I am one happy camper. In fact, Jennifer says the picture of me below is the happiest she has ever seen me. After most of five days in Yellowstone National Park in our Roadtrek, I am leaving with great reluctance.
I'm trying to think of a place that has so connected with me, so satisfied that yearning sense of adventure and pure joy of being in the wilderness. I can't. Same with Jennifer.
I've posted before about how big the place is. And how we used a commercial campground in the entry town of West Yellowstone as our base. After spending a night in the park, had I the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have stayed every night inside the park.
The park has 12 campgrounds and about 2,000 spaces. While tourist traffic is starting to slow, the best campgrounds still fill up most nights. When I go back, I will try to be here during the first or second week of September. Traffic noticeably thins by then. Speaking of which, most of the visitors we saw this past week were foreigners. Probably a third were Asians, a third European and the rest Americans.
Of the 12 campsites, you need to understand that the really good ones – the ones offering true wilderness experiences – are first come, first serve. There are some campgrounds in the park that do take reservations through an outside company, Xanterra Parks & Resorts which operates campgrounds at Bridge Bay, Canyon, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Grant Village, and Madison. Of those, Madison is the most wild. Fishing Bridge is the only campground offering water, sewer, and electrical hookups-50 amp service for Class A motorhomes and big fiffth wheels.
The others, Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Mammoth, Norris, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek and Tower Fall, have no hookups. Some allow limited generator use during daylight hours.
After visiting all but Slough Creek, which is 2 1/2 miles down a dirt road, we picked Indian Creek on the northwest side of the park. It has 71 sites and vault toilets. No generator use is allowed. They have a few RV sites but anything over 30 feet or so would be very challenged. Our Roadtrek tucked right in.
Okay, now for the pictures and some descriptions. Here's that Happy Camper Mike picture I told you about. When I die, this is the one to show one at my funeral. Meantime, it will be my screensaver.
Here's a shot of our spot at Indian Creek and the related signs and warnings.
Yes, bears are in the area. Each site has a bear-proof box for food storage. The National Park Service has found that the number of nuisance bears it has to destroy has greatly decreased by providing these boxes at each site.The sad thing is that once a bear associates food with a particular location, it will return. Two campers were killed in Yellowstone last year by grizzlies. Thus, every bear that raids a campsite is destroyed. So bear-proofing your food supply is very important.
The Indian Creek campground is along the creek that give it its name. You drive in and find a small office. Register, drive in and pick out your site, then come back and let them know. It's very casual. The campground is managed by workcamping RV volunteers. They work three days on, have four days off and get free space.
I got up early and walked the creek. This was my view. There was no sound but the creek and the wind in the lodge pole pines.
The trail system at Yellowstone is extensive. You can hike from a half mile to, well, days. All are well marked.
The overnight temperature dropped to 31 degrees. I awoke twice to the sound of coyotes. My neighbor, a guy named Kirk from Denver, told me two nights before he heard one of the several wolf packs that roam the park. “It was awesome but spooky, at the same time, you know?” he said.
You will see animals at Yellowstone. Wolves and grizzlies are a bit elusive, but bison and elk are very frequent sights. If you're driving, you'll know there's an animal ahead by what are called “animal jams.” Somebody spots a critter, stops to take photos, and, within five minutes, traffic has ground to stop.
Here's one caused by a bison.
At Mammoth Hot Springs, at the park's northern border, It's a resident elk herd. They live right on the grounds in front of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Park rangers provide protection, stopping traffic as the herd moves around.
But more often than not, it is the sheer beauty of the place that will stop you and drive you from your car to take a photo. These shots are from a great scenic ride along the Firehole River. The drive is too narrow for an A or C motorhome, but perfect for my Roadtrek.
We're about to head back home, by way of Indianapolis and next week's huge Family Motorcoach Association Reunion and Motorcoach Showcase there. We'll head out of the park and drive the width of Wyoming, hooking up with the I-80 Interstate and the old Oregon Trail, making our way to Nebraska, Iowa and then Indiana.
If you're headed to Indy, please look us up.
In no particular order, here are a few of the other Yellowstone images we'll take with us.