A Trek to Yellowstone

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Cody, Wyoming is a welcome oasis for travelers making a trek to Yellowstone National Park. In a town relying heavily on tourism, the locals there are of the most friendly sort.

While in Yellowstone, we stayed at the KOA campground at 5561 Greybull Highway. This proved to be an excellent choice. The campground has a jacuzzi, swimming pools, playground and an indoor recreation room with pool tables, video games, big screen, etc. Be sure to rise early for the all you can eat pancake breakfast where for a little extra you can also get a buffalo sausage patty on the side.

Around dinner time we were standing outside near the office when in pulled a long vintage automobile with steer horns on the front. The driver was smiling, honking, waving and inviting everyone out down to the world famous Cody Night Rodeo. The campground offers a free shuttle to the event which is held nightly June through August.

The bucking horses we saw there gave their riders a mighty fine ride and left more than one cowboy limping out of the arena. Only to return again, I’m sure, as soon as possible.

We watched as one young lady roped a calf in what appeared to be record time. Later, there were the little ladies, one barrel racing on a young pony brought to her by none other than Santa Claus.

Cody is also home of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center which is a World Class facility housing five museums including the Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum and the Draper Museum of Natural History. The statues outside in the gardens honoring the American Indians are among the finest in art anywhere.

After arriving at Yellowstone and paying our $20 entrance fee, we stopped by the visitors center where we grabbed a sandwich, some ice cream and oh yeah… some souvenirs. We were greeted near the picnic tables by a rather chubby chipmunk whom our daughter delighted in sharing her Lay’s potato chips with.

A young cafeteria worker came happily out bringing two whole wheat crackers claiming that they were the chipmunks favorite. I told him, “This one is eating some potatato chips.” To which he jokingly replied, “He might get a heart attack.”

While visiting Yellowstone, we stayed at the Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone, Montana. The park is located at 210 S. Electric Street near the West Entrance of Yellowstone. Reservations for this park are highly recommended. We had never seen so many motor coaches in one area and found everything there to be first-rate.

Our very first day at Yellowstone, I decided that this was definitely it, the grand tour. Nowhere in all my life had I seen such beauty and splendor. While looking at the awesomeness of it all, one can most assuredly make the connection of being in a sacred land where the insignificance of man is easily recognized in the whole scheme of things.

The scenery of colors that we saw there were indescribably beautiful, ranging from the clearest blue to the fieriest red. It sort of gave a feeling akin to being on the moon or something with the earth, in places, bubbling and steaming all around us. It was a place where bald eagles, buffalo, elk, grizzly bears and nature were all together in harmony.

I never wanted to leave and wondered how and if another day could equal our first. It did, however, and every day at Yellowstone was an adventure filled with equally beautiful and amazing, although different, sights to behold. Even the locals were in obvious awe, some having visited the park for twenty years or more.

Almost as curious as the sights themselves, were the tourists who came from all over the world speaking different languages and making their pilgrimage to Yellowstone in a vast variety of tourist vehicles and attire. To watch them tromping through brush and lurking behind trees to photograph the wildlife, some hanging out car windows hollering “What did you see?” was really quite a sight.

We spent seven days at Yellowstone and recommend at least 3 or 4 with a trip to the Grand Tetons, if time permits. If traveling in a pickup, you may want to place picnic items in the cab when sightseeing as the crows seem to have a monopoly on the parking lots.

West Yellowstone has plenty of shops within walking distance of the Grizzly RV Park. For the best pizza in the West and possibly the world, you will want to visit Wild West Pizzeria at 14 Madison Avenue.

Before we left, I had tromped through brush, taken a photograph from our truck window of a grizzly bear less than 5 feet away and been ordered back to my vehicle by a park ranger with a bullhorn for getting too close to a mama black bear and her cub. My adrenaline had already warned me of that fact and the park ranger wasn’t in the waving mood after that. As for me… I was now ready for a safari hat and the Serengeti.

Karen Raine is a Texas based freelance writer whose interests include travel, art, antiques, collectibles and country music. Karen is also a songwriter and can be reached at [email protected]