I have taken my family camping all over the United States, from coast to coast, from the northern lakes to the gulf and from the Smokey Mountains to the Rockies. We started out with the tent , elevated to the pop-up camper and graduated to the pull trailer. Our budget wouldn’t allow us to the next level. But in all the places we’ve seemed to go there was always a place we always came back to, and that was Yellowstone National Park. It was like every other year we’d head back to see the wonders that the park had to offer.
Yellowstone National Park is set in the Northwest corner of Wyoming and bordered by Idaho and Montana. There are two entrances to the park from Wyoming; the east entrance which is about 50 miles from Cody and in the Wapiti valley area and our favorite place to camp before heading into the park. The south entrance is about 60 miles from Jackson and is in the Grand Teton National Park. The fee to the Grand Teton Park will get you into Yellowstone. There are three entrances from Montana; the west entrance is at West Yellowstone Village, a northern entrance near Gardner and a northeast entrance near Cook City.
Now there are 2.2 million acres of the park and a lot of places to see. Plan to spend at least two days there but three days would be the ticket. Even if you do not camp inside the park there are many places to stay outside and the fee will get you in over a period of time. If you have a large motor home the best place to camp inside the park is at Fishing Bridge RV Park. No matter how big or small your camping unit it is best to call ahead and get a reservation. You can find a camping spot if you are there early without a reservation but it can be touch and go. If you cannot find a camping spot in one campground they will call another campground and hold it for you.
One of our favorite places to camp is at Mammoth Hot Springs. There the campground is out of the way of the small community but close enough to restaurant, gift shop and the hot springs. The camping spots are not packed together and because of the bushes and trees they give you a feeling separation. One year we were sitting in front of our camper and a coyote came trotting by. A heard of elk are in the area and many times they will come right into the community and graze on the grassy area. One thing to remember is that these creatures are wild. I’ve seen people try to send their kids up close to these beautiful creatures so they could take pictures of them. Of course, this is a park ranger’s nightmare and they are Johnny on the spot when elk are in the town. It is quite a hike up the path of the hot springs but it is worth it. If you have someone with you that cannot make the hike you can always drive to the top of the hot springs.
Indian Creek Campground is another nice place to camp. It is a very quiet place to be with a stream nearby, trees to shade you and rolling prairies of native grass. You may even see a coyote wander by also. There are almost 500 grizzlies in the park and if you are on look out you are more than likely to see one even if it is over on the next hill. Pack your binoculars.
At one of the campgrounds one year, we were camped next to a fellow with a night camera which he set up because some kind of cat, a links, bobcat, or bigger, were seen earlier in this campground. Unfortunately, we had no visitors that night.
We have been back many times to see Old Faithful gushing out her hot water and steam from the earth below. We have walked the board walk through the hot, bubbling pools and watch the small geysers unexpectedly erupt from their pot holes. We would go inside the lodge and see how it was put together from the big timbers and I have never have seen a fireplace as big as the one there. We never miss the chance to go to the stores, buy souvenirs, and of course, buy a big helping of that delicious ice cream. Around the lodge area there is an educational center where a ranger will answer questions and there is always a chance for the kids to become a junior ranger.
The Lower Falls are as beautiful and majestic as ever. Pictures can still be taken near Painters Point and you may even see someone painting the falls from that point. At the falls overlook you can hear the pounding of the water over a hundred feet below but on the other side you can hike down to get another view and maybe even see some snow as late as August.
Don’t forget to stop by Fire Hole Canyon and be sure to have your swim suit along. The river is fed by the geysers and the water is comfortable. The river winds through boulders and when the boulders are very close together the river rushes you through them like you are on a water slide. The kids will love it.
There are so many things to do at the park; hike, backpack, fish and visit the museums and visitor centers. Be sure to watch the video of the park fire in 1988 and what effect it had on the wild life there. You will be surprised. If you are ready and able to go camping, by all means, do so, and if you looking for some camping gear, catch my website, www.gearupforcamping.com. I’d love to help you.
If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it fall, does it make a sound? Fortunately, in the Sequoia National Forest , on September 30, 2011, a German Tourist was there to capture on his cell phone two Giant Sequoias attached at the base fall with a crashing sound. The trees were estimated to be about 1500 years old, over a football field long, and they fell across a walking pass. Now, what to do with those trees? The National Parks asked the public for advice. Some said cut a walking path through it, other suggested to build a bridge over it, others, to build a tunnel under it, and some said just leave it alone. Did you know that these giant trees do not die from old age? They fall or die of disease.
My wife and I just got back from visiting Sequoia National Park and we were just awe struck as to the magnitude of these giants. We saw the General Sherman tree which measures a footprint of over 32 feet across. Thirty-two feet! That is larger than my two car garage. It is larger than the width of the end zone on a football field. The great giant is estimated to be over 2,200 years old. It was over a hundred years old when Jesus was walking the streets of Jerusalem.
Although the Red Woods in northwest California are taller the Sequoias are bigger. My wife and I visited both the Red Woods and the Sequoias in the middle of October when most of the museums and campgrounds and side roads were closed, but one of the things that impressed me was the fact that many people were out hiking and backpacking through these national parks. I stopped at one of the ranger stations to get some information and there were three groups of hikers or backpackers in front of me getting advice and directions.
There are a number of trails to hike and a number of campgrounds in the Sequoia National Forest and there are strict rules of fire and food containment. Due to black bears in the forest food must be kept in metal boxes, which are provided. Food or scented item should not be left in cars because bears will break into cars that have food in them. Even infant seats should be taken out of cars. The smells they absorb may attract bears. Backpackers should not hang food in these parks because it is not effective. Food must be stored in a portable canister which can be purchased or rented at the park visitor’s center.
If you encounter a black bear here are some rules. Do not let bears approach you or your food. Wave your arms, make loud noises, keep a safe distance but be persistent. Remember bears are wild.
Mountain lions roam through the parks though you may not see one. However, if you do, don’t run, for it may trigger a pursuit. Try to appear as large as possible. Hold your ground or back away slowly. Pick up small children. If the cat acts aggressively, wave your arms and shout and even through sticks or stones at it and if it attacks, fight back.
So, campers, hikers, backpackers, and even bicyclers, enjoy the beautiful Sequoias. And if you are in need of camping supplies or gear, look up our website, www.bwcampers.com. We’d love to help you out.