Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Sojourn...

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Last year a friend and I did what all good settlers did in the 1800, we packed up and headed West.  Not in search of riches but to visit a friend.  One of the places we all visited was Yellowstone and if you have not been for a visit I would highly recommend you put it on your "to do" list.  Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first National Park. 

There are five entrances to it's 2.2 million acres of wilderness and you can drive through the park on the over 350 miles of roadway.  The original entrance is in Gardiner, Montana, and the only one open year-round, its framed by the Roosevelt Arch.  Erected in1903, the 50 feet high monument is made of locally quarried basalt, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the corner stone while he was on vacation in the park himself.

First things first, you will need a place to stay.  All the hotel rooms within the park are booked through US Park Lodging and you can view pictures of all the places to stay at their web site.  There are 9 separate lodging options within Yellowstone National Park, including hotels, lodges and cabins and they fill up quickly, you should book at least 6 - 7 months in advance if at all possible, the parks site suggests a year in advance. 

We stayed overnight in the Old Faithful Inn, a historic building that was originally built in 1904. The grand lobby, known as the “Old House,” is one of the largest log structures in the world.  Because we had a party of four we had the opportunity to see both the historic rooms in the old wing and the "updated" rooms in the new section.  My personal favorite was the historic section which I always enjoy at any hotel.  The down side to the historic section is that most of them do not have their own bath and you will have to share one with the people staying in that hallway section.  The newer section has private bathrooms but it feels more like a church basement than the historic hotel it is.  If you are looking to be closer to nature consider one of the pack trips or a day rides.  These are great for learing more about the animals, plants and geology of the area or finding great spots to fish.  There are also 12 campgrounds of various types located in the park, everything from generator free sites to RV parking.  There is a great listing to all the places to stay at All Yellowstone Park.  I was able to find a deal on lodging:

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park Areas, WY – Save 15% on lodging at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson Hole on any stay of one night or more that overlaps a Fee-Free Day during 2010. To redeem this offer, call 307-739-0808 and mention “National Park Fee-Free Days”. Cannot be combined with other offers. Note" These are not located in the park, (which will also save you the Park Sales Tax in Yellowstone).  Don't forget too that this is a Hilton so you have earn Hhonors points.

When it comes to dining options you are a little limited but the food from most of the places is good. For our one nights dinner we chose the Old Faithful Snow Lodge Obsidian Dining Room.  They have a nice menu that includes things like Bison ribs and Buffalo burgers.  I had a chance to try wild boar and it was fantastic, the best pork I have ever had.  You can get a really good idea of what other travelers experiences have been at the other restaurants in the park at Trip Advisor.

You can get into the park in a car for just a $25.00 entrance pass that is good for 7 days. Remember to keep your admission receipt in order to re-enter the parks.  If you are entering on foot, on a bike or on a motorcycle the individual 7 day pass is $12.00, it is also $12.00 per person for larger groups but children under 15 are admitted free.  The National Parks also host Fee-Free Days and in 2011 the dates include National Park Week; the first day of summer, June 21; Public Lands Day, Sept. 24; and the Veteran’s Day weekend, Nov. 11 – 13.  You can also find some additional free and discounted days at Travel Video News, including some more discounts on camping and hotel options.
So what do do once you are in the park?  Be ready to hike a little, there is so much to see!  Of course everyone likes to see Old Faithful, but actually its just one of about 10,000 thermal features located through the park and only one of the over 500 geysers.  There are actually a few in the park that are able to be timed for visitors to watch.  Also included in the thermal features are the Paint Pots and Hot Springs located thought the park.  The Paint Pots are heated mud that bubbles up from the ground making strange noises and beautiful colors, the Hot Springs are full of different minerals and cause many of them to be almost other worldly in color.  There is also the local wildlife, both Grizzly and Black Bear make the park their home, as well as coyote, Wolf, Elk, Pronghorn, Fox, Bald Eagle, Heron, Moose, and Swans, and of course Buffalo, just to name a few.  I found a really nice interactive map at Max Waugh's guide services web sites, it allows you to click on an animal an it will show up on the map so you can find where it most likely will be in the park.  The one that kept us all amused was the Magpie, not something we get to see here where I live and they would swoop by while we were driving. 

There is just so much more for wildlife, history, activities and just all-around fun than I have room for in this post.  If you have been to Yellowstone please let us know what your favorite part of your vacation was and what fun things you saw and did.  I hope you are all having a great weekend so far!


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  1. what a trip!! I have yet to visit Yellowstone ~ ~ awesome tips!

  2. I so love your picture of the North Entrance. We all had such fun laughing and goofing around. This is a really good post about Yellowstone. I would think it would make people want to flock there.


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