Nature Gets A Stadium

Big Horn, Shoshone, Yellowstone, Madison, Gibbon, Firehole, Snake, Wind. This could be a tick list of must fish Western trout water or the index of a fly fishing guide book. Instead it’s a list of rivers I passed by this past weekend, without stringing up a rod. Yet I couldn’t be happier.

With a truck full of camping gear, a stocked cooler and plenty of optics, the kids and I made a pilgrimage to Yellowstone. We were excited to give mom a much deserved weekend alone and it was the first time the kids had been to the park. We embraced it whole hog. Visitors’ centers, bear jams, bison jams, ice cream, geysers, you name it we did it. It was awesome.

Bison Jam, Photos by Steven Brutger

Bison Jam, Photos by Steven Brutger

A smoke colored Grizzly ambled along a far hillside in the Hayden Valley, while a crowd of forty formed a line and politely asked, in a multitude of languages, to look through our spotting scope. We passed binos back and forth and enjoyed a uniquely National Park experience. Stopped in a bison jam for thirty minutes we watched  a heard stroll across the road. Tourists abandoned there cars to take pictures. Occasionally the crowd would dart as a bison spooked and the ten foot birth they were giving the huge ungulate suddenly seemed inadequate.

Eating mint chocolate chip ice cream we waited with thousands for Old Faithful to erupt. On cue she did. The seating surrounding the geyser was packed. A friend quipped that it’s pretty cool when nature gets a stadium, I agree. Millions visit every year for a reason. Our nation’s first national park is truly something to behold. You can beat the crowds by going in the shoulder season and winter or better yet be part of the small percentage of people who brave more than a quarter mile beyond a road. The backcountry of Yellowstone is astounding and rarely visited. On the other hand you can embrace the crowds for what they are and dive in. It can be equally fun.

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