Visiting Yellowstone Nationalpark we decided quite spontaneously – it hasn’t been on our Bucketlist at first, but as we met Brentley from Vancouver („…there I saw the weirdest things in my life“) we knew, we need to go there. So we thought: “Oh well, we are quite near” (which is a lie, because there isn’t a word like “near” existing in the U.S.) and we really don’t want to miss this piece of nature. So instead of driving along the coast from Seattle to San Francisco, which we are pretty sure is very nice (but there is one thing you learn while traveling for sure: there is no way to see and do everything – it’s just not gonna happen), we make the trip to Yellowstone Nationalpark in Wyoming. Including the hours we need to drive to San Francisco equals this very little number of 2.697 km – but no problem for us, because we loooove roadtrips! And what do you need for the perfect roadtrip? A nice car. And since we are in the U.S., we decide to take one of these typical American cars: a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The nice lady from Alamo, the car rental station we booked at, gave us a special price after negotiating for… wait, 2 minutes. 70$ more for the next car level sounds like a good deal to us. And hey, sometimes you just need to waste money as a real backpacker At least, Tobias as a car enthusiast is more than happy and Simone, well, she is fine with it.
Driving through the United States you get a feeling for this huge country the first time. Hours and hours you are driving straight on the same road and you are passing different kinds of vegetation and all of a sudden you know why the Americans always think like “big, bigger, biggest”.
There is nothing like having NOT enough space!
Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, we are suddenly in Butte (which is in Montana and is pronounced “Biu” – why the hell? It doesn’t make sense to us). It is our first stop and except of this huuuuge breakfast we had the next morning there is nothing else to mention. I’m sure, if you would ask somebody from Biu he/she would see it differently. But back to the breakfast: we ate the hugest pancakes in our lives, served with a wheelbarrow full of maple syrup and a big cup of cream. The “fitness plate” Tobias ordered had like a kilo of potatoes, 10 pairs of sausages and a grid of eggs. This whole meal was probably intended for a small family and not a single person. Anyway, at least we don’t have to think about food this day!
Then, we finally made it: we are entering the Yellowstone Nationalpark. For 50$ per car we are allowed to stay seven days in Yellowstone as well as in Teton Nationalpark, which is next to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is again: huuuuge and without a car it would be impossible to see everything (like anywhere else in the U.S. – there doesn’t really exist a public train or bus system) – except of some hiking tours there is nothing in walking distance. The speed limit is 45mph, which seems super lame, BUT…
…the statistics say that every day a car hits an animal…
…and all of a sudden the speed limit makes sense. You really don’t want to hit a bison, elk, bear or something similar which rans out of the forest – no big jeep would ever resist such a bounce. So what are we doing? We just follow the rule of 45mph and be aware of everything we might see in the forest. Which we are anyway, because if Tobias doesn’t see a bear in Yellowstone he is probably freaking out!
In the year of 1872 the park became the first nationalpark in the world nominated from the U.S. congress and also a role model for many other parks in the world. With nearly 9.000 square metres (nearly as big as Korsika) Yellowstone is one of the biggest parks of the U.S. and is everywhere at least 2000m above sea level. Latest when it is getting dark you know that the park is situated in the Rocky Mountains – it’s getting freezing cold, even in summer. Although we had all our clothes on we could find in our backpacks, we still felt cold in our basic wooden cabin.
We come across the West Entrance and that’s where we start our tour. There are two big roads which are installed in circles and with some side roads every now and then. They connect all the important spots together. There is now way to miss anything. In the eastern part of the park you can most oft he stunning wildlife, in the western part there is more of the spectacular volcanic landscape. Nowhere else in the world there is such a big amount of active geysers.
You feel like back in the days when dinosaurs and Co. were living…
There is steam, smoke, bubbles and sometimes it’s getting really loud. Like cooking potatoes or something similar. But it’s just impossible to describe this scenery, you need to experience that yourself!
You also need to experience the legendary geyser Old Faithful. Every 40 to 90 minutes it is erupting and the water fountain gets 30 to 50 metres high. Just incredible!
On different websites we read that it’s better to spot a bear in the evening. So we are waiting till it’s getting dark and all the visitors are inside of their motorhomes and cabins. Finally the streets are empty, we grab some beers and go bear hunting. We look for a good spot and start waiting there in our fancy jeep. It’s just a matter of time, the bear will come, we are pretty sure.
2 hours later, many hours after the sunset (you don’t even see your hand in front of your eyes) we are getting really tired and stop our very unsuccessful bear hunting. Sure, we are disappointed, but still full of hope for the next day. When we are back at our cold cabin, Tobias has this great idea (again) of “forgetting” something to eat in front of our cabin. Maybe a little, cute and fluffy bear is smelling it? But the owner of the campground already warned us: “There are some rangers looking around if really no one ‘forgot’ something to eat outside. And I swear you: they ALWAYS find the one who ‘forgot’ something”. Okay, this sounds serious. Tobias accepts that after a short reminder.
The next day we are driving along the eastern side of the park (Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley etc.) and after a few miles we already can see them: our first bisons! They are all over the place. Huge herds of bisons which are sleeping and eating right next to the street. And when they feel like it, they are just crossing the street, no matter if there are cars or not. If the grass is greener, they go for it! It honestly feels like “Jurassic Park”. The bisons are big, when they are walking one meter beside your car window. Although they look like if they are not interested in anything at all, they still scare you because you easily can imagine how strong they can be. Now we know for sure, that the car upgrade was more than worth it. What would have happened, if we would sit in a Ford Fiesta like we had in Canada?
We could watch those majestic and powerful animals forever, we feel humble and we don’t know why, but it’s relaxing at the same time. But we are still on a mission, and we didn’t complete it so far. So where ist the bear, fu§$&/( hell? Tons of bisons, elks, pronghorns, pelicans, eagles and geysirs, but no bear. But then we see a big amount of people. Something is going on here.
We stop the car and ask the people why everyone is staring at an empty field. First we think it is another bison, but not this time…it is a…wait for it…a bear!!!!!! But not this tiny, little blackbear, no, it’s the king of the bears…a grizzly!!! The ranger who tries to handle the people (some people still think that taking a selfie with a wild animal is a good idea) explains that the grizzly was chased by wolfs. That’s why he ran out of the forest and on the big, empty field without a place to hide. Bad for him, but good for us! But where exactly is the grizzly? Okay, we admit that it was hard seeing him without a telescope, it was more a little brown point wandering left and right. But some of the visitors had a special-telescope and were friendly enough to offer it us. For example the very nice, face-lifted family from Los Angeles. With their telescope we even were able to see his hair and his eyes: what an incredible feeling to see a grizzly in nature! After an hour staring constantly at the bear we finally are satisfied and drive back to our camp.
This was like the peak of the trip. We saw everything we wanted to see and so we are leaving Yellowstone Nationalpark after three days. This great experience we can highly recommend and everyone should go there if it’s possible.
And now we are heading back to the west coast. Next stop: San Francisco!!!