If you've never visited Yellowstone National Park, prepare to be amazed and surprised. No matter how much you've heard about it, or read about it, or pictured it, the reality simply must be experienced first-hand.
What surprised me the most was the variety of the terrain. I expected plenty of mountains and trees and geysers, but was unprepared for the vast meadows, the giant lake in the very center of the park, and the beautiful broad rivers, especially the Yellowstone river. Its pristine waters are the lifeblood of the park, and take on many wonderful forms -- slow-flowing shallows, clear deep pools rich with trout, powerful white-capped rapids, thundering waterfalls. If I could take one thing home for my backyard, it would be a piece of this extraordinary river.
Another surprising thing about the park is its enormity. To see as much as possible, you need to do a lot of driving. We drove at least a hundred miles a day, and often twice that much, to reach areas distant from our camp.
The final surprise to me was a not-so-pleasant one -- the extensive damage remaining from the devastating 1988 fires. I can only dream what these forests must have been like before, and wish I had seen them.
Fishing Bridge RV Park, the only full-hookup camp inside Yellowstone, was cramped and a bit noisy. We watched in bemusement one evening at 9:30 p.m. as a 40-foot motor home attempted to cram itself into a 30-foot space, backing up right against the awning of the adjacent trailer. But by the time we reached the park, we were accustomed to tight quarters, and it was worth it to be deep inside the park. We did scope out some other campgrounds with fewer services but a bit more space. Next time we plan to have a generator to make us more self-sufficient.
While at Yellowstone, we also took a drive through the Grand Tetons and into the town of Jackson, famous for the Jackson Hole ski area. We chose not to stop long in the town, since it was comprised mainly of boutiques and restaurants and very little parking, but the views driving west over the pass were spectacular.