Yellowstone… Meh.

Day 15-18

I’ll be honest, I found Yellowstone to be over-rated.  If you know me well, you’re probably thinking that had to do with the cold. Highs in the 40’s make for one angry, achy, unhappy Evie, to be sure, but that’s only a small part of my assessment. Some things were awesome.

But a lot of the things were not so awesome, or were even downright unpleasant

  • IMG_2756Tons of dumb tourists. In spite of the signs in every building, on the back of every bathroom door, on notice boards, in paperwork, etc., tourists in Yellowstone stop in the middle of the road to take pictures and walk right up to wild animals, without thinking of the consequences. They bring into camp children who clearly don’t want to be camping. They ignore warnings and leave food and utensils out instead of secured in bear boxes. They park in “no parking” areas or drive far slower than the already-slow speed limit. In short, they’re rude.
  • The size of Yellowstone is actually inconvenient. It’s HUGE.  No matter what campground you start out from in the park, wherever you want to see is at least 30 miles away.  Combined with stupid tourists and 35mph speed limits, it takes at least an hour to get to anything.
  • Hiking trails are present, but not well mapped, and have limited places to park near them. This park is made for the traveler who wants to just drive around and walk on boardwalks, rather than hiking into real nature. It made me sad.
  • IMG_2731It’s Cold!!! At least in mid-June when we visited, there was snow in thick patches in every shaded area, including near our camp site. Snow blanketed the hillsides as we drove to our destinations. Each night we were there, shivering in our tent, the temperature dropped to the mid 30s. Gray clouds and drizzling rain plagued us as we tried to hike, and of the 4 days we were there, only one was truly sunny.
  • It feels touristy, not naturey. Every campground and interesting sight has a gift shop, lodge, gas station, and restaurant or two. It just feels very artificial and theme-parkish, especially given the crowds, which drastically reduced my enjoyment of the natural area.
  • Trees! Okay, this may be silly, as I generally love trees, but there’s only one tree in all of Yellowstone.  Tall, dark, skinny lodgepole pine.  Millions of them. Crowding the roadway, blocking pretty views, shading campsites. Monotonous and eventually claustrophobic.  If you have to drive 30 miles to every destination, and 20 of those miles are nothing but an unbroken forest of the same blasted tree, it feels like you’re not getting anywhere after a while.