Part One of My Road Trip: Elko, NV and Yellowstone National Park
It has been a week since I last wrote and at the moment I am in Moab, UT, staying at the Lazy Lizard Hostel. My stomach is full of homemade potato salad, which was made by the nice gentlemen who cooks dinner and breakfast for the hostel. From where I am sitting, I can see the cliffs of Canyonlands National Park and the mountains are such a deep red. I’ve never experienced such a red landscape; the cliffs in Moab are nothing like the cliffs on the Oregon coast or even Mongolia’s rugged White Mountain. We – my brother and I – only arrived today and we plan on visiting Arches National Park tomorrow, to witness the famous Delicate Arch. We also hope to hike other trails found in the park, as well as look for some dinosaur tracks.
Well, that’s what is happening now, what about what happened this last week?
After a night of pulled pork tacos and wine; my brother, sister, and I woke up early the next morning to retrieve our rental car. (My first plan was to buy a junker, but my family and friends encouraged me otherwise). Our sister dropped us off, hugged us goodbye, and then Jamie and I were soon on our way north. We took I-80 through the flat California valley, which then turned into the breathtaking Sierra-Nevada mountain range. When we drove through Tahoe National Forest (my second time in the last month), my brother couldn’t keep his eyes away from the window.
We had planned to drive all the way to Idaho Falls, ID, which was 11 hours away by car. The reasoning behind that was because I wanted to get us as close to Yellowstone as realistically possible. I also had contacted someone via couchsurfing in Idaho Falls and they had invited us to stay with them. Well, in the end, we didn’t make it; mostly due to car troubles (nothing serious though). We were in the middle of nowhere Nevada, driving in the high desert with no idea where we were going to stay that evening. I saw a sign for Elko, NV and thought, “what the hell, let’s see if there’s a couchsurfer there.” There was and her name was Julia and I contacted her when we were over 200 miles away and it was when we were 15 miles away from Elko that I heard a response. She had accepted our request! Well, the rest is history: we chatted, she let us use her air mattress (I slept on the floor), and bless her heart, she gifted my brother handmade wool mittens the next morning. We said goodbye over coffee, insisted that we should meet again in our respective cities, and soon enough Jamie and I were on the road again, our hearts set on Yellowstone National Park!
After over 6 hours of driving, it felt so good to get past the Yellowstone gates and to finally see what people have been raving about for all these years. And they weren’t kidding. This place is absolutely beautiful. Yeah, sure, there are sometimes lines of cars wanting to get the perfect elk shot or maybe there is a standstill because a buffalo is in the middle of the road, but it’s all worth it in the end. The wildlife viewing is so phenomenal. Also, at least from the west entrance, the views from the road are stellar. There are drastic cliffs surrounding the whole park, all formed by the massive volcanic eruption that happened thousands of years ago, thus resulting in the enormous caldera we now call Yellowstone National Park.
There was a whole field of buffalo.
We veered left at the first major crossroads, and soon the landscape changed from ridgeline to meadow to prairie to then the beautiful Yellowstone Lake. We spent that evening at Bridge Bay campground. I was looking forward to sleeping in my hammock again, but I was disheartened when a ranger told us that someone had been killed by a grizzly bear only a couple weeks before, very near to the Bridge Bay area. We were double disheartened when the park ranger told us there had been a lot of bear activity in the last week, even mentioning that he had seen a bear wondering the edges of the campground the night before. Jamie and I didn’t have bear spray, so we were kinda freaking out. In the end, instead of using my hammock, I decided to share the tent with my bro.
We woke up early the next morning, ate some oatmeal, and packed up our gear. We only had one day in Yellowstone, so we decided to be hardcore tourists and to try and fit in the famous sites. We first took a moment to enjoy Yellowstone Lake and then we drove to West Thumb. We took the boardwalk all around the area, looking at all the steaming geysers and chromatic pools. We soon recognized a sign that we would see often throughout the park, which was a small boy stepping off the boardwalk and then falling/melting into the boiling, uneven earth below. I thought it was silly to have to tell visitors something so obvious not to do, but soon enough I saw people stepping off the boardwalk and taking selfies near the boiling hot pools.
At the Old Faithful area, we decided to take extra time to explore the area. We patiently waited for Old Faithful to erupt, and when she did, we got up and continued our way along the boardwalks. We walked beside even bigger geysers than Old Faithful, and we were even lucky enough to witness Grand Geyser erupt, which is one of the largest geysers in the park. Though geysers are cool, my main goal was to find Morning Glory Pool. I had seen images of it on the internet and thought that seeing it in real life would be really cool. It was on the complete opposite side of the Old Faithful area, but a two mile hike, to me, was well worth it to see Morning Glory Pool.
Morning Glory Pool and all of its glory
Well, after hiking a couple hours in the geyser area, Jamie and I hopped in our car and drove towards the south entrance, preparing for our swift departure out of Yellowstone. I know one day is not enough time to see all of Yellowstone. Someday in the future, I plan to return to witness the backcountry perspective of the park, as well as the other famous parts I missed this first time around. But, till then, Jamie and I must continue south to see what else the USA has to offer.
In my next post, I’ll share stories about Jackson, WY and Salt Lake City, UT.