Two of my friends wanted to a National Parks trip out west and invited me; later, a third friend joined our party. We started in Illinois, went through the Badlands and Black Hills; stayed in Yellowstone; and visited Grand Teton National Park (GRTE). We ended up leaving a day early from GRTE and hit Zion; the temperature difference between the 40 degree nights of GRTE (30s in Yellowstone!) and the 90s of Zion was insane. Our bodies had just gotten used to frigid temperatures and were now subject to intense heat. Yuck.
In Yellowstone, we saw bison — lots and lots of bison. At one point, as we were driving toward Old Faithful in the morning two large herds were walking on the road. They were close enough to touch, but photographing them with big cameras (i.e. open windows and doors) may have been a bit menacing. Either way, I think the most interesting bison picture was one where a lone bison was munching on grass against the serene backdrop of Yellowstone Lake and the mountains behind it.
Yellowstone is known mostly for wildlife and its foul-smelling, hot-water spewing fountains (all sorts of them), but I found the colors and other life around its Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon of Yellowstone) most interesting. Not only was it isolated from the smell of sulfur, the way sunlight plays on the walls of the canyon and brings out colors is awesome to watch. We got one night where the canyon really came alive, but even without that sort of light, the power of the water to carve away at rock and leave such a deep valley is incredible. (Remember, everything else in Yellowstone is pretty much flat!)
We left Yellowstone for Grand Teton National Park. The first day we were there, we awoke at 4 AM to take sunrise pictures… I haven’t decided which one sunrise picture I like best, but this one comes close. The entire location (Schwabacher’s Landing) is just perfect for that type of photography, and I consider it to be the highlight of my trip.
It was a great trip — really enjoyed the two weeks away from life (even though Verizon gave me service just about everywhere except for in the deepest reaches of Yellowstone), and I’m glad I was able to take it all in. If only it didn’t take four weeks to process all the photos!