Do you have a favorite national park?  Which is it?  Please join the fun by voting in the poll below.

Without question, my vote goes to Yellowstone National Park.  To see the absolute best that mother nature has to offer, you simply must see Yellowstone.  It has everything– the most amazing landscapes with mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, forests, valleys, all teeming with wildlife, and geysers, mudpots, and fumaroles thrown in for good measure.  In fact, Yellowstone has more geysers than everywhere else in the world combined, according to the ranger that led us on a geyser walk at Old Faithful.  Established in 1872 and dedicated by President U. S. Grant, Yellowstone was the first national park in the United States and in the entire world.  It’s that remarkable.

Yellowstone is the eighth largest national park in the U.S. (the top 6 are in Alaska and number 7 is Death Valley), 63 miles long from the north border to the south and 54 miles from east to west, and 3472 square miles.  Just the drive in and out each day from hotels outside the park takes considerable time. I tried to find accommodations in the park months before our trip with no success. On a whim, I called the reservations number the morning of our arrival in September, 2013, and the Lake Yellowstone Hotel had a room for 2 nights. What serendipity! The oldest operating hotel in the park, the Lake Hotel was built in 1891 and is on the list of national historic places.  It’s currently in the process of a massive refurbishment and we were fortunate to get a room in the yet unrefurbished section for $200 per night. They told us the rate would be $339 per night after renovations are complete, which is outside my travel budget so we’re lucky to have stayed when we did.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

What a great experience to stay in this iconic hotel with such historic and elegant ambiance.  I loved having no television but admittedly suffered with no internet.  We took the free tour of the hotel and because it was just days before the end of season, we were the only two people on our tour.  We hit it off right away with our guide, a retired woman from Oregon who tried to recruit us to work in the park before the tour was over.  The tour essentially covered expansions, additions, and renovations to the hotel but we were particularly interested to hear about the recovery of one of the historic touring cars.  The 11 passenger touring car with a removable canvas top was produced by White Motor Company replacing the stagecoach or surrey to provide tours within the park. Private vehicles were allowed in the park beginning in 1915 but use was strongly discouraged and the admission cost was prohibitive.  Today the restored touring car is used once again to provide tours allowing the guest to focus on watching wildlife rather than the road.  With over 3.6 million visitors each year, that’s a good thing.

Touring car at Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Touring car at Lake Yellowstone Hotel


Today, there are 67 species of mammals in Yellowstone and all species of large mammals that were present when Europeans first explored this territory have been restored to the park.  Wild bison have inhabited the area continuously, the largest concentration of elk in the world is here, a large grizzly bear population is protected in the park, and the gray wolf was reintroduced in the area in 1995.  We saw plenty of bison and elk and even saw a bear but the pictures I took couldn’t capture it so far back in the trees.

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10 thoughts on “Yellowstone

  1. I have been to several National Parks and I agree with you that Yellowstone tops the list. I am not sure that any other park has the diversity within it —-there is just so much to see. I am a huge fan of waterfalls (Your picture is picture perfect, btw) and those are always ticked off the list when we visit a park. People can be quite dense when it comes to animals in places like this, can’t they. We have had the privilege of seeing many without having to risk life and limb in the process. One of our fun memories when we took our boys years ago was getting caught in a buffalo jam. I was driving and fortunately was alert enough to see it coming. We just sat and waited, and waited, and waited. 🙂
    Great recap of a wonderful place. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment, Beth Ann. It’s really fun to share these sights with children, isn’t it? I have to admit, though, it’s great not to have to go in summer when the crowds are thickest! Thanks, too, for sharing my post. How kind of you.

  2. Virginia

    My daughter Allison worked at Yellowstone one summer – I flew out to meet her at summer’s end and we drove back to Florida together. It was a wonderful time. Allison was my Yellowstone tour guide and we had an amazing time there – including a lovely afternoon nap on a picnic table!
    We also went to the Grand Canyon on our way back home – another fabulous treat.
    But my vote would have to go to Yellowstone – for its beautiful self and for the memories of time with Allison that it evokes.

    • What a great experience to have your daughter who knows the park from the inside as your personal tour guide. Great memory! Thanks for sharing, Virginia.

  3. Anonymous

    I have loved the Grand Tetons since I first saw them in 1978. They rise so majestically above the valley without foothills. I have visited them 7 times over the years, including two months ago. I visit both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons whenever I go.

  4. Anonymous

    Yellowstone has to be one of the top two places we love. We have visited at least four times and wish we could go again. It is peaceful and exciting all at the same time. We stayed in Yellowstone Lodge also but in one of the cabins on site which provide a much more reasonable budget. Very comfortable but tiny. We also learned that if you call while close to the park around 8:30 or 9 many of the in park housing places will have rooms available due to people changing their itineraries. Having said that I think our favorite park is Glacier which provides such awe inspiring views of the totally different mountains. I hope that the roads there don’t get beyond access due to high traffic volume however. They do have some older touring cars that will transport and I would recommend that to people especially the “driver” of your vehicle. There is no room for gawking for them.

    • Ahh, we do love Glacier. The first time we were there in 1977 or 78 was before the road had been improved and it was absolutely terrifying! I was so glad when I went back that the roads were much better but still a thrill a minute around those hairpin curves.
      I’ll keep that cabin recommendation in mind for next time. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Phyllis Mulkey

    I went to Yellowstone Park as a child with my parents and an aunt and uncle, so my memories of it are VERY old. We all stayed in a little cabin with two beds, and I had to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag…..or should say “tried to sleep” because two bears were rolling garbage cans around and scattering trash all over right outside our cabin….. I was certain they were going to come in and eat us, and my Dad convinced me that he was tougher than any bear. From then on, my Mom told me that fudge is “ready” when it looks like the bubbling mud pots in Yellowstone…….. And I think of that every time I make fudge!

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