A pair of moose were our official greeters to Yellowstone National Park upon our arrival.  I thought it fitting that they should be yours as well.

What followed though, seemed to be as far from this green and serene landscape as possible.

Our earth – this thing we call terra firma – is alive and not quite as solid beneath our feet as we assume it to be.

At least we received the warning.

Yellowstone National Park – the WORLD’S  first national park – was made official in 1872.  Another park by the name of Yosemite had made it possible though, when President Abraham Lincoln set aside the property for public protection in 1864.  It was the first park to have federal support for the preservation of a land mass, but was ceded to the control of California.  In 1890 it returned to the umbrella of Federal management.

Australia followed with the Royal National Park in 1879; Canada with the Rocky Mountain National Park in 1885; and New Zealand established Tongariro National Park in 1887.  Wow, we were really onto something here.

There are several things that spring to mind about Yellowstone and one of them is the nostril piercing scent of sulphur around the volcanic areas and the smoke rising from the ground and water sources.

If you look closely you can see the steam coming off of this flowing water.

Another thing about Yellowstone that seems a little odd, is that it predates the founding of the states that it resides in, since they were all part of ‘western territories’ when Yellowstone National Park was established.  Montana became a state in 1889, and Idaho and Wyoming were both given statehood in 1890.  That explains the importance of keeping it part of the ‘national’ umbrella as opposed to giving it to just one state.

Yellowstone covers more than 3400 square miles.  It has lakes, rivers, canyons, mountain ranges, forests, grasslands and geothermal features.  It also has a free ranging population of bison, elk, grissly bears, wolves, mule deer, pronghorns, moose, and a vast array of birds.

Sometimes the bison cause traffic backups because they will cross the road and just stand there – for hours!

But the most beautiful of all is The Grand Prismatic Spring.

Just take a few moments and admire this beauty.  There are boardwalks that lead above it and allow you to walk right around it, the steam giving you a nice facial as you manuever.

I have often wondered what the first humans who stumbled upon this place thought of it.  I assumed they feared they might have reached ‘hell’.  My research does point to these exact thoughts by a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  He had left it with some fur trappers and they split up to cover more area.  His name was John Colter and the year was 1806.  He suffered serious injury from the Crow and Blackfoot Tribes and as he recovered, he described a place of “fire and brimstone”.  They thought he was simply delirious and that the place existed only in his imagination.  They nicknamed it “Colter’s Hell”.  Of course, other reports supported Colter as descriptions of boiling and spouting water, steaming ground and mountains of glass and yellow rock made its way back to the population.

But evidence of inhabitants of the area go back more than 11,000 years.  A tribal people lived and thrived in this environment and left behind their tools and arrowheads scultped from the distinctive yellow rock.  It is from their naming of the ‘river with rock of yellow’ that gave the Yellowstone River its name, and hince the park itself.

Old Faithful, the geyser that erupts promptly every 91 minutes – give or take a few seconds – is part of this park.  I shared its pictured under the ‘s’ for steam post, so I won’t repost it here.  I’ll share a lesser known geyser named ‘White Dome’. If you have the opportunity to visit Yellowstone, you simply must take it.  Its beauty and oddity cannot be given proper description through words and pictures.  It needs to be experienced through all of the senses.  I guess you tell that I was impressed.