Perhaps our nation’s most iconic national park, Yellowstone National Park, was not originally on our itinerary this year. We had planned to follow our son’s advice and stop at Glacier NP on our way west. During his trip there in 2013 he immediately sent me a text which said, “Glacier needs to move to the top of your bucket list NOW!” But, alas, the summer of 2015 was a terrible wildfire season for Glacier, so we decided to head south to Yellowstone,……along with everybody else! The park saw very high visitor attendance, in main part due to the wildfires which changed many plans.
We checked into Yellowstone RV Park in Gardiner, MT, after trying unsuccessfully to camp at some free/low cost national forest land—it was packed! With several hours of daylight left, we decided to explore the northern part of the park where the Mammoth Hot Springs are located. What a fascinating place! After stopping at the Albright Visitor Center and getting my national parks passport stamped, we hopped back in the truck to drive to the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. There are miles of trails and boardwalks that can take you up close to the hot springs. You can see the steam rising, mud boiling, and the devastation that happened in previous years when the pressure built up and exploded. Something else you can’t experience via pictures is the smell! Hot, burning sulfur! Not a pleasant scent!
It was interesting to us to learn that the main visitor center area was originally an Army post. In 1886, the Secretary of the Interior requested that the Army come in to Yellowstone to help with the problems of poaching, vandalism, and squatters. You can see the parade grounds and many of the red roofed buildings were part of Fort Yellowstone.
And no stop to the northern entrance of the park would be complete without some photos of “The Roosevelt Arch.” In the early 1900’s, President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting the park and placed the cornerstone for the arch. It was then named, “Roosevelt Arch.”