As a teenager I vehemently protest any attempts whatsoever to get me out of bed before 11:00 A.M., I consider this a longstanding tradition that I have upheld since the age of ten. My parents are the type who always took trips to National Parks rather than Disney World or say, Universal. While I have not always appreciated these trips, one that I have never second guessed is the trip my family and I took to Yellowstone National Park. My vehement protests were rudely neglected when my family and I would wake up at 4:00 A.M. to go look for wildlife, including the rarely spotted wolf packs that inhabit the National Park.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
While we had previously traveled to Yellowstone National Park, my family had participated in what might be considered the more "touristy" aspects of the park and therefore felt we had to return to experience the more intimate aspects of the park. On our first trip we had learned that during the early years of the park, visitors would tour the park by way of stagecoach and in order to accommodate these visitors, a number of hotels were erected at relatively regular distances along the main trail. My family and I decided to re-enact this pilgrimage of sorts. We traveled from Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel to Lake Yellowstone Hotel. The views from the first hotel alone were enough to captivate any visitor. Deer roamed the lawns of Mammoth Springs and a rather large Bison met us at the entrance of Lake Yellowstone Hotel. The mountains surrounding me, which were obviously inanimate objects, were so immense that I felt intimidated by them. Something that I have learned from visiting National Parks is that the nature preserved in them is so much bigger than any human, or anything a human could ever make because they have stood not only the test of time, but also are thoroughly authentic, being created by Mother Nature.
Our adventures proceeded on to the Canyon Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn, while I also briefly stayed at the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. I found Canyon Lodge rather uninteresting…perhaps it was due to the 13 hour hike I had recently completed. To me it looked as if it had been taken out of the Las Vegas strip in the 70s. I much preferred the Old Faithful Inn and the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. Talk about intimidating, when I entered the Old Faithful Inn I had to stop for a moment and look up at the over 50 ft. beams that lined the ceiling and the rest of the solely wood structure. Its amazing to consider that craftsmanship and architecture of this sort was done with the technology and tools of the early 20th century. I was lucky to stay in a room that looked directly out onto the famous geyser named Old Faithful for its consistent, timely, eruption. I mean how man places do you find holes in the ground that blow water 120 feet in the air!
It is hard to describe all the nature that I saw as we would drive from lodge to lodge. I saw everything from black bears to wolf packs, and bison roamed everywhere. I received the scare of a lifetime when trying to take a picture of a bison, at first I thought I was accidently zooming in with the camera, but much to my surprise the bison was charging straight for me! I have never run so fast in my life as I did at that moment. The mountains such as El Capitan (named for the way it looks like a man with a cap on) appeared to touch the sky, and waterfalls were immense and appeared to continue on forever. Some waterfalls created rainbows as they fell. Sage plants lined the ground everywhere and bison, although once endangered, roam in herds. There were antelope and deer with full racks.
I doubt that I will ever be able to experience quite like Yellowstone. The natural world that I was exposed to there, and the deep history that it seemed to contain in its rolling hills is truly one of a kind. I have such fond memories of the people I met and the places I stayed at this park. It was this trip that taught me that I was not missing anything by visiting National Parks instead of Theme Parks. I have some advice for anyone who takes the same trip: stay as long as you can and visit as many of the original lodges as possible! It makes for the best, most scenic, and most educational stay. I hope to return to Yellowstone National Park in the near future.
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