Why Yellowstone is the best of the National Parks.
Just because you’re first doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best. But there is a reason why Yellowstone was named the first national park on March 1, 1872 by President Ulysses Grant. Its biodiversity and geologic wonders are what grabbed the attention of Congress through the photos and paintings of Jackson and Moran respectively during the 1871 Hayden Expedition into Yellowstone. What makes Yellowstone unique is its 67 species of wildlife, 322 species of birds, 16 species of fish, eleven hundred species of flowering plants, 7 species of conifers, over 10,000 geothermal features including more than 300 geysers(half of Earth’s total), approximately 300 waterfalls, beautiful, crystal clear rivers and one gigantic caldera. No national park has all of these natural resources to offer including those in Alaska. Below are images that capture the diversity of Yellowstone.
Grand Prismatic Spring, North America’s largest at 370 feet in diameter.
Bright colors are produced by microorganisms called thermophiles living in the hot waters of Chromatic Spring.
Castle Geyser steams on a cold morning.
Old Faithful is still faithful
Where else would you find these travertine terraces?
Or these colors in nature.
The landscape is always changing as trees come and go for a variety of reasons.
A Storm Passes Through Black Sand Geyser Basin
Punch Bowl Spring
Imperial Geyser appears out of nowhere.
And the wildlife…….
Bull elk bugling during rutting season.
Bull bison must prove their manhood during the rut.
Ursus Arctos Horribilis (Grizzly Bear)
This moose is smiling because she’s in her favorite park.
This badger was so focused on the hunt, it was unaware I was standing 50 feet away.
Herd of bison moving at night
The river otter patrols the cool waters of the Yellowstone River
A coyote waits patiently along the Yellowstone River to surprise a river otter and its catch.
The reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone has produced excitement for visitors if not controversy. But what other park tried this?
The red fox is mostly nocturnal but frequently visible during the winter daylight.
Bison endure the harshness of Yellowstone’s winters. Barely.
Elk herd heading to higher ground.
Adult bald eagles are one bird who may stay in the park year round.
No head butting allowed with the wildlife please.
Black Bear foraging.
Pronghorn are North America’s fastest mammals reaching speeds up to 60 mph.
Trumpeter swans are very visible during Yellowstone winters.
An osprey peers into a river below for its next catch.
Great Blue Heron
The Firehole River is one of many fantastic waterways in Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone River carved The Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone flows north out of the park.
The Lamar River on a snowy day in late April?
Tower Falls is one of many falls in the park, too numerous to count and still being discovered.
There’s a reason why over 3 million people visit Yellowstone each year.
This cub was taking baby steps at 3 months old.
These tourists look rather insignificant in the steam and fog.
Beehive Geyser gushes amongst the throngs.
The lobby at The Old Faithful Inn. Some rooms here don’t have bathrooms. You have to go down the hall. Must have been a palace when it first opened in 1904. Still is.
Only some 100,000 visit the park in the winter.
Yellowstone has nice sunsets even at a fire-scarred forest.
We camped here at Grebe Lake for two nights, listening to the unmistakable sounds of the loons and coyotes.
Classic winter sunset.
And the flora…….
Colorful wildflowers like the Camas.
White-rayed Mule’s Ears
The rare Coville’s Columbine
Bison grazing on wildflowers in Lamar Valley
It’s not smoke from a forest fire but morning fog trapped in a lodgepole pine forest.
Speaking of fog, how about a fogbow.
Thick snow-covered forests stretch beyond the horizon.
A rising sun struggles to penetrate the morning fog.
A lonely pine
stands out from the steamy landscape at West Thumb Geyser Basin
The high country of Yellowstone.
Standing on the top of Electric Peak will make your hair raise..
The next time you visit Yellowstone, the natives will be watching you.