JUST THIS MORNING the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that our beloved Yellowstone National Park hosted some 675,000 visitors during the month of June – a 6% increase over the same month last year and just short of the all-time June record. One hundred and forty years after its designation as our country’s first National Park, the allure & luster of this all-American vacation hasn’t waned. In fact, now more than ever, Yellowstone provides the perfect opportunity to escape from the e-mails, step back in time and simply enjoy one’s breathtaking surroundings.
For example, last week I visited the park with three Wisconsin natives – my boyfriend Ethan and his mom and stepdad. All of them were simply amazed (and camera-happy) by our uniquely Western surroundings, even before we entered the official park entrance in West Yellowstone, Montana. Once in the park we saw the bubbling mud fountain pots of the lower geyser basin, followed by iconic “Old Faithful,” erupting a perfect 90 minutes after its last show of glory. We saw the snow-capped Absaroka mountains in the background and the stunning lupine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers in the foreground on the banks of Yellowstone Lake. We stood at Artist’s Point and captured truly art-worthy shots of the lower falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We saw elk, deer, bison and even a wolf. Yet perhaps the most amazing thing about our day in the park was that we didn’t get 3G, 4G or wireless coverage, and didn’t need it. We weren’t checking the latest news on Facebook or Twitter because indeed the best and most exciting news lay in the anticipation of our next roadside wildlife sighting. When we settled back in Big Sky that evening, with wireless again, we could share our photos on Facebook. But we could also reflect on the rare and old-fashioned quality time we had spent together. And providing just that may be Yellowstone’s greatest attraction of all.