Yellowstone and I took a day or two to warm up to each other.
Coming from wide-open, deserted space for days, the tourist-crowded landscape of the country’s first national park felt a bit claustrophobic – and I was there off-season.
I managed to find some quiet snatches, however, between the monstrous, exhaust-belching bodies of tour buses and the scramble of selfie sticks.
Early morning and early evening are the prime hours in any park – and the quietest. If you want a national park to yourself, stay up late enough to shoot the stars and then wake before the sun.
My first night in the park, I woke up right next to Old Faithful and watched the sun rise through the pungent smoke of the geysers, which mostly finished the warming-up process that had started the evening before when I’d first wandered through the geyser basin and its bubbling, colorful pools and sputtering mud.
Bison roam the park, of course, causing frequent traffic jams, but since I’d grown accustomed to waking up at my private camping spots in the middle of national forests with a couple buffalo, elk, or coyote wandering through during breakfast and no people, selfie-sticks, or belching buses around, the crowded park felt a bit like a zoo.
The National Parks continually amaze me with the vastness and incredibly huge range of diversity in this country, and even though I have wandered through a lot of them during the past couple of months, no two have seemed even remotely alike and each one has its own particular language, colors, and flair.