When my parents announced that the next family trip was to Yellowstone National Park, I hopped on board immediately. Viewing wildlife and visiting natural wonders seemed like the perfect vacation to me, a sure sign that my transformation into a mature adult was complete.
The first time we sighted a bison, we screeched to a halt and hurried out of our cars to photograph the dark speck in the distance with wonderment. Little did we know that we would be encountering the massive animals in almost every corner of the park, with some even taking over the roads. One of the most “awwww” inducing moments was when we witnessed a bison family cross a river, with the mother bison encouragingly nudging along the skeptical baby bison into the water.
We also came across a fleet of photographers (at least 50), with their high-end photography equipment pointed at something in the woods. Further inquiry revealed that there was a pair of baby fox twins hiding in a tree. The protective mother fox (pictured below) purposefully hung out away from the tree and posed for photographers in the nearby field to deflect attention from her kits.
The only real disappointment of our time at Yellowstone was that we did not encounter a black bear. There were whispers of the regal creatures roaming about in certain areas (Lamar Valley is known for lots of wildlife), but our lucky stars did not align that day. One family reported that they had recently spotted a mother bear and her two cubs, which would have been such an amazing sight. Color me jealous.
In addition to its wildlife treasures, Yellowstone also has a diverse geography, including volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls and complex hydrothermal systems. They include landmarks with curious names such as sulphur cauldrons and mud pots. One of most beautiful ones is the sprawling Grand Prismatic Spring. This rainbow lake is the largest hot spring in the national park and boasts a prism of colors that results from pigmented bacteria in the spring.
And finally, no visit to Yellowstone is complete without witnessing the performance of Old Faithful. Every 91 minutes, the geyser spews boiling water over 140 feet in the air.
As the next scheduled eruption approached, the viewing area became more crowded and anticipation was abuzz in the air. When Old Faithful began smoking and sputtering, a tell-tale sign that the show was about to start, my family and I poised ourselves for the perfect photo. Once the geyser was at its peak height, which lasts less than 15 seconds, there was a chaotic scrambling for pictures with the natural wonder. This included my arthritic seventy-seven year old grandma shoving me out of the way for her picture op, leaving my arm bruised and hurting for several minutes, and myself shellshocked from her sudden display of superhuman strength.