This canyon provided breath-taking views and surreal waterfalls. It is easy to see why so many people visit this enormous park every year.
This trip taught me respect for the environment. Yellowstone’s natural beauty and vast landscapes changed my idea of protecting this wild land. The sheer elegance of the land is enough to make anyone see that the environment is certainly worth preserving.
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