Thursday, May 30, 2024

Yellowstone, Grand Teton parks greet summer after holiday weekend

Grand Teton National Park, above, is in glorious color as the Memorial Day weekend arrives,
noting the unofficial beginning of summer in the country's national parks.




Above right, Bison sightings are a common
occurrence in Yellowstone. It's best to drive slowly and
not stop. Traffic jams are part of the park experience.
Above, well marked rest areas and viewing areas are
part of the learning at our national parks, with
plenty of information to be gleaned by stopping. 
THE SMELL of sulfur and wisps of steam signal that hot pots and geysers are near.  The odor assails the nostrils, all part of the Yellowstone experience. You'll encounter this "boiled egg" scent without leaving your car. Some find it obnoxious.  I find it comforting. It's part of my childhood.  And after all, Yellowstone's geysers formed after the last glaciers scoured the land surface at least 15,000 years ago. So we show proper respect!

We love our national parks and are fortunate to have two within a day's drive -- Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  It takes us a bit longer to reach Glacier National Park, from our base in south-central Montana.  But the drive north is also a delightful pilgrimage and we make as often as possible.

Bison and steaming geysers catch the eye in Yellowstone.
IN YELLOWSTONE, we always hike to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as viewed from the Lower Falls.  The craggy canyons, gushing waterfalls and towering mountains are a spectacle that never ceases to amaze.

The 3,500 square-mile wonder is mostly in Wyoming, but we Montanans claim Yellowstone, too, since three of the five entrances are in our state.
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
enjoy an early spring hike in the Tetons.
The park also spreads into Idaho, near West Yellowstone. "Our park" features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful. It's also home to hundreds of animal species, including the ones we saw last week.
We've found through the years that our autumn treks are perfectly timed. With thinning crowds and colorful foliage, fall is a spectacular time to visit Yellowstone.  Many of the park’s iconic animals are more visible in spring and autumn, when cooler temperatures prompt them to move about more. Summer's heat encourages staying put.
DAWN AND DUSK are the best times for spotting wildlife, and with spring days growing longer one can get up as early and stay out late to take
Bears are more elusive, but can be seen. This
grizzly bear was not far from the East Entrance.
advantage of prime viewing times. We witnessed several careless activities with wildlife: one family attempting to photograph a child in the same frame as a bison. Bad idea.
Rangers advise maintaining a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife. Remember, too, that they are on the move to lower elevations as winter draws nearer.
Fir trees welcome spring and flowers
 begin to bud, as runoff from winter
snow fills lakes and rivers.

IF YOU'RE looking for lodging, know that guest facilities and services gradually book months in advance and begin to close in the fall. Prices also drop a bit in autumn, and there are appealing fall lodging packages. Check the park’s website for the availability.  Check weather and road updates when you're in the park. 
Some services and activities in the parks require reservations.  Do some homework to save time and frustration while there.

MORE INFORMATION: (for camping, vehicle permits, cabins, rvs, passes and more specifics.)

Here, Ryan and Callie Regan of Chicago give Remly a cuddle as they
spend time with him on a recent crossing aboard Queen Mary 2.

Everyone knows the appeal cruising has to millions of people.  But did you know that dogs and cats can cross the ocean in style on the world's most famous ocean liner, Queen Mary 2? Pampered pooches and cats, too, travel regularly between New York and Southampton, England, lovingly cared for by a devoted kennel master.   More on how to book passage for your pup or cat, and what to expect to pay for the mobile pampering. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, family, performance and more:



  1. Beautiful photos and fun story.

  2. We love Yellowstone! Have made several trips and never seen it in the same light. Always changing. Wonderful place! Thanks for the memories.