Embrace the Delays and Enjoy the Scenery

Eighteen hours into a twenty-hour road trip from our door to Yellowstone’s South Entrance, my high spirits tumbled at the sight of a sign. A happy-looking sign, it cast a shadow on my plan to get off the road and onto the trail as quickly as possible. It read: Expect delays and great scenery. It was a road construction sign in disguise. And I understood why. In Iowa, where I live, open roads and flat terrain allow travelers in construction zones to slow more often than stop. When a full stop is required, it’s usually short, and governed by a {Continue Reading}

One Truth for Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain by Faith

From the trailhead, the narrow, uneven path took us up a short, steep incline between towering pines. The road below and the river beyond were visible between their trunks. Lodgepoles, their growing habits produced tall, straight poles topped by comparatively tiny Christmas trees and created a sheltering canopy over the trail. At the top of the slope the path turned away from the traffic and entered an entirely different forest, this one dense and silent. Here the trees were young and full to the ground—all born from Yellowstone’s Fires of 1988. We walked—my husband and I—side-by-side on an earthen path {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone | Preparing for a Satisfying Visit

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” ~ William Shakespeare, Henry V After a summer of working in Yellowstone, a lifetime of return weeklong visits, and years of talking with friends about their upcoming or completed trip to the park, I’ve figured something out: There is a difference between planning a trip and preparing for one. A satisfying visit to Yellowstone requires both. Planning involves itineraries and reservations and details. I am a planner and believe this is a good and helpful thing, especially in a place like Yellowstone, where there aren’t a lot of hotels or roads {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone Favorites | Picnic Areas

“He’s a good big brother, helping his little sisters like that,” said an older woman as she walked past us.  “Thanks,” mumbled both my husband and I.  Our kids were playing together—quite happily—along the shore of the Firehole River while we made our lunch at a nearby picnic table. Only moments before, they’d been bickering and I’d been wondering how I would survive their childhood, so we decided to get off the road.  It was a good decision. They ran off some energy and I enjoyed some peace. They remembered that they were friends and my husband and I recalled {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone in Spring | What to Expect

It took just one trip to Yellowstone for my husband to discover that my beliefs about its weather are–in a word–delusional.  It began the night before our first vacation. The next morning, as soon as he finished his last exam of his senior year, we aimed to head west. That night, though, he was studying and I was packing. At some point, he walked out of his study and into the living room, looked at what I’d assembled and asked, “Do you think we should bring our winter gear?” I stared at him like he was an intruder who had just {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone Tour | Five Entrances

My husband and I are in the midst of planning a trip to Yellowstone for this fall and, as always, one of us asked this question:” Which entrance should we go in? ” This was followed almost immediately by, “Which one should we go out?” Yellowstone has five entrances. We’ve used them all. We have our favorites. This year, we’ll be driving in over the Beartooth Highway and entering through the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City. When we’re done, we’ll be leaving through the South Entrance and driving home through the Tetons. (In case you were wondering, yes, the exits {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone Favorites| Five Must Stops

  After a summer of working in Yellowstone and close to forty years of near-annual visits to the park, a trip to Yellowstone feels like going home. This is at once a blessing and a curse. With so many places to revisit, check in on, and catch up with,  it’s hard to branch out to  new things. My favorites are simple. They represent Yellowstone and what draws me back, again and again. They are water, wildlife, and wilderness. Without them, a visit to Yellowstone would feel incomplete. A long stop at the Old Faithful Historic District | I once spent a summer {Continue Reading}

Yellowstone Favorites | Short Hikes

Because each of our children made their first visit to Yellowstone early in life, we are well-acquainted with the park’s short trails. There is a limit to how far the little ones can walk, especially in the mountains, where the trails almost always seem to go straight up and down. One guideline I came across for how far kids can hike is this: one half-mile for every year of age. Count on this being less, or at least at a slower pace, on trails with ascents or descents. By temperament, I am hard pressed to even choose a favorite food, {Continue Reading}

Tracks in the Snow

The twelve-passenger van made its way down Yellowstone’s snow-covered road not on traditional tires, but on treads meant to traverse the groomed roadway. Gone were the crowds and the fly fishermen of fall, replaced by seas of white broken by swaths of evergreen and dots of brown, bison in search of last year’s grass to fill their bellies. Two adult trumpeter swans, their arched necks highlighted against the steamy Firehole River, swam alongside a grey cygnet, all camouflaged by the white of the snow and the deep of the water. A cow elk foraged alone for food on a hillside and a {Continue Reading}