The first established National Park in the world! The largest National Park in the United States! A showcase of the famous Old Faithful Geyser! Home to half of the world’s geothermal features! A shelter for the oldest and largest bison herd in the United States! This and many more claims were being boasted of by Yellowstone National Park. So off we eager tourists went, to find out for ourselves … and we were not disappointed. Let me recount the reasons one by one.
First, we drove through Grand Teton National Park and just as we came down Signal Mountain with its yellow wildflower-covered side and breathtaking vistas, what should we get but a rare sighting of two grizzly bears! The two siblings played with each other in the mellow evening light, cavorting, rolling in the grass and wrestling with each other. Then late at night, we entered Yellowstone. Courage-swallowing darkness all around, the moon illuminating barely discernible shapes of trees, hills, plains. The car headlights only showing the immediate road ahead of us snaking through the dark forest when we – with a thrill passing through us – saw them, the ghosts of Yellowstone rising silently from the ground all around us.
The next day, we set out to cover what we had only glimpsed the night before – the main geothermal and volcanic attractions of the Park. This honor was taken up first by Old Faithful Geyser with its predictable eruption of boiling water and steam being hurled to great heights. This outburst went on for a few minutes until it began to die down. But Mother Earth still had a few tricks up her sleeve because some distance away, Beehive Geyser started to fume and sputter, sending out a stream of water with full force. And after it ended, up flew a third one. What luck! Three geysers in a row, one after the other, as if set off in sequence like synchronized fireworks. The ground nearby hissed, bubbled and boiled with fumaroles, geysers, mudpots and hot springs in a variety of shapes and vivid colors.
The second major point of interest was my favorite – Grand Prismatic Spring. Even from a distance, we could see that something was different. The vapors rising from it had a faint blue hue to them. Viewing it from ground-level was like only being able to look at an elegantly constructed bridge while standing on it. We simply had to get the whole picture even if it meant taking the difficult route by climbing a hill nearby.
Was it a dream? In the flat skin of the landscape below, a beautiful, gaping wound made up of a bright swimming-pool-blue center, bordered by vibrant emerald and yellow, oozing streams of brilliant oranges! Drinking in this surreal sight and yet feeling I could not get enough of it, I reluctantly tore my eyes away as we left the elevated platform to further explore the smoking area around it.
The next day, under dark rain-soaked clouds, we made a leap into lush green Lamar valley with plenty of bison herds. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone came next bringing with it thundering Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls. But the icing on the cake was yet to come. Towards evening, as the rain began to slow down, we drove through picturesque Hayden valley to Yellowstone lake when we came upon a double rainbow, one end of which reached right down to the water. They say that there exists a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. That day, we definitely left enriched by the whole scene – a colorful band curving gracefully to meet the tree-lined shore against a backdrop of wispy black clouds with golden sunlight shining on it all and everything around wearing a fresh, newborn look after the cleansing showers from heaven.
The final day of our trip was reserved for a motorboat ride in lake Jackson at Grand Teton National Park and I must say, I have never seen such ruggedly handsome mountains as the Grand Teton range. With a face consisting of sharp, chiseled features adorned with the pristine whites of leftover winter snow, they stand sturdy and authoritative, overlooking the plains and water bodies around them.
And so, it was with a contented heart that we wrapped up the trip, happy with what dear old Yellowstone had to offer us.