Late last night after a 14-hour drive I returned home from Yellowstone National Park, which I had never experienced before. The world’s first national park, Yellowstone is in the northwest corner of Wyoming and a couple of strips of Montana and Idaho.
My month-long trip took me 3,600 miles to experience three wilderness areas and three national parks. On my way back from my High Sierra trek I stopped once in each of the four states en route, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
My stop in Wyoming was the greatest en route back from California. It fulfilled the three wishes for experiences I hoped to have in Yellowstone.
The easiest wish to fulfill was to be able to stay and eat at Old Faithful Inn, a historic rustic-style lodge right next to the world famous Old Faithful Geyser. Completed in 1904, the Inn is either the largest or second largest log building in the world and uses lodgepole pine and rhyolite stone. Architect Robert Reamer designed the hotel asymmetrically to reflect the chaos of nature.
Ever since I saw the 2002 PBS series on the “Great Lodges of the National Parks” and bought the companion book of the same name, I wanted to experience the Inn. The book shows Old Faithful Inn on its cover and opens with an extensive description of it.
Inside the Inn the scale is huge. This is just a small part of the lobby:
Capturing the famous eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser was a bit harder. I just missed it the first time and caught only the tail end the second time. It spews steam 180 feet high about every 92 minutes, but I relied on some bad information:
Finally, just at sunset on at my third visit to Old Faithful I succeeded:
I knew that my third wish to experience in Yellowstone National Park would be the hardest. But I very much wanted to see and photograph for the first time a bear in the wild. I especially wanted a photograph of a grizzly.
A ranger told me that my best chance of seeing a bear would be in the Hayden Valley, so one morning I left Old Faithful at 8 a.m. on what I expected would be a short drive. But the park is immense. Yellowstone is the heart of the largest remaining continuous stretch of mostly undeveloped pristine land in the continental United States, and I didn’t arrive back at the Inn until 6 p.m.
Actually, I had given up hope of seeing a bear until I encountered a huge traffic jam. I thought it was an accident, but I pulled over and got out with my camera anyway. And there down from the road a young grizzly was grazing.
We were too close. Rangers were all around, saying that we had to stay back 250 yards for our own safety.
With this sighting of the young grizzly bear I fulfilled all my wishes for my expedition to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way I experienced still more, the subject of the next photo essay.