While Yellowstone National Park gets no points with me, I loved the area and the little town of West Yellowstone, MT where I spent most of my time.
I enjoyed doing nothing my first day at Hebgen Lake then headed out early for Yellowstone NP the next morning. Let me interject --- my 1st two nights in the tent, it was 34 degrees! and my camp site just had vault toilets & potable water. Back to nature, baby, after being spoiled just a bit these past few weeks.
While I saw some amazing sites (see photos!) in my 6 hours at Yellowstone NP, it was not an enjoyable park experience. I didn't see the Grand Prismatic Spring because I gave up after circling the parking lot 3 times looking for a spot. The mobs at the Visitor's Center near Old Faithful were painful, and I almost had to slap a surly ranger from Jersey. On my way out that first day, traffic was backed up for as far as I could see in both directions. Why? Because tourists didn't pull over; they simply stopped the car to take a photo from the window. This is the NP of yahoos!
I knew that I would only see a small speck of Yellowstone NP (it's 3500 sq miles) but I never imagined how poorly managed the park is or how out-of-control the tourist situation would be. There are no shuttles, no bike lanes, and limited hiking (many trails were closed). If you love driving hundreds of miles; sitting in traffic; circling for parking spaces; and interfacing with hordes of ornery tourists, you'll love this park! I did just read that visitation was up 24% this year.
I did see some geologic wonders and bison were everywhere but this was no outdoor experience after what I have enjoyed in the past month. I tried to go into the park 2 days later and after moving 1.2 miles in 35 minutes, I simply turned around (road work that day).
Ignoring the park scenario, I was easily entertained in West Yellowstone, MT which reminded me of small towns in Alaska. It's kept its charm and personality intact, and the people love to share conversation.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover